Sunday, June 12, 2022

HARMONY THROUGH OPPOSITES - what is the message?

I have long thought that Rav Lopiansky’s appreciation of his father, Rabbi Bentzion Lopiansky, which appears in his collection Time Pieces, is the most powerful hesped of a father by a son that I have ever read. The lessons Reb Bentzion taught his son about how to put oneself in the shoes of another are literally unforgettable.

Reb Bentzion once saw Aaron, then nine or ten years old, tagging along after a group of boys in the Bialystoker Shul on the Lower East Side, where he served as the shamash. The boys were teasing a homeless vagrant who slept in the shul’s furnace room, until he chased after them. Reb Bentzion called his son over, and spoke calmly and warmly as always.

“You see that man?” he asked. “He was born a cute little baby whose mother stroked him and nursed him. She cooed to him and delighted when he cooed back and smiled at her. His father fantasized about his infant son achieving all those things he had failed to attain.

“Now look at what has become of him. Is it not a tragedy? Should we not be moved to tears? And you are compounding that tragedy by taking a tzelem Elokim and treating him like dirt.”

Aaron’s tears flowed freely with both compassion for the vagrant and shame at his cruelty, as his father finished speaking even more softly than he had begun.

Suggested inspirational message from this book review

1 Jews are inherently like goyim
2. Even with Torah - basic decency is lacking
3. Without lessons from a sensitive parent it is is impossible to be a mensch

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