Thursday, July 28, 2011

When the city of Brisk was looking for a new rabbi, they sent a delegation to Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (author of the Beis HaLevi and former Rov of Slutsk) to offer him the position. When they met with him in his study, Rav Yisroel Meir HaKohen Kagan (author of the Chofetz Chaim, Mishna Berura, and numerous other works) was visiting as well. The Chofetz Chaim related how the delegation presented Rav Soloveitchik with a deed and promised him the world - which was why they were astounded when the Rav flat out refused their offer!

No matter what they said to try and convince him, Rav Soloveitchik maintained his position. "I had enough of the rabbinate when I was in Slutsk," he declared. "From now on, I want to sit and learn in peace."

The Chofetz Chaim watched the whole matter, waiting to see what would happen. Being the Rov of Brisk was a very prestigious position; aside from the size of the community itself, the citizens of Brisk were known to be very intelligent, learned people.

As the delegation was getting ready to leave, one of the members - who had as yet remained silent - stepped forward. "Rabbi - there are 25,000 people in Brisk waiting for you. We know that we need someone to guide us, and we know that it must be you."

When Rav Soloveitchik heard this, he started to shake. He called to his wife "Get me my hat and my cane - we're moving to Brisk!" He recognized that if there a that many Jews waiting for him to come, he was compelled to go.

The Chofetz Chaim used to relate this story to his students, concluding with the message that if this was how the Beis HaLevi reacted to the need of 25,000 Jews, how much more so would Moshiach react if he knew that we all need him!

The work, then, is reaching the point where it becomes clear to us that we need Moshiach. Then, we need to ask for it truthfully.

These three weeks are especially potent times for true accentuated prayer. We can still merit that this coming Ninth of Av should be turned into a real holiday...

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