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The Crown of Halacha

Succot 5777 – Under the Authority of the Schach: For This, You Were Created (But Can That Be Changed?)

Under the Authority of the Schach

For This, You Were Created (But Can That Be Changed?)

Various stories are told about aspects of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s character. One of them begins by telling of a calf breaking free from being led to slaughter. According to the story, the calf tries to hide under Rabbi Yehuda’s robes, bellowing with terror, but he pushes the animal away, saying: “Go — for this purpose you were created.” For this, Heaven inflicted upon him kidney stones, painful flatulence, and other gastric problems, saying, “Since he showed no pity, let us bring suffering upon him.”

The story remarks that when Rabbi Yehuda prayed for relief, the prayers were ignored, just as he had ignored the pleas of the calf. Later he prevented his maid from hurting the offspring of a mongoose, on the basis that “It is written: ‘His Mercy is upon all his works.'” For this, Heaven removed his gastric issues, saying, “Since he has shown compassion, let us be compassionate with him.

What Caused the Angels to Close Heaven’s Doors?

Doesn’t this seem that the pain Rebbi suffered is an overly harsh punishment? After all, the calf was created for slaughter. And we can assume that R’ Yehuda pushed the calf out in a humane way, most likely with kind words and a gentle shove rather than a shout and a kick. What happened here that caused the heavens to close the doors to his prayers?

A Commanding Key for Changing a Harsh Decree

There is a well-known story that is said about the RibbnitzerRav which can give us some insight. Once a man was very sick, the doctors gave him no hope of recovery. His last hope was a bracha from a gadol. So he took his medical information to Rav Moshe Feinstien, z”l, in hope that the Rav of such a blessing. Rav Moshe carefully read through the diagnosis and studied the x-rays. “there’s nothing I can do,” He said. “Go ask the RibbitzerRebbi.”

The sick man was shaken. If Rav Moshe, the GadolHador, cannot offer help, what will the Ribbnitzer Rabb have to say?

The scene unfolded in front of the Ribbitzner in exactly the same was as it did in front of Rav Moshe. The RibbnitznerRebbi also could not find a bracha for the poor sick man. All he could do was give one piece of advice, “Go immediately to Yerushalaim.”

The man returned to Rav Moshe and was very shaken by this advice. “Why should I go to Yerushalim? Is it because I will be that much closer to my burial plot?” Rav Moshe answered, “According to the Halacha you are a treifa and should die very soon. However, there is one person who argues on the Halacha and says that such a state is not called a treifa. That person is the Bartanura. And in the shamayim, the Bartanura is the Chief Rabbi of Yerushalaim. Go immediately, leave everything behind and you will be protected as long as you are in his sovereignty.”


Protectionism is a Powerful Force – When Used Properly

When the calf ran under Reebi’s robe, Rebbi had a chance to change the decree on the calf since it was in his domain. Even though he escorted the calf out from under his robe in the kindest manner, it wasn’t enough. Rather, he should have heard the terror in the calf’s cry and should have shown mercy. He had a chance to change the decree and chose not to. For this, he was punished.

Sitting Under the Doman of the Shechina

After Yom Kippur, it is quite possible that some of us still have a bad decree hanging over our heads. For this reason, we immediately enter the Succah, which is Hashem’s domain. We have one more chance to ask Hashem to forgive us, to remove any harsh decree. “Hashem, you are King of the Universe! Please show mercy on me. See how I rejoice in your commandments!” And since we are now in Hashem’s domain, under the schach where the Shechina rests, is there any question whether or not He will show mercy?

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