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A Helpful Experience

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg Ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

A Helpful Experience

One reason we may go through a trouble is in order to help others when they are in that trouble. One may go through financial difficulties and then become wealthy.[1] When the poor now come to him, he can be more sympathetic and help them out. One who loses a relative can be more sensitive to another who had this occur.[2]


It was because of this that Avraham was told לך לך—to be a wanderer—as he would now know how it feels to be a guest and the like. This would compel him to help those in a similar situation. Due to this he became the pillar of kindness that he was.


The Chernobyl Rebbe, the Meor Einayim, was once imprisoned where he endured much suffering. After being released, he became more involved in פדיון שבוים in which many times he was able to get prisoners released from prison. This was because he actually felt the pain of those imprisoned since he was once in that situation.


A person in Eretz Yisrael who was a Nobel Prize winner in mathematics lost his child during his lifetime and was inconsolable. During the Shiva R’ Gustman[3] (1908-1991) came, and the two men cried together. After he left, the man said that R’ Gustman was the only one that was able to comfort him. He explained because R’ Gustman’s only son was killed by the Nazis. The fact that someone else was in that situation and was able to relate to him gave this man comfort that no one else was able to. R’ Gustman also told him, “My son didn’t merit burial in Eretz Yisrael while yours did merit burial in Eretz Yisrael.”


So, we must remember the difficult times we endured when we see others going through similar. Then we will be filled with compassion and help them. Hashem wanted traits of kindness, mercy, and righteousness in the world. He therefore chose us as a nation since we were slaves. Through slavery we can understand the downtrodden. In this way we can grasp,ואהבתם את הגר כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים, you should love the convert because you were strangers in Mitzrayim.[4]

[1] It has been said, “You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy.”

[2] It doesn’t have to be a big trouble. People may ask you for a ride. Remember the times when you didn’t have a car and had to rely on others.

[3] In his youth he was known as an illui (genius) and learned with his Chavrusa R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz in Grodno. In the Grodno Yeshiva he learned from R’ Shimon Shkop. R’ Gustman was a rav, and the last dayan (rabbinic judge) in Vilna during World War Two. After the war he moved to the United States and headed a Yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York. In 1971, he immigrated to Eretz Yisrael, where he established the Netzach Yisrael – Vilna Ramiles Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. On Thursday afternoons he gave an open, high-level shiur in the yeshiva, attended by rabbis, intellectuals, religious court judges, a Supreme Court justice and various professors.

[4] Devarim 10:19. Also Vayikra 19:34. See Eicha 2:13, Rashi. The Tiferes Yehonasan (Vaera, s.v. אלה ראשי) writes that the reason Mitzrayim didn’t enslave Shevet Levi is because Paroh saw that it’s from Levi that the savior of  the Jewish people (Moshe) will come from and Paroh thought מי שאינו בצרה אינו יכול להושיע, one who is not in the trouble is unable to save. If the savior of the Jewish people doesn’t go through the pain of the enslavement then he won’t be able to help them because then he can’t feel the pain of others! This was the claim of the Jewish people when it says ולא שמעו אל משה…ומעבודה קשה, they didn’t listen to Moshe because of…hard work (Shemos 6:9), they were saying that they have great work whereas Shevet Levi is free from all this so how will Hashem appoint such a leader who isn’t involved in this trouble? Moshe also had this objection as he said הן בני ישראל לא שמעו אלי…פרעה, the Jewish people haven’t listened to me so how will Paroh listen to me (Shemos 6:12).

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