By Rav Aryeh Z. Ginzberg
Chofetz Chaim Torah Center
What a wonderful time of the year for Klal Yisrael, and what a wonderful time to be part of the truly special Five Towns Community.
As the sefarim teach us, it is only after the yom tov of Purim, when Klal Yisrael comes together as one—through the mitzvos of mishloach manos and matanos l’evyonim and through every household throwing its doors wide open to welcome every collector and every singing and dancing group of yeshiva boys collecting for a variety of causes and giving all of them tzedakah without a second thought to the amount and to the multiple times that they already gave that day. A day of “K’nos kol haYehudim,” when people may have been wearing different costumes, but were all one collective Yiddishe heart expressing to Hashem deep appreciation for saving us, then and now—ba’yamim ha’heim ba’zman ha’zeh—from our enemies out to destroy us.
Only after such a yom tov of achdus can we stand together at the yom tov of Geulah, leaning at the Seder table with family and friends, yearning and hoping for “L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim.”
These last few days in the Five Towns, the spirit of achdus, of “k’ish echad b’leiv echad,” has been felt throughout and has put us all in the perfect setting to be zocheh to a true and complete yom tov of Geulah.
Last week, many of us participated in the uplifting chanukas ha’bayis of the Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns, which after years of effort and struggle moved into its beautiful new building in Woodmere, where its wonderful contribution to the growth of Torah in the community will continue to become even stronger.
As I waited by the new building while the yeshiva’s talmidim and rebbeim were dancing with the sifrei Torah from the old storefront to the new building, I observed people from all segments of the community. As the music and dancing reached the steps of the new building, everyone was caught up in the dancing and joy of the moment. As we began to dance around the circle, I looked to the person on my right, whom I recognized as a young father of three little girls from Cedarhurst who, to the best of my knowledge, has no direct contact with the yeshiva, and to the person on my left, a man in his late seventies from Hewlett who has never been identified as part of the yeshiva community. Both were grabbing my hands and dancing enthusiastically at this wonderful community celebration. What a spirit of achdus!
The next day, we were called upon to vote on behalf of the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, which was looking for approval to purchase a long-vacant public school property to build a new campus for its growing yeshiva (the sale was approved). When I went to cast my vote, it was wonderful to see so many members of our community, especially those whose children or grandchildren do not go to HALB, all come out in a strong show of force on behalf of this special yeshiva. Rabbi Yaakov Bender, whose ahavas Yisrael is legendary, sent out a personalized e‑mail to his parent body to come out and vote for HALB. What a manifestation of ahavas Yisrael and achdus!
Several days ago, a group of three young dedicated askanim went into one of the popular supermarkets in the Five Towns and asked the manager to pick out ten of the largest open bills from families that have been going through financial hardships the past year and have been shopping mostly on credit over the last few months. They then paid the bills in full. There were only two conditions to their offer: that they not know the names of the ten families, and that these families don’t ever hear any of their names. Where can you find such wonderful Yidden doing for others, even perfect strangers? Only in communities like ours. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised and distributed throughout the community in the numerous maos chittin campaigns.
In the tefillah repeated every yom tov many times, we say the words “V’romamtanu mi’kol ha’leshonos” (“You raised us above all languages”). How is this tefillah to be understood?
I once heard an explanation in the name of Rav Shlomo Heiman, zt’l, the late rosh yeshiva of Vilna and then Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. If you went through every language and every word that is being used in the world, you still would not be able to find the proper words to describe Klal Yisrael. “Romamtanu,” Hashem has raised above all languages.
When one thinks of the very many dedicated Yidden in Hatzalah, Chaverim, Tomchei Shabbos, Bikur Cholim, Chevra Kadishah, etc. throughout our community, how insightful are the words of Rav Shlomo—they are indeed beyond description. The coming together of so many Yidden from the various parts of the community to support each other personally and communally is the perfect prelude to the chodesh of Geulah.
Many years ago, I read the memoirs of one of the survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto. He describes the last Pesach Seder he attended as the Nazi bombardment was destroying everything in its way. A group of struggling Jews gathered, all unified in that none thought they would survive the day, let alone the war. Mixed into this group were chassidim, misnagdim, yeshiva students, Zionists, Communists, and even some non-believers, all coming together for one last Seder. They had no matzah, no wine, and surely no food to use, but decided to proceed with the little that they had. They asked who was the youngest among them, and one yeshiva bachur stood up and recited by heart the Four Questions of the Mah Nishtanah. Following the long silence when he finished, one non-religious Yid stood up and cried out: “I have a fifth question—why do Jews know how to die in unity (b’achdus) but do not know how to live in unity?”
A very painful question then and a very painful question now as well. Hopefully, with the manifestations of achdus in our community that I wrote about above, that question is no longer relevant.
May we be zocheh to the final yom tov of Geulah. L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim. v