On Sunday evening, March 6, Chazaq hosted a virtual emergency chizuk and T’hilim event for the situation in Ukraine. Robbie Aboff, Events Coordinator of Chazaq, greeted everyone and introduced the speakers.
Rabbi Eytan Feiner, rav of The White Shul in Far Rockaway, shared a stirring shiur. He noted that the last pasuk in Parshas P’kudei closes with the miraculous cloud that followed the Jewish people in the desert during the daytime, and the miraculous flame that followed them at night. This is how we close the sefer of G’ulah [Sefer Sh’mos]. So, what is the lesson here?
Rabbi Feiner shared a teaching from a great rav that everything in the Mishkan is a lesson for us. Rav Chaim Volozhin taught that man looks to model what the Temple represented. The Sh’chinah was inside the Temple. We have to bring the Sh’chinah inside of us. A cloud is concealed fluff, yet it contains powerful rains. There are 16 million raindrops falling on the world every second. We possess the might of rains. “The cloud represents tz’nius. The raging flame, on the other hand, represents the bren of Yiddishkeit. It’s never being idle, always moving up, always growing.” He stressed, “Sometimes we have to stand up for the kavod of Yiddishkeit. We have to step up to the plate. We have to be on fire and stand up for what is right. You have to be on fire.” In the good times, represented by daytime, we can be hidden; but in the darkness, which nighttime represents, like galus and difficult times, we have to take a stand.
Tzadikim and leaders of klal Yisrael need to know when to take a stand. They need to know when to become the cloud and when to become the fire. During the Akeidah, Hashem reveals Himself to Avraham in a cloud above Har HaMoriyah. When Yitzchak brings Rivkah into the tent, Yaakov saw a cloud over the tent. In Sh’mos, Hashem reveals Himself to Moshe in a burning bush. Avraham was HaIvri. The whole world was on one side, and he was alone on the other side. He was all about fire. Yaakov challenges Eisav and that was fire. Moshe was humble and said: Please pick someone else. Here, Hashem revealed Himself as fire. You have to be both cloud and fire. Eliyahu HaNavi was all about fire. He brings fire from the Heavens, and he goes up in a chariot of fire. Choni HaM’ageil is the cloud. He controls the rain. We need to have a cloud and fire. “Every member of klal Yisrael has to be this cloud and fire.”
The Vilna Gaon taught that it’s not enough for just the tzadikim and the leaders to be a cloud and fire. It’s applicable to every Jew. In the end of Sefer Sh’mos, every Jew saw cloud and fire. “Wherever you journey in life, you have to be cloud and fire.” There are times you need to be quiet and practice tz’nius, and sometimes you need to be a fire and stand up to the plate. Sometimes you have to take action.
David and Shlomo wanted to be king so they could live for klal Yisrael 24/7. They were shepherds so they could feel the pain of klal Yisrael. They carried the burden of the people. We can’t just feel the pain of the Jews in Ukraine hiding in bomb shelters. We cry with them and we think of them every second of the day. We are thankful that we are not there. We can send money; we can cry for them. “We have to feel their pain. We have to do. We can’t be just the clouds. We have to step up to the plate. What can we do as a z’chus for acheinu in Ukraine? We need to be marbitz Torah and do good deeds. We have to find ways to get more merits from Hashem.”
Esther was a tz’nuah and Mordechai told her that someone had to step up. Hashem put you in this place for a reason, so you have to step up. She had to be a fire. Start initiatives as a z’chus for acheinu in Ukraine. Daven for them. Take on some new kabalos.
Next, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of Chazaq, shared: “The upheaval in Ukraine is a message from Hashem. He’s talking to us. He’s telling us to wake up. Hashem is sending us so many messages – COVID, Meron tragedy, Surfside. He is sending so many messages to wake us up.”
“It’s so hard to believe that this is happening in this day and age. It’s a very, very serious situation of pikuach nefesh. Please increase t’filos, limud Torah, and tz’dakah. Giving charity saves from death. I know people who are involved in rescuing families. We are all responsible for one another. If one is suffering, we are all suffering. We need to take on ourselves to do more mitzvos!” Rabbi Meirov led T’hilim at this point.
Both speakers blessed the audience that we should see Mashiach in our days. Thank you, Chazaq, for this important, meaningful event. Hashem should save the Jews in Ukraine and take away this terrible, evil destruction.
By Susie Garber