Picture of the author
Picture of the author

Two Large Tears

4,000 Years Ago a Lone Man Heard a Voice. Can It Still Speak to Us Today?

    Rabbi YY Jacobson

    2320 views
  • October 4, 2010
  • |
  • 26 Tishrei 5771

Painting by Marc Chagall

  • Comment

Class Summary:

Two Large Tears - 4,000 Years Ago a Lone Man Heard a Voice. Can It Still Speak to Us Today?

Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein- In the loving memory of Rabbi Gavriel Noach and Rivki Holtzberg and all of the Mumbai Kedoshim. And in loving memory of a young soul Alta Shula Swerdlov, daughter of Rabbi Yossi and Hindel Swerdlov

Selfish

A big, burly man visited the rabbi's home and asked to see the Rebbetzin, the rabbi's wife, a person well known for her numerous charitable deeds.

"Rebbetzin," he said in a broken voice, "I wish to draw your attention to the terrible plight of a poor family in this district. The father is dead, the mother is too ill to work, and the nine children are starving. They are about to be turned into the cold, empty streets unless someone pays their rent, which amounts to $6,000."

"How terrible!" exclaimed the Rabbi's wife. "May I ask who you are?"

The sympathetic visitor applied his handkerchief to his eyes. "I'm the landlord," he sobbed.

An Image

When I was a child, I once read a chapter of a diary and it moved me profoundly:

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe (1880-1950) describes in his diary how his father, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, the fifth Rebbe of Lubavitch (1870-1920) would review the Torah portion of “Lech Lecha” (the third portion of the book of Genesis) each year on Friday afternoon, prior to the Sabbath. (This is an ancient Jewish custom, to review the weekly Torah portion on Fridays).

The Rebbe related how when his father would recite the opening words of the portion, "Lech Lecha Maartzecha", “two gigantic tears rolled down from his saintly face."

"Lech Lecha Maartzecha" are the Hebrew words expressing G-d’s instruction to Abraham to “Go from your land, your birthplace and your father’s home, to the land that I will show you.” Each year, recalling these words, the Rebbe’s eyes swelled with tears.

But what did he see in this verse that melted his heart? What was it about this message that moved him so profoundly?

Capturing the Drama

This brief instruction to Abraham – the first communication of G-d to the father of Judaism -- captures the essence, mystery and destiny of 4,000 years of Jewish history, a history soaked in so much courage, blood, tears, and triumph. What is Jewishness? What is the ultimate meaning of Jewish existence? What is the calling of the Jew?

It is the response to a call: “Go from your land, your birthplace and your father’s home, to the land that I will show you.” Go away from yourself and become Mine. Judaism, in its truest meaning, is about creating a paradigm shift – from self-centeredness to G-d-centeredness; from my land to the land which I am shown.

3700 years ago, a lone human being, sophisticated and refined, heard a call. This was not merely an instruction about geography, a demand to relocate homes; it was an invitation to an existential shift. Leave yourself. Step away from your perspective, and begin to see things from My perspective. Stop living according to your habits and inclinations, and begin to live according to My will.

For one who never heard the call, this seems like lunacy. But Abraham and his descendants heard a call, and they could not remain indifferent. To betray it would be akin to a sensitive soul refusing to be moved by a heart-stirring poem or piece of music. When Abraham became aware of the living presence of G-d, there was no turning back. He could deny it all he wanted, but he knew that life without it would be that much more shallow and superficial. To reject the call might have spelled loyalty to the scientific demand for laboratory-type evidence, but would have come at the expense of betraying his deepest layer of self.

Close to 4000 years later, the call still summons us. “Go from your land, your birthplace and your father’s home, to the land that I will show you.” Step out of yourself and commit to that which G-d desires of you. Allow your life to be linked to rays of truths looming larger than your ego.

Can we hear the call? Do we know how to respond?

(Please make even a small and secure contribution to help us continue our work. Click here.)

Please leave your comment below!

  • KOS

    Kenneth olen Smith -6 years ago

    When you are given the call from the One G_d of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

    I believe that the Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber while reading the "Lech Lecha Maartzecha", event of Abraham he is witnessing a spiritual connection between Abraham and the One G-d of Jacob. I believe that the soul that we have can be in some people in a high spiritual plane and they have the ability to be part of an event emotionally, past or present or future. This may seem strange but in reality we are Divine creatures and have the a souls a part of the Creator the One G_d of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. I can read a story of a Jewish event and immediately tears will flow, i am a Noahide and not Jewish, yet i am a part of Israel.Imagine that the Creator of the universe spoke to you,it would in my mind be the most important event in your entire life, you would never forget the power of the words and the presence of the One G_d of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. The G_d of Jacob is out-side of all the laws that He created, He may instantly change the entire environment around you, changing your emotions, instantly mealting away all power that you have to stand are move. I am amazed when reading about Moshe the greatest prophet and other prophets following the will of the Creator they faced death and yet continued to follow the will of G_d.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • IB

    Isaac Balbin -6 years ago

    What about all the souls he and Sarah made

    I’m not sure how their seeming abandonment of Judaism fits into  presence he spread and spread.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    This is my story...

    This is a stirring story to be sure. It is also my story. I will share it today on my Linkedin page. Thank you for sharimg it with me!!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • KOS

    Kenneth olen Smith -6 years ago

    G_ds Presence.

    Shalom Dear Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson, in the mornings where I work for almost eight years the children in a community called little Dallas, mostly minorities would come into the store. They would ask me for flour so they would have breakfast before school , I would give them flour and have my boss take the money out of my pay, I made $4.00 an hour for almost eight years i had brain damage and physical challenges. When the children would leave the store i would cry and beg G_d to help the children, at night i would here my wife cry i could only work three days a week i was in a lot of pain that lasted for about ten years. The One G_d of Abraham Isaac and Jacob is love and kindness and mercy, and He heard my cries. From the prayers that i made for the children the L_rd our G_d touched the hearts of many people that agreed to help the children, in our little town. The President of Denison Industries alone made a pledge to me of a one million dollar's. What i did i went to many companies asking them to give 5% of their profit  for any work that i could get for them to help the children, we have about 500 families a year that come here that are homless.I had no office no business cards and no money and no business phone, but i knew i was not alone, many companies joined and i got contracts to help build the B2 Bomber, before i had a stroke i work about ten years for the United States Military. The work started i seen the L_rd deliver a blessing to our small town, we were getting work and doing fine, i still work at the store i was a clerk and work 11-7 nights the only job i could get i received no disability money.We were no incorporated and two men that i was working with stole the first $ 50,000 dollar check, and i shut down the program evl people can be anywhere. When the L-rd calls i think He will use people or children, and we have an opportunity to help someone in need so we must be careful when we see suffering and we must answer His Divine call.The L_rd in the middle of the day while i was singing gave me a vision and told me of His love of Israel His priest-hood and He wanted me to ask the nations to help Israel build the Eternal Third and final Temple in Jerusalem, my dear wife and I have been faithful these past twenty six years, and today i am asking our members in many lands and our friends to offer a daily prayer. To join Isrel requesting that the One G_d of Abraham Isaac and Jacob allow the vision of the Heavenly Temple to be seen on the Temple Mount in the city of David Jerusalem ,in our days. Rabbi  YY Jacobson can i place the link on our web site and on our friends website so we may reach the nations. Please forgive my lack of education, i write with a electric dictionary & Thesaurus.

    Sincerely with gratitude

    Kenneth olen Smith

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • Anonymous -6 years ago

      You are welcome to place this link on your website. 

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • T

    test -6 years ago

    test

    test

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • T

    test -6 years ago

    test

    test

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    When we hear the call...

    When we hear the call, we have to believe and disregard comments from others. We have to choose Truth no matter what is around.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • EG

    Eliahu Gal-Or -6 years ago

    Could never live anywhere else...

    Nothing to add here; if I had not already  heard my call, thanks to my rebbe Reb Shlomo Carlebach זצ״ל who helped me and thousands more Jews respond to it, after reading this masterful article I would start packing up for aliyah.

    Since I already did that forty years ago and have never regretted it a single minute, all I can say is that I am waiting to welcome you to reality and your real home.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • JPR

    Judith P. Rhine -6 years ago

    Lech Lecho

                                                                     Lech Lecho

     

    I have just read your article on Lech Lecho, on line. Lech Lecha has touched my soul, through most of my life. (I am told I'm a senior citizen). I was involved in kiruv on one on one  relationships for very many years. I had been Zoche to learn Lech Lecha with most of these women (ofcourse, taking into account their background and how much they already knew about being a torah JEW). It cerainly is a lesson for all time and place. Some of these women took on a Torah life, and some didn't......Some were frum from birth, with no education outside of the home, and glowed with this parsha. and..... unfortunately there are those, who with great family pressure, or disappointment with  Torah Jews, who didn't always follow the rules of ben adam lechaveiro....... I still find  extraordinary greatness in this Parsha, and personal growth, as I still read the words, which I learned in second grade and then again in High School (so very many years ago). Ask my children ( or my older granchildren) what Mommy's favorite parsha is------and they know the answer.

    May you have continued Hatzllacha in helping klal Yisroel on our road to Moshiach Tzidkainu.  Kol Tuv. Mrs. Judy Rhine

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    inappropriate illustration?

    I think this picture is highly suggesti of an anti-Semitic meme

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • RLS

    Rachel Leah Stanger -6 years ago

    Lech Lecha

    So true.  We are so ensconced into our egos today that we form our own blockages

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • NTRL

    Not the Rich Landlord -6 years ago

    We are not all rich landlords!

    So......I honestly want to know why the landlord is selfish?  I disagree!  I, myself, am a landlord.  I am not a large corporation.  I am a sole proprietor with nine properties. I bought these during the subprime market, when banks were making many foolish loans, and then loaning back down payment funds in the form of Home Equity Lines of Credit.  I used the same $40,000 to make all of these purchases.  Unlike the other investors who sent keys back to the bank or went through foreclosures and short sales, I held on by working, working, working, working, working, and then working some more!

    I have gone to several charities and worked with them on behalf of my good tenants who have fallen onto hard times.  Without the help of these charities, I would be forced to evict the families immediately.  I depend on the rent to meet my own expenses.  And, far from becoming rich, I am not even breaking even, let alone making a profit on my real estate investments. The very first year, I lost more than $40,000.  It was more than we could deduct from our taxes!  It took about ten years before I was losing ONLY about $5000  a year. I still do not break even.

    Perhaps, over time, this situation will turn around, but at the present time, I supplement each investment with my own earnings, to make the monthly rent payments. pay property taxes, and maintain the properties. I work more than full-time to meet my own expenses and come up with the negative cash flow amounts I need every month to remain solvent. When a tenant does not fufill their lease or does damage, or their animals do damage, my cash flow suffers even worse.   My husband keeps trying to tell me that this is business and not social work and I should go ahead and just evict these families, swiftly. 

    I would say that about half the time, when I work with families, they are able to turn themselves around and catch up.  I have gone into the home and taught people how to budget, how to buy quality goods second hand, how to supplement their own income with a part-time business that suits them well, etc. The other half of the time, like the landlord in the story, I can be out about $4000 to $6000 for not having done the swift eviction. Ten years later, the properties are still not even worth the full amount I paid for them. 

    Please comment back.  I want to hear feedback, please. My husband and I continually argue!

    --- Not the Rich Landlord People Think I am

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • SE

    Salomon Englander -6 years ago

    Response

    Wow! This reminds US that the Torah we read and learn is not JUST an old story (that some people mistaken it speaks to US if we learn it weekly it will guide us in to more happens and fulfillment in life.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • MAJ

    Miranda A Jacobson -6 years ago

    response to two large tears

    Hi Rabbi, yes I am trying to learn what HS wants of me and what he does not.  I helped someone recently and made a friend and then somewhere else where I usually help had to pull away.  It is interesting how HS guides us.  I have to remember when a door closes it's okay because I'm not supposed to be there in the first place.  Anyway... thank you for this essay.  I am trying to learn and listen and be where I am meant to be. 

    Good Shabbas,
    Miranda A. Jacobson

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • D

    Devorah -6 years ago

    I Do Not Agree

    Two large tears for you, R. Jacobson,

    I have been reading your weekly parsha essays for more than 15 years and regularly find myself moved, enlightened and intrigued. 
     
    Not this week, sadly. Why try to parse what haShem told Abram? It was first and foremost geographical. Very clearly stated. To imagine otherwise is, in my opinion, to distort and give cause to all those who don’t want to hear what G-d wants. A people he loves to take care of the land he loves. Can’t do that from America or anywhere but here, no matter how changed your paradigm is.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Essay Lech Lecha

Rabbi YY Jacobson
  • October 4, 2010
  • |
  • 26 Tishrei 5771
  • |
  • 2320 views
  • Comment

Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein- In the loving memory of Rabbi Gavriel Noach and Rivki Holtzberg and all of the Mumbai Kedoshim. And in loving memory of a young soul Alta Shula Swerdlov, daughter of Rabbi Yossi and Hindel Swerdlov

Class Summary:

Two Large Tears - 4,000 Years Ago a Lone Man Heard a Voice. Can It Still Speak to Us Today?

Related Classes

Please help us continue our work
Sign up to receive latest content by Rabbi YY

Join our WhatsApp Community

Join our WhatsApp Community

Ways to get content by Rabbi YY Jacobson
Connect now
Picture of the authorPicture of the author