Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
A Constant Awareness of Jewish Suffering
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 01:09:23 PM
Number of views: 3278

Hundreds of thousands of our fellow Jews are under attack by rockets and missles from Gaza. Some are wounded physically, but many more are traumatized emotionally and suffer from shock, including many children. What should be our reaction in the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv area who are so far not under attack? How do we show solidarity with our suffering bretheren?

The Torah tells us that Moshe Rabbenu grew up as a prince in Pharaoh’s royal palace. He enjoyed a life of wealth, luxury and privilege. When he grew up, the Torah tells us, “He went out to his brothers and observed their burdens.” Rashi explains that Moshe cared about his enslaved and oppressed brothers and sisters, but he knew that he could not share their experience while living in the lap of luxury. So, “He went out to his brothers,” to connect with them. Rashi comments, “He focused his eyes and his heart so that he could suffer with them.”

Sharing the burden of suffering Jews is called in the Talmud “nosei b’ol im chaveiro” which means “he bears the yoke with his friend”. The Talmud says that this is part of the Mitzvah of “V’halachta bidrachav” which means walking in the ways of G-d. However, how is identifying with Jewish suffering – “walking in the ways of G-d”?

At the Giving of the Torah, (Shemos 24:10) the Jewish People saw G-d sitting on the Throne of Glory and at His feet there were sapphires cut in the form of bricks. The question is why bricks? Rashi explains that while the Jewish People were enslaved in Egypt, G-d always kept these bricks at His feet to remind Him, so to speak, of the Jewish People’s pain and suffering.

What is the meaning of this? Why, of all the Divine Attributes, is this the one that the Jews saw displayed at G-d’s Throne of Glory? Also, does G-d need a brick as a prop to help Him remember the bondage and suffering of the Jewish People in Egypt?

Surely, G-d needs no reminder! However, the bricks that the Jews saw at G-d’s feet are a message for us, a lesson in what is most vital in being a loyal Jew. If you want to be a true Jew, you have to share the burdens and pain of other Jews. How do we share the burdens? We share them by keeping the needs and concerns of our fellow Jews foremost in our consciousness. It is not enough that we have knowledge of their suffering and anguish. It is not enough that we are concerned about their plight. We have to live with their concerns and anguish. They have to be front and center in our own lives. This is what we learn from the vision of the bricks at G-d’s feet.

We should organize rallies and public reading of Tehillim in all our schools and Yeshivos and demand that our government untie the hands of the IDF and let the IDF do what is necessary to defeat the modern day Amalek.

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