Friday, March 1, 2013

Staying in the Tefilla Spot

I had the tremendous honor and pleasure to hear Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Yisrael Meir Lau speak a few weeks ago in my shul.  For those of you who who do not know Rav Lau's story, I strongly encourage you to read his auto-biography, Out of the Depths; it was the best book that I read last year and you will not regret it.

One point that sincerely struck me from his Dvar Torah, directed to the bar-mitzvah boy, his older brother's youngest grand-son, was as on the following pasuk (Tehilim 24):

 מִי-יַעֲלֶה בְהַר-יְהוָה; וּמִי-יָקוּם, בִּמְקוֹם קָדְשׁוֹ.
Who shall ascend into the mountain of the LORD? 
and who shall stand in His holy place?
The challenge for teaching a child is not just to push them into a spiritual lifestyle, to accept the mission of being Jewish - this is the emphasis of the question of "who will ascend the mountain if Gd?".  Rather it should be to teach children how to reside in a spiritual forum, to exist in a world of struggle for balance between the material and spiritual, the modern and the ancient, and the have the tradition and tools present to be an active agent for Hashem.

Some educators today, or more factualy educational institutions, are focused on the tactics to be religions, to be affiliated, to be passionate, or to be able to daven in the main minyan.  Rav Lau's message was to realize that we must have the greater goal ever present.

Reading the rest of the perek of tehillim only strengthens this point:

  נְקִי כַפַּיִם,    וּבַר-לֵבָב:  אֲשֶׁר לֹא-נָשָׂא לַשָּׁוְא נַפְשִׁי;    וְלֹא נִשְׁבַּע לְמִרְמָה.
  יִשָּׂא בְרָכָה, מֵאֵת יְהוָה;    וּצְדָקָה, מֵאֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעוֹ.
 זֶה, דּוֹר דֹּרְשָׁו;    מְבַקְשֵׁי פָנֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה.
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not taken My name in vain
and hath not sworn deceitfully
He shall receive a blessing from Hashem, and righteousness from the God of his salvation
Such is the generation of them that seek after Him, that seek Thy face, even Jacob. Selah
May we be worthy to raise such a generation. 

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