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The Moment

Barbara Bensoussan

Try to think how many hours of his life have been invested in this trip you’re about to take and the year ahead of you

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

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Living Higher

Barbara Bensoussan

It was the typical pre-seminary flight scene at Newark Airport — tears, pictures, final instructions, and brachos as parents parted with daughters about to leave for a year of growth in Eretz Yisrael.

One of the parents noticed Rav Binyamin Eisenberger, rav of Heichal HaTefillah in Boro Park, who was in the airport at the time, and he asked the Rav to address the departing girls. The Rav delivered an impromptu drashah to young women just minutes before they were to leave.

Rather than a spirited schmooze about the holiness of the Land, Rav Eisenberger asked a question: How much do your fathers make an hour? The girls volunteered different answers about the estimated amount. “Let’s imagine he does nicely and makes 50 dollars an hour — or even if he makes more, try to think how many hours of his life have been invested in this trip you’re about to take and the year ahead of you. Now, why do you think he did it? What’s he investing in?”

The girls were silent as the Rav concluded: “Remember those hours, and use your time in Eretz Yisrael to make sure that all the effort and energy is justified!” 



Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin 

“Omnom, ha’im doresh Elul ani? Indeed, am I a seeker of Elul?”

—Rav Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan (1890-1924)

Sometimes, Elul seems to only exist in yeshivah. Maybe it’s a schmooze or the excitement of a new zeman — Elul memories are strong but they seem to disappear sometime in our late twenties. Afterwards, much of Elul, when we even do remember the month, is spent waxing nostalgic of more serious times in our lives. If you find yourself grasping for a fresh memory of Elul, maybe it’s worth learning someone else’s. 
Rav Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan was one of the foremost students of Slabodka, whose enduring legacy was likely obscured by his untimely passing at the age of 34. Still, he left behind a remarkable collection of letters and essays called B’Ikvos HaYireh. 
In a 1913 letter describing his experience of Elul in Slabodka, he reminds us that Elul doesn’t just appear. It needs to be sought.
(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 677)

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