Shabbat Parashat Tzav| 5765
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Drasha for Shabbat Hagadol - 5711 - Part II - Based on Drashot Liy’mei Hapesach, pp. 52-54
[We saw last time that for us to merit redemption, Eliyahu will have to heal the rift between fathers and sons. One of the areas where this rift is felt is in the reaction to the experience of Pesach. The wicked son feels no interest in the “work” of the day, but his father’s apathy may actually be the root cause of the son’s feelings.]
The gemara (Chagiga 14a) tells us that while Yeshaya foretold of 18 curses, the final, most powerful one was, “the youth will domineer over the old and the lowly [from the root of “light”] over the respectable [root of “heavy”]” (3:5). This, it explains, refers to a generation that thinks that serious (heavy) matters are light that will dominate a generation that thinks that the light is serious.
Indeed, derech eretz (respect for others) is a basic requirement for Torah. Not only is it impossible to fulfill one’s obligations between man and man without derech eretz, but it is not even possible to do mitzvot between man and Hashem without it. The youth in Israel seems to have accepted an approach that in order to have a close, open relationship with someone, one has to ease up on such formalities as derech eretz. However, this is an anti-Torah concept. The Torah teaches extensively the proper manners toward all sorts of people close to a person, whether it is between spouses or friends and certainly by children towards parents. In fact, the basic building block of our relationship with Hashem is the gratefulness we owe Him.
With this foundation in hand, the Jewish people knew how to train a child from the youngest age that the Torah is the very essence of life. When the child actually got this feeling from all that surrounded him in the home, then he was willing to accept his father’s instructions to follow and cherish Torah and mitzvot. But if a child sees that his father doesn’t inquire about what he learns or, for that matter, doesn’t open a sefer, when he sees that for his father, the essence of life is anywhere but in the shul,and that his mind is everywhere but in his davening, then the child will try to rid himself of any responsibility to a Torah lifestyle that he was taught.
A child who hears that it is difficult to be a Jew, even in regard to those matters where it is actually easy and even enjoyable, will not be attracted to it. That is the meaning of the gemara about a generation for whom the light is like heavy. Even those mitzvot that are actually easy the father complains about as if they were heavy. In response, the child will rebel and treat the heavy [in gravity] matters as if they were of no import.
While this appraisal of the situation may sound depressing, it should also be encouraging, because it means that the matter is up to the parents to a great degree. [We saw last time that] the question of the son, “what is this work for you?” can be interpreted both as a sign of the Torah being forgotten and that we will have children. The forgotten Torah is not forgotten by the child but by the father, who will not remember how to properly appreciate it. But the good news that is learned from that pasuk is that there is still a child to engage in dialogue. The midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Tehillim 58) contrasts the disciples of Avraham and those of Bilam. Why not contrast the masters themselves? The answer is that often we can uncover the true nature of the teacher by observing the behavior of the student. So it is with parents and children as well.
So there is a challenge, but there is also hope. We need to learn to teach our children that, “for this, Hashem did for me.” If the father can internalize the message of Pesach and the Torah in general, then there is hope. Then one can unite the generations to welcome together Eliyahu’s return.
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