July 23, 2014
Beis Moshiach in #935, Tzivos Hashem

“Dear children,” began the afternoon teacher, “I’d like to announce that this year, the children of the upper grades will be going to camp in … Eretz Yisroel!”

“Wow!” “Fantastic!” exclaimed the students.

Just imagine, traveling to Eretz Yisroel to be there for two weeks, what a fabulous idea. We live in a neighborhood with gentiles of all kinds and we can really appreciate what it’s like to live only among Jews, in the holy atmosphere of Eretz Yisroel.

I remember something that happened to me lately, one of the times that I took the subway to do Mivtza T’fillin. I was sitting with my friend Chaim when I noticed a man with a beard who wasn’t wearing a yarmulke. I commented out loud to Chaim in Hebrew, “Hey, look at him on the left. In Eretz Yisroel they would be sure he is Jewish and would offer him t’fillin.”

We looked at him and chuckled and then I heard someone say, “It’s okay, I’m Jewish. Can I put on t’fillin?” 

I was taken aback. It turned out that he was a Hebrew speaking Jew who, in the course of a visit to a Chabad house somewhere, decided to grow a beard even though it was still hard for him to wear a yarmulke regularly.

After we put t’fillin on with him, he asked me, “What’s so important about putting on t’fillin? Before, you told me that I hastened Moshiach’s coming. Can one action, as important as it might be, create such a dramatic change that it will affect the entire world?”

I explained that the importance of one spiritual action cannot be measured in physical terms and so even one mitzva can tip the scales and bring the Geula. We parted with a smile and with wishes for “Moshiach now,” but the truth is that in my heart of hearts, his question made me wonder. I wanted to research a more thorough answer.

I went back to my usual activities and to looking forward to camp in Eretz Yisroel. In order to be able to go on the trip, I had to get permission from the assistant principal who would attest that my behavior throughout the last year was excellent with no disciplinary problems.

Unfortunately, I must tell you that I wasn’t always as good a student as I am now. For the first half a year, I was a troublemaker. For example, during class I sat quietly and listened but beforehand I had made sure that one of the kids would get a paper airplane and would fly it in the middle of class. You can well imagine that flying a plane in the middle of class did not help the students concentrate. What connection did I have with this? Of course, I didn’t see or hear anything …

The teacher was smart and he knew that I was involved in things like this behind the scenes, but it was hard for him to prove what he suspected. I was sent to the assistant principal often, but I mostly managed to avoid punishment by presenting various excuses.

Time passed and one day I changed completely. I realized that if I did not make a drastic change and start behaving like a Tamim, Moshiach would come and catch me unprepared. In addition, I would have a hard time adjusting to high school and the only one who would lose out would be me.

Now I had to go to the assistant principal’s office and get his approval of my behavior as a soldier in Tzivos Hashem throughout the year, which would mean I deserved to go to the camp in Eretz Yisroel. You understand why I was so nervous. I knew that I didn’t deserve it.

True, I had improved and had even changed from one extreme to another, but the impression I had made for a good part of the year still remained and I did not deserve such a big prize as going to camp in Eretz Yisroel. Certainly not because “I did someone a favor” and started behaving as was fitting for a Chassidishe boy.

But after all that, I still hoped I would get permission. The night before I went to the assistant principal, I spoke to my father about my concern. He said to me, “There is an incident that happened with the Tzemach Tzedek when someone asked him permission to go to Eretz Yisroel and he said, ‘Make Eretz Yisroel here.’

“What do you think,” asked my father, “can one person make the entire world rise to the level of the holiness of Eretz Yisroel?” My father did not wait for my response but said, “A Jew should not be thinking about that. A Jew does what he has to do and you do the same. If you don’t get permission to go to camp in Eretz Yisroel, try and make Eretz Yisroel here!

“A Jew does not criticize any positive act. Every act, even the smallest, adds up. Together, they create a Geula reality in the world.” 

What I heard from my father reminded me of the person who put on t’fillin in the subway and the question he asked me at the end. Now, it was clear to me.

The next day, I went to the assistant principal’s office, feeling confident. I knew that even if I wouldn’t get the permission I wanted, that would be okay and I would try to make here, outside of Eretz Yisroel, into Eretz Yisroel.

I knocked at the door and the assistant principal opened the door and asked me to sit down. “I understand you want to get permission to go on the trip,” he said. 

I nodded and he said, “What do you think, do you deserve it?”

His question confused me. I had no choice but to tell him what happened on the subway and about my conversation with my father. He listened quietly and then said, “You know what? In order to know how a place should look that is transformed into Eretz Yisroel, you should go to Eretz Yisroel. I am sure that if, chas v’shalom, Moshiach will be delayed until you return, you will know how to make Eretz Yisroel here and bring Geula to the world.”



Correction: Regarding the Tzivos Hashem story printed in issue 794, the mohel was R’ Peretz Mochkin.



Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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