By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
For I Know that He Will Command His Offspring… to Keep the Way of Hashem
“… And may we and our offspring and our offspring’s offspring all know Your Name and study Your Torah for its sake. Blessed are You Hashem Who teaches the Torah to His People Israel.”
The Gemara states that the source of Exile laid with the fact that the People did not recite a blessing before the study of Torah. Many explanations have been given to this profound teaching, but we would like to present one explanation firmly grounded in the context this teaching is brought in the Gemara. This teaching is brought in both Nedarim (81a) and Baba Metzia (85b), and in both of these passages this teaching is brought in context of the continuity of Torah to the following generations. One of the early commentators called “Rashi on Tractate Nedarim” (although this is not really Rashi, but rather a collection of early commentaries) indeed explains this passage in context of not saying the part of the blessing upon Torah study (mentioned in our opening prayer) that asks Hashem that our offspring also study Torah. Other commentators explain that the flaw in not saying the blessing upon Torah study is the failure to see the Torah as a Divine gift for which one must bless Hashem. We may synthesize these two explanations by saying that the failure to see Torah as a Divine gift is ultimately linked to the failure to pray for or make effort to instill Torah through the coming generations. When one internalizes that Torah is a gift of Divine origin “handed-over” to man “to continue on” through one’s study, then one deeply understands the need to “continue on” this Divine teaching onto the following generations, which enables this continuity to exist through prayer and human effort. However, when this continuity is severed, God forbid, the result is “the desolation of the Land” (as mentioned in the verse brought by the Gemara), i.e spiritual desolation due to the lack of Jewish continuity, which leads to physical desolation of the Land, i.e Exile.
In stark contrast to the lack of continuity and the spiritual and physical desolation described here, stands Hebron, City of the Patriarchs and Beacon of the Holy Land. The Three Patriarchs inspire us with the promise of continuity, as our Sages teach us (B”M 85a) that one whose children and grandchildren are Torah scholars there is a promise of the Torah’s continuity onto his offspring ad infinitum. It is also this promise of continuity which is the promise of Jewish Presence in the Holy Land, redeeming our People from Exile and bonding us to our Holy Land through the Light of Hebron, the City that Unites (‘lehaber’=Hebron) Us with our Holy Land.
Rabbi Yehuda Castille was born in Hebron in 5631 (1871), and even in his youth he was loved by the entire Jewish Community of Hebron through his beautiful voice and good sense of humor. Rabbi Castille dedicated his entire life to education. He innately understood the inner-being of his students, loving them as a father, and he also knew how to direct them. He was one of the first teachers (in modern era) to teach in Hebrew. Rabbi Castille was a Torah scholar, well-versed in Talmud, Tanach, Mishna, and also in Hebrew grammar. In addition, he was talented in music and composition, artwork and Jewish calligraphy (“stam”). He was humble-spirited, happy with his lot, and well humored. He passed away at the age of 66.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #286
“One day, I heard a story of one boy who was expelled from the yeshiva he learned in, but was later returned at the request of R. Elyashiv, who asked the Rosh Yeshiva to return him one last time. This boy later became one of the great Roshei Yeshiva of our generation. After hearing the story, I realized that I must not have heard the story at that time for no reason. Sure enough, just a few minutes later a boy knocked on my door, telling me that just an hour ago he was expelled from his yeshiva. I told his Rebbe the story I had just heard, and he agreed to give this boy another chance…” R.G
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