The Daily Chizzuk of our Rebbe Rav Eliezer Berland shlit”a – What Rabbi Yochanan needed to answer Vespasian
Tuesday, 10 Sivan 5783 – Judaism is the essence of a person
These are his holy words:
Rabbi Yochanan said to Vespasian, “You will be emperor.” Then Vespasian wanted to kill him. What’s the matter? What crime did Rabbi Yochanan commit? All in all, he told him that he would be emperor. Why kill him? To kill him for what?
Vespasian said to him, “You don’t see that I’m not emperor? I’m going to kill you.” Vespasian asked, “Why didn’t you come to me until today? If I’m the emperor, then come! Why didn’t you come?”
Rabbi Yochanan answered: It’s impossible to leave the walls [of Jerusalem].
Why is it impossible to leave? Kill the Biryonim – they are the minority and you are the majority.
The Gemara says that Rabbi Yochanan was silent. But Rabbi Yochanan had needed to tell them what’s the significance? The Biryonim would repent. The biggest evildoer will repent.
The biggest evildoer has a lot of klipot [evil husks]. Now the klipot overwhelmed him, but every Jew is holy of holies. Even the biggest evildoer wants to learn Torah. The biggest evildoer in the end will also be a Rosh Yeshiva.
There were very big evildoers, evildoers who ate on Yom Kippur. We see Rav Shalom Arush who is a great amongst those who return people in teshuva (repentance). He didn’t even know that there is Yom Kippur. He didn’t even know that there is such a thing in the world.
Rav Arush related: When I was flying in a helicopter in the War of Attrition against Egypt – he would descend on a rope and take people out of the canyon, he would treat them and bring them up to the helicopter. He related that when the Egyptians were firing on them, he screamed “Hashem God” automatically. The biggest secular Jew screamed “Hashem God” automatically.
The war ended. He forgot that there is God in the world, until he went through a serious car accident, and the doctors told him that he has no chance – only God could save you.
Rav Arush didn’t believe in anything. He didn’t know that there is God; this didn’t even concern him. Yes/no, he wouldn’t argue with anyone – what was he lacking? He’s a good soldier, he’s a paramedic, he’s a combat soldier, he flies with helicopters, they lower him down in every mission inside the cliff where there are wounded soldiers, and he treats them, and brings them up. What, is he lacking God? Everything is fine.
Until one day he went through a very serious car accident. He was lying wounded for almost a year. The secular doctors told him, only God can save you. In the end, they performed on him open heart surgery over a course of three hours and succeeded in saving him. All the time that he would come to get checked, they told him, “God saved you. You know, this isn’t us.” They told him themselves.
He related to me word-by-word: They told him, “God saved you.” What is God? What does he have to do with God? What is he lacking? He lives wonderfully.
In the end, he understood that there is God. Here everyone is telling him that God saved you. All the most secular doctors are yelling “God.”
We were walking in Haifa with the flags. After this, we began to run with Torah scrolls. In the right hand a Torah scroll, in the left hand a torch, and running in the street; everyone, the most secular, the biggest heretics would say to us, “A little slower, slower, we want to kiss the Torah scroll.”
All of this we brought, because we are discussing how the biggest Biryonim in the end do teshuva – this is the essence. Now someone wrote an article against the heretics, in which he writes that Judaism is not a religion like the other religions. People err in thinking that there is Islam, there is Christianity, and there is another third religion, but really – Judaism is essence, this is the person; the Torah is the person.