Different Lights to the Light
Our teacher, Moshe Rabbeinu spoke with God Himself.
There have been great people throughout the generations who clearly adhere to the ways of the Master of the Universe. Others of us have been privileged to sit at tables with these people and take in what they emulate.
What about those of us who have not had such a connection? Are we sorely lacking in something very important for our souls? What if we didn’t even know about such people until later? Does that mean that we should not strive to a level like that?
I sit glued as I listen to Rabbi Weinberg share amazing stories of those he has spoken with, of his experiences with Godolim (great rabbis), beginning with the greatness of his own father, Rabbi Yakov Weinberg zt’l and the brilliant guide that he was for him throughout his life.
I heard how as a child, Rabbi Weinberg walked between two greats, Reb Moshe Feinstein zt’l and his grandfather Rabbi Yaakov Ruderman zt’l. He said he listened to their words, perhaps not even realizing at the time how significant each sentence was. On another day, the great Reb Moshe was the one who taught Rabbi Weinberg how to ride a bike.
Rabbi Weinberg tells the story of when he had the privilege of giving Rav Yakov Kamintsky a ride. Even though they were running late, Rav Kamintsky insisted that he had to go back into his house. Rabbi Weinberg waited for him with some impatience but would not dare to express that to the great rabbi. Then, Rabbi Kamintsky explained that he had gone back into the house because he had forgotten to tell his wife how beautiful she was.
We heard about Rav Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav and some very touching stories of Rabbi Weinberg’s uncle, Rabbi Noach Weinberg zt’l. We heard that the words he said as he took his last breath were, “But I didn’t see Moshiach.” Wow!
These were the greatest of the generation. To be with them must have been nothing short of enlightening. I listen in awe of what I can only imagine that Rabbi Weinberg heard and how he was influenced by the greatness to which he had access as well as by his own greatness.
Then I look back at my own connections as I was growing up. I remember being very young and asking my mother if there were anyone in the family whom I could look up to. She told me that I had a cousin who was an assistant principle of a school. But she said that she could not think of anyone else. I saw the assistant principal at a family event. He was not what I was looking for. He did not look any different to me from everyone else there. Really there was no one for me to get influenced by, in the way that I wanted.
Such a contrast to Rabbi Weinberg’s life...
While I love listening to the stories and always wished with all my heart that I had had at least one person in my informative years, I am sure that my own journey was exactly what it was supposed to be.
Then, I wonder if I am even more fortunate than my rabbi was. You see, the lack of people to look up to forced me to look up, further than people. At a very young age, I had conversations with what I believed to be the Almighty.
It is true that many of my situations were very difficult and even painful. But countless times I would cry to my Creator and never have I not experienced a change in some way, never have I walked away from one of those conversations without some sort of answer or solution.
Some of those times, I cried to God and the connection made me feel understood. Sometimes, I would forget that I even had the conversation until I would see the changes. I would receive support from an unexpected place, or something else that would resolve what I had cried about. And then, I would remember how I had cried to God and I would realize that He heard me.
No, I didn’t know a Reb Moshe Feinstein or a Rav Soloveitchik, or a Rav Yaakov Weinberg. I didn’t meet the Brisker Rav.
I had never even met a rabbi until I was more than 40 years old.
But I was never without.
I wonder if all that darkness got me in touch with the greatest Light. I wonder if it got me to connect with the Almighty Himself.
I know it got me to know for sure that prayer is heard, that there is help and that there is a reason for what happens to me and to each of us.
No, I never connected in my youth with anyone who had that greatness. But that does not mean that I never connected with Greatness Itself.
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