Some Acquire Their Portion in a Single Moment

Yesh KoNa OlaMo BeShaAh Achas  –  Some acquire their portion in the World to Come, in a Single Instant

Why did Rebbi Yehudah HaNassi weep when he heard these episodes? After all he was a great man who had accomplished many great things; whilst these were not such great people who had in a monumental moment, found the strength to perform a single monumental accomplishment?

He wept for all those opportunities in which he had failed to capitalise on such Single Moments, in which he could have accomplished another monumental achievement.

I have somewhat modified a valuable article by Yitzchok Adlerstein, on December 27th, 2012

Akiva Finkelstein is an 18 year old from Bet El. An honor student in a dati Leumi school, he trained for eight years, and became Israel’s welterweight boxing champion, chosen to represent Israel at an international competition in Armenia. Scheduled to fight motza’ei Shabbos, a change in the rules demanded that he be weighed in on Shabbos itself. His father flew in to help argue the case for him, and convinced the powers that be that Akiva could not get on the scale, but it would be OK if the officials lifted him on to the scale. At the appointed hour, the overall boss balked at this in a monumental act of small-mindedness, and told Akiva that he would either step on the scale himself or be disqualified. The secular Israeli coach urged him to do it. Akiva refused; in a single instant, he sacrificed eight years of training.

There were three kinds of reactions. Two were expected. Some cheered Akiva on, speaking of his kiddush Hashem and his exemplary commitment to principle. Others mocked halacha itself, arguing that some silly old religious rules should not have gotten in the way. But there was a third group who denigrated Akiva for wasting 8 eight years devoted to training when he should have been learning during all or most of those hours. Akiva was a loser, and so were his parents.

This perspective is the symptom of a sick mind and a sick heart. Is this typical of the yeshivah world. Would these same people also mock those about whom the Gemara says, Yesh Kona OlaMo BeShaAh Achas? What does it say about those who could fail to see the power and beauty of that boy’s heroic decision?

Even if they take modest pride in their own intense learning, have they no regard for others who have a slightly different perspective? Does immersion in Torah mean that one becomes oblivious to others of a lesser calibre? Is this the glory of the remarkable resurgence of limud Torah in our generation?

And the Sinas Chinam that underpins this arrogance: did they not realize that the boy will likely become aware of their sneering and that it may well hurt his feelings?

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