The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Smicha in Thought

After a brief hiatus, I present you with the Smicha Ordination.
Click on the link below to see all the wonderful pictures taken by my mother (she took all of the photos besides the one above) and the speech delivered during the evening by . . .

Good Evening honored guests –Respected rabbis, friends, family, and colleagues.

I would like to share a story with you that I heard during my stay in Venice, Italy:

There once lived a very wealthy man in America. Like all respectable Jews, he dabbled in Philanthropy and would send an annual check of a considerable sum to the Israeli government. Every time the check would arrive, this rich man would be sent an invitation to visit Israel and all of the wonderful programs his generous contribution went to. The man, however, would time and again decline saying that he was “Happy here in America.”
One day, out of the blue, the Israeli government gets a call from the man,
“I want to fly to Israel . . .”
“Great! They tell him, we’ll fly you out first class on El-Al . . .:
“I have one condition though,” he says. “I want to bring my dog.”
“Fine.” They tell him, let the crazy American bring his dog for all they care.

They fly him out, and upon arriving in Ben Gurion airport, he is taken on a tour of Tel Aviv while his bags are unpacked in his posh hotel suite.

The bell-boy in charge of unpacking discovers, much to his horror, that the dog is dead. Here the man said he was coming on the one condition that he could bring the dog, and now it’s dead. . . .
They call in the Mosad, the Shin Bet . . . everyone begins the search for an identical dog before the rich man returns to his hotel room. Finally they find a dog that looks exactly the same. Whisking it to the hotel, they leave this new dog inside the room as if nothing has happened.

Meanwhile the rich man has finished his day abroad, and returns with his entourage to the hotel. Upon opening the door, however, he almost faints in shock.
Those with him run to his side and ask him what happened.

He looks at them in utter disbelief and says,
“I came to Israel to bury my dog . . . and here you give it to me alive!”

Who would have thought? Who in his wildest dreams could have fathomed such a thing? So too, today upon this momentous occasion of the ordination of the future rabbis of the Jewish world, we must ask ourselves,
“Who foresaw even a few short years ago, that a group of boys –involved in their own childish ways and the challenges of adolescence, would grow to be who they have become today?”

At times I am asked if it is my desire to truly be a rabbi, a man of the cloth, a member of the clergy. After all what kind of job is that for a nice Jewish boy? While I respond that indeed, my aspirations truly are to take the pulpit, the truth of the matter is that learning for smicha is not merely an exercise in the learning of the minutiae of Jewish Law, but rather it is a comprehensive lesson on how to live a Jewish life –no matter what field we choose to pursue. To the future Shliach or entrepreneur, artist or artisan, doctor or mohel alike smicha is a necessary prerequisite for one’s future life; it is knowledge and experience in the way to live . . . The very Hebrew word for Jewish Law, Halacha, itself gives testimony to this fact –for Halacha means ‘the way’ -the chosen path towards a spiritually enriching life.

By learning Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish Law, one guaranties that the home he endeavors to build is a veritable Bayas Nema’an B’Yisroel –a faithful house of Israel that will be illuminated with the light and warmth of Torah and Chassidus- and that come what may –the vicissitudes of the world, the tumultuous ‘Mayim Rabim’ that seek to wash us away- we will be able to stay connected above and fulfill our mission of making a dirah b’tachtonim – fulfilling the primordial desire of making a dwelling place for the infinite essence for the Al-mighty G-d in every facet of the physicality and corporeality of this mundane world

In the Reshimos, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s personal journal, one of the many laws of Yoreh Deah is dissected and explained in a manner making it applicable to one’s daily service of G-d. If a berya –a non-kosher creature- becomes mixed into a dish one wishes to eat, even if it is found in a ratio of 1 in 1000 parts, it will never become nullified and will render the food non-kosher for consumption.
What are the conditions for a creature to be considered a berya?
It must be a living organism, in an unaltered state from the beginning of its existence, and whole in its entirety.
On spiritual level, when a soul wishes to go out into the world, to refine its portion, these three conditions must be present in order to prevent it from becoming lost and nullified to the world at large. By merit of their presence, however, no matter how small a percentage he is, the Jew is not only unaffected, but is also able to refine the world around him.

  • It must be alive: By virtue of the living soul inside of us, a veritable part of the Al-mighty Creator above, we do not become lost during our sojourn in this world.
  • Everyday the soul is returned to the body anew; allowing us to rise refreshed . . . this is the second condition, from the very beginning of our day we are connected to our G-dly soul. From the moment we rise to when we close our eyes, the soul is revealed in its full force.
  • The Mitzvos are compared to limbs, each commandment fortifying the physical limbs of the body by connecting with their spiritual source above. If this organism of which we speak is missing a limb, it is possible to become nullified to the other, far more numerous ingredients. So too when we wish to go out in the world we must be complete in our service of G-d, and thus never become lost.
Why does the eternal Jew not cease to be, to become forever lost amongst the sands of time? Because he is a living entity -connected to the living G-d, continually replenished from his source, and complete in his divine service. Come what may, he stands his ground, uplifting the world at large.

My friends it is the learning of smicha that gives us the status of a Berya, of a living organism, that lets us tap into our inner soul, reveal it inside of us and actualize it in the physical world, ultimately bringing the world to the epitome of its existence when ‘the whole world will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem like water covers the face of the sea.’ –the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days!

I would like to conclude with a few brief words of thanks to those who helped me reach this day.
Above all to the Al-mighty G-d, who created me and saw it in his wisdom to lead me down this path, to my family, my beloved parents and grandparents who are here with me today, to Rabbi Schmukler, the head of this program and Harav Dovid Schochet, who came to test us.
To the Rebbe, whose path and deeds we strive to emulate and who continues to guide our way, and to the many Shluchim, teachers, friends and well-wishers – both those physically here today and those here in spirit- who are each of equal importance to me, but due to their great number I am unable to thank them all in the time allotted to me.

Thank you and G-d bless you all.

Good Night.

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mk said...

Wow! What a speech, Rabbi!
by the way, did you ever speak ANYWHERE without saying the story of the dog? ;)

zei gezunt.

Mottel said...

In a word: No.
I say that joke everywhere . . . though the Warsaw Chevra want me to retire it.