On Tuesday evening, August 15, Chazaq hosted Rabbi Fischel Schachter, world-renowned maggid and author, who gave a shiur at Ohel Simcha. The shiur was in memory of Netaniel ben Istam. Rabbi Schachter shared many inspiring stories. He told a story about a maggid shiur who planned to give a shiur one night and, even though there was a stifling heat wave, he trudged to shul. There was no one there to listen, but he began giving his shiur anyway. A boy was passing by outside. This boy was out precisely because no one else was out, because he planned to steal. He heard the rav speaking and he came closer and thought maybe the rav was crazy, as he was speaking to the walls and chairs. He stood outside, listening, unbeknownst to the rav. The main lesson of the rav’s shiur was to never give up. Some time later, a bachur met the rav. It turned out that the bachur was that boy who overheard the shiur that day. The bachur told him that because of that shiur, he became shomer Shabbos. What impacted him was the rav’s courage.

The idea, Rabbi Schachter explained, is that “it isn’t about me.” I do what I do. We don’t always see success, but we have to do our part. If we refrain from lashon ha’ra, in Shamayim this counts as 84 fasts.

He taught that the day before an anticipated problem is always worse than the problem. Anticipation and fear are worse. He said that the lesson we need to remember is don’t give up. “Our job is to do, and whatever happens, happens.”

Rabbi Schachter shared a story about a rav in Squarer who lived in Germany when the Nazis lined everyone up in front of a pit. They said mockingly that the rabbi should give a last sermon and they wouldn’t begin shooting until he was done. The rabbi spoke for seven hours about Pirkei Avos and T’hilim. He kept on speaking, knowing that they wouldn’t shoot as long as he kept speaking. After seven hours, he noticed the German uniforms lying discarded on the ground. The Americans were coming, and, out of fear, the Germans abandoned their uniforms and guns and disappeared into the forest. This rabbi didn’t know the Americans were coming. This rabbi said his job was to try; and when you try, Hashem helps you the rest of the way.

There was another story that illustrated the same lesson, about the Brisker Rav. He was told that a Jewish soldier was caught and needed his “last rites.” The Brisker Rav said that he wouldn’t go, because if he didn’t go to give the last rites, then they wouldn’t shoot the soldier.

They threatened to kill the whole community if he didn’t go. At the last minute, someone came and saved them,

Rabbi Schachter shared that, “If you live in yesterday and worry about tomorrow, then you have no today. Yesterday is yesterday. It already happened and Hashem will take care of tomorrow, so we need to live in today.

He then shared a story that Rabbi Wallerstein zt”l used to tell. There was a king who said that whoever scales the mountain in a specified amount of time will gain the princess’ hand in marriage. Many men tried but gave up, as it was impossible to scale it in the amount of time allotted. One man kept going despite the impossible odds, and suddenly an elevator opened up and zipped him to the top. “We do what we can do and leave the rest to Hashem.”

Rabbi Schachter taught a teaching that we bow at Modim, and this is a way of saying, “Hashem, my life is in Your hands. I don’t give up.” When we bow at Modim, we use all 248 limbs – the essence of our body.

He shared that there are people in the service industry who want to help; and then there are people who want money, so they serve you. Netaniel was the type of person who used all his limbs to serve Hashem. We should be inspired by his life.

By Susie Garber