The joy in knowing we are Hashem’s firstborn | Harav Y R Rubin
The joy in knowing we are Hashem’s firstborn
By Harav Yitzchak Reuven Rubin
I have the honour of giving a shiur several times a week in our shtiebl. In truth it isn’t as such a lecture with the olam sitting quietly with glazed eyes. Rather, it is a free running session where there is much interaction between me and the participants. The discussions are always lively, and I believe we all gain in this way, sharing insights that one would have never expected arising at the start. I am sure this sort of exchange is happening in thousands of shuls wherever Yidden live, bringing spiritual growth to all involved.
At a time where superficiality reigns, and everything is spoon-fed to the masses in sound bites, it is amazing that despite all the chaos, Yidden sit and learn deep concepts of spiritual content. In secular society it is celebrities with little or no education, armed only with a gift of making a spectacle of themselves, that create the agenda for the unwary masses. This is the sad direction that the western world is going, uninformed and blithely led by brassy show-offs who amass wealth by preying on the gullible public.
“I well remember those special she’eris hapletah Yidden dancing on a Friday night after their Rebbe’s tish”
Yet in small corners throughout the Golus we find the illuminating words of Torah bringing hope and light to those who seek its warmth. I am often amazed when leaving a shiur at the calibre of discussion which we’ve had. The participants coming from all walks of life are singularly devoted to learning what the Torah offers them. In this dark world which is teetering on the brink, we find Yidden learning, discussing, even arguing, fine points, all with the goal to enlighten themselves and connect with higher ideals.
Where does this come from? What can we do to strengthen ourselves even more? Hashem proclaimed to Pharaoh that Bnei Yisroel is “My firstborn child” which is an expression of Hashem’s intense love and caring towards Klal Yisroel. Rashi explains that we have a status of “greatness” in Hashem’s eyes. The Nesivos Sholom points out that Hashem declares this while Bnei Yisroel has sunk to the lowest level of spiritual depravity. We were enslaved in the darkness of Mitzrayim, a land of immorality and idol worship. As their slaves we had no ability to even hope for a future, yet, into this morass Hashem announces His love for us as His first born. This knowledge has lifted us above the fray of history. No matter what others have thrown at us- torture, hate, anti-Semitic attacks, even the hell of the Churban-nothing has stopped us from gathering and learning. Knowing you are loved brings with it a sense of self-esteem. Knowing you are loved by the Creator of the world can strengthen one’s resolve. This special gift must be given over to our young; they must know who they are. Sadly we see some enticed by the shiny baubles of media flashiness, taking direction from the lunatics who are running the asylum. This tragic state often occurs because youngsters have no understanding of how much Hashem cherishes them, nor of the nature of the royalty of Torah adherence. The knowledge that one is loved is empowering, and it is this awareness that has stood by us throughout history. Parents must teach this fundamental understanding of who we are. They must act as agents of Hashem and shower their young with warmth and a sense of security.
Youngsters who understand who they are won’t be misled by the trinkets of a world devoid of depth. Instead they will relish their place in the chain of continuity.
There are many who seek our harm. Anti-Semitism is on the rise and what were once considered safe havens are quickly becoming uncomfortable. It is a struggle for our young to stand fast given all the winds of change that buffet them. There is one thing we can and must do: tell them who they are. Tell them of a love Hashem has bestowed on us as a nation, and how our role as Hashem’s “firstborn” comes with joy and light. The Torah and its laws are there to sensitize us for this role, not to chas vesholom hinder us.
I well remember those special she’eris hapletah Yidden dancing on a Friday night after their Rebbe’s tish. They danced with eyes closed, singing of their joy of being chosen as Hashem’s children. They danced with tears of strength and hope for the future. We are their children and our children deserve their birthright.