Friday, March 30, 2012

Liska Rebbe on Shabbos Hagadol

Just a quick mai'sah in honor of shabbos hagadol. The Liska Rebbe, Reb Tzvi Hirsch Friedlander, talks of the minhag (custom) in those times, in which the Rav, in his grand shabbos hagadol drasha (sermon), would take two seemingly contradictory statements by the Rambam (Maimonidies), and over the course of his long drasha, try to resolve the apparent contradiction between the two statements. The Liska Rebbe explained that all of this is fine and well, but said that what other Rabbonim do b'machshavah (thought) in front of a packed shul, he does b'mai'sah (deed), in real life.

And the Rebbe explains: the Ramban states, as is stated in the Torah, "ba'erev tochlu matzos - in the evening you should eat matzos." The Rambam also codifies the mitzvah "lo signov - you shall not steal." The Rebbe says that while some Rabbonim might try to resolve the contradiction in their shabbos hagadol drasha, he resolves this contradiction in real life, b'mai'sah. But what is the connection between these two mitzvos? And, better yet, what is their contradiction? You should eat matzos on the first night of Pesach, and you should not steal. So the Rebbe explains that although Liska was well off in certain respects, the city still had its share of poor Jews. Some didn't know where their next meal would come from. But they want to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzos on Pesach like any other Jew. And the Rebbe explains that with all of his resources and with his last pennies, he would bake enough matzah for the ani'im (poor people) of the town, so that if anyone were to knock on his door, he would have three matzos to give out to each person. And this is how the Rebbe reconciles "you should eat matzos at night," and "you should not steal."

(It took me a few seconds to get it too. The Liska Rebbe recognizes the fact that when people are so poor, but want to fulfill a mitzvah so badly, in this case, eating matzah on Pesach, they may, unfortunately, resort to theft. Out of desperation they may steal a few dollars in order to buy matzah for Pesach. But the Rebbe provides for the poor so that they won't have to steal, and can fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah on Pesach by simply knocking on his door, upon which he will provide unconditionally. So the Rebbe doesn't stand before the mispalelim in shul, and impress the crowd by resolving a seemingly complex contradiction. He takes a real life scenario, and resolves two statements for the good of the people.)

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