Living Al Kiddush Hashem by Rabbi Yosef Adler

(2004/5764) The Haftorah of the second day of Rosh Hashanah
makes reference to the famous words of Yirmiyahu as he
describes Rachel petitioning Hashem to enable Am Yisrael to
return from the Babylonian exile. “Kol Biramah Nishmah Nehi
Bechi Tamurim Rachel Mivakah Al Baneha…Vishavu Banim
Ligevulam.” Many have raised the question as to why only
Rachel is crying and not any of the other Avot or Imahot.
The Midrash on Megillat Eicha describes an unusual
scene. As the Beit Hamikdash was burning, Hashem was
crying and screaming, “where are my children, my prophets,
my Kohanim? I feel like someone whose only son died
suddenly at his Chupah.” Hashem instructs Yirmiyahu to
summon all the Avot and Imahot and make them petition to
Him on behalf of Am Yisrael. Avraham is the first to speak.
He rips his hair, tears his garments, and places ashes on his
forehead and laments: “Ribono Shel Olam, you granted me a
child at age 100 and yet when you asked me to sacrifice him
on the altar I did so without hesitation.” However, Hashem
was unimpressed. Yaakov appears before Hashem and
says, “I worked for Lavan for 21 hard years. Upon leaving I
was confronted by Esav who wanted to kill me and my
children and I stood before them and was prepared to die to
protect them.” Nevertheless, Hashem was unimpressed.
Moshe appears before Hashem and says, “I spoke on behalf
of your people for 40 years and yet I died before entering
Israel. Let my death substitute for them and enable them to
return to the Holy Land.”
Rachel finally gets her turn and says, “Yaakov had
initially worked for me for seven years. My father Lavan
cajoled me to allow Leah to trick Yaakov. I could not bear
witness to the shame that Leah would have experienced had
Yaakov deleted the trickery during the wedding night. Having
suspected that Lavan might pull a fast one, Yaakov gave me
certain Simanim to identify myself. I then willingly gave those
signs to my sister Leah to spare her from shame and
embarrassment. I stood outside the door and as Yaakov
spoke to Leah I instructed Leah to remain silent and I filled in
the answers.” Upon hearing this Hashem was overcome with
mercy and compassion and said, “my children will return.”
All the Imahot and Avot spoke on behalf of their
children. But they all focused on their willingness to die in
order to protect a loved one or to adhere to Hashem’s
commandments. Rachel advised Hashem that she was
willing to live Al Kiddush Hashem. This is our challenge as
well. We have high regard and enormous respect for every
member of Tzahal who is prepared to die Al Kiddush Hashem
if necessary. Since we, in America, are not faced with that
daunting challenge, the very least we can do is live our lives
Al Kiddush Hashem. May we fulfill the Pasuk “Vi Rau Kol
Amei Haaretz Ki Shem Hashem Nikrah Alecha” and thereby
merit “Vishavu Banim Ligvulam.”

Inspirational Keriat Hatorah by Jesse Dunietz

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