By Rav Aryeh Z. Ginzberg
Chofetz Chaim Torah Center
I received last week the most amazing and uplifting phone call that I have ever received. I have no doubt that the chizuk I received from this very brief call will last a lifetime.
It all began about four years ago with a brief article that I wrote in these very pages, titled “An Eternal Chanukah Gift.” In the article, I wrote how inspired I was by the comments one young wife and mother shared with her husband. It was approximately one and a half years earlier at a derashah on the second day of Shavuos when I challenged my friends in shul to join me and start a new 5-to-10-minute seder of learning Mishnayos every day–an appropriate commitment to make on Shavuos, as the Ran explains that Shavuos is the Yom HaDin, the reckoning day, for limudhaTorah. A group followed the lead and began to learn every day. As Chanukah approached, we planned a siyum upon the completion of Shishah Sidrei Mishnah after one and a half years of learning together. Each person learned at his own individual pace; we were making one collective siyum.
What continues to inspire me was how one of the participants, who was about to make a siyum for the first time in his life, approached his wife and asked her what he should buy her for a Chanukah present. She responded that the fact that her husband was making a siyum on Shishah Sidrei Mishnah on Shabbos Chanukah was the best present she could ever ask for.
I wrote at the time how blessed this young husband and father was to be married to a woman who understands, even better than most of us, the blessings and z’chuyos that her husband brought to the home and family by this wonderful accomplishment. People spend all year running to different mekubalim for all types of segulos, when there is no greater segulah for bringing berachos to the home than the learning and completion of a masechta or a seder of Mishnayos.
While the article several years ago ended here, incredibly the story did not. The caller on the aforementioned phone call shared with me the most incredible and inspiring story. It seems that a young husband and father read that article on Shabbos afternoon and was moved by it. He brought it with him to shul and shared it with his rav before Shabbos Minchah. The rav, who is an incredible person who always looks for opportunities to raise his talmidim to the next level of avodasHashem, was also moved by it and discussed it with his talmidim over shaloshseudos. Several in the group were intrigued by the idea of a daily Mishnayosshiur and expressed interest in proceeding. The rav went home and immediately sent out an e-mail that the next morning, Sunday, a shiur would begin with a short audio recording of the shiur along with the Mishnah text. The hope was that they would be able to get at least 25 participants in this new daily shiur.
Today, that Sunday-morning Mishnayosshiur sent via e-mail has 1,600 subscribers. But the story does not end there. The incredible success of this program inspired this dynamic rav to initiate other shiurim and programs. Today this has been the catalyst for 11 other e-mail-based learning programs that send out more than 20,000 e-mails to more than 10,000 subscribers each day.
All this–and even more yet to come–was started by an article that featured a story of how much I was inspired by the special comment made by a wife to her husband. I am eternally grateful to that wonderful and dynamic rav who called me to share in the great nachas that all who were involved in starting our little Mishnayosshiur should have from the continued z’chuyos and merit they all continue to receive with the ever-growing number of participants and programs.
It really is a very important lesson in life for each of us. Every person wants to live forever by creating a legacy that will continue to bring forth fruit long after we are gone. Most people think that legacies are only for the gedoleiha’dor or the biggest gevirim from amongst us. This inspiring phone call proves otherwise. Sometimes a simple, small commitment shared with a few friends and family members can spawn a quiet revolution, touching and changing the lives of countless others.
Last Shabbos I shared with the chevrah an incredible insight from the late roshyeshiva at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, Rav Simcha Sheps, zt’l. He asked a simple but insightful question: Why is it that the only parashah in the Torah with the word “death” in its title is ParashasAchareiMos? In contrast, the very parashah that speaks about the passing of the mother of Klal Yisrael, SarahImeinu, is called “Chayei Sarah,” the life of Sarah. The parashah that deals with the passing of Yaakov Avinu,the progenitor of the Shivtei Kah,is called “Vayechi,” and he lived. The very last parashah in the Torah, which deals with the death of the great leader of KlalYisrael, Moshe Rabbeinu, is called ‘V’zos HaBerachah.” Why is only the death of the two sons of Aharon given the name of Acharei Mos in its title?
Rav Sheps explained that in all the other instances of death, there is a continuation of sorts. The story doesn’t just end with the passing of that person. Sarah left a son, Yitzchak, to carry on her way of life; Yaakov had his 12 sons; and Moshe had his prime disciple, Yehoshua. Their lives and legacies continued to the next generation. However, the two sons of Aharon left no sons or students through whom their lives and legacies could live on, hence the title specifically here is AchareiMos.
As I mentioned earlier, this important lesson is a great source of chizuk to me personally and I hope for you as well. It should inspire us to continue to create new ideas and opportunities, for we never can know what will be the deciding factor that will define itself as our lasting legacy. Indeed this could well be the long-sought-after secret of life itself.
If anyone would like to witness for themselves the magnitude of how this little seed of learning has exploded into such an abundance of learning on so many levels, I invite you to join in the first-ever siyum on Shishah Sidrei Mishnah that was started by that rav on that Sunday morning several years ago, which will be celebrated on May 18 at the Marine Park Golf Course, 2280 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. For more information on the siyum or about joining their many online learning programs, please visit AteresShimon.org.