D'Var Torah - Lag B'Omer
By Rabbi Baruch
Two thousand years ago,
there was a great scholar named Rebbi Akiva. At the age of 40 he was
unlearned and set out on the ambitious task of catching up. He applied
himself with legendary diligence (and patience) and succeeded beyond
anyone's expectations. Through hard work and selfless dedication he
eventually became one of the generation's leading Torah scholars and
amassed 24,000 talmidim (students). These talmidim were devoted to their
exalted Rebbi. They represented the future, for they would carry on their
master's teachings and traditions.
Then tragedy struck. A
horrible plague wiped out his 24,000 talmidim. Only five
were left alive. The Talmud explains that they were punished because of a
defective character trait, namely they didn't show the proper honor to
each other (lo nahagu kavod zu lazu).
These 24,000 men had but
one thing in common - they were all students of the same teacher, Rebbi
Akiva. It stands to reason that this flaw existed in the Rebbi, for why
else would it be shared by these 24,000 in particular. This leads to one
question. If Rebbi Akiva had that same flaw, why were only his students
punished. How come he himself was not punished.
The answer is that he was
punished. In fact he received the harshest punishment of all. He had to
witness his beloved 24,000 talmidim die. He put all he had into
his talmidim and now they were gone. The Talmud states
"Talmidim harei heim k'bonim - Talmidim are like children." Given
the love that a Rebbi has for his talmidim, such a loss is almost
Rabbi Aryeh Rodin was once
accompanying the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Henoch Leibowitz shlit"a. The Rosh
Yeshiva is known world wide for his unrelenting dedication to Harbotzas
Torah (spreading Torah). Those of us privileged to learn in
his yeshiva saw another, perhaps even greater, dedication - the
intense dedication and love that he has to each and every one
of his talmidim.
The Rosh Yeshiva was going
for a haircut that day and Rabbi Rodin was assisting him. As Rabbi
Rodin was helping the Rosh Yeshiva take off his coat and hang it up, the
proprietor, asked him, "Is this your father?"
Rabbi Rodin replied, "No,
he is my teacher."
Upon hearing this, the
Rosh Yeshiva interjected, "I am not his father, but, he is my son."
This Dvar Torah is dedicated in
honor of the fifth wedding anniversary,
B'omer, of Cliff and Laurie