THE BATTLE FOR "SHALOM"

 

It would be in place at this point to expand a bit more on Maran Rav Schneur’s lifelong struggle against “Machlokes.” Yes it was a struggle; at times it was a very strenuous struggle. He spoke against it; he was constantly on guard against it and involved himself actively wherever he saw it raising its head. He would take the initiative, calling sides together- at times literally dragging them together, clarifying issues; making each side see the opposing view; at times pointing out what each side stands to benefit by giving in a little; he would see to it that they settle in a Torah manner-either amongst themselves or with a Din Torah if necessary-with honor and respect. And then-back to harmony. Talmidim probably remember this struggle-and it was by and large a successful struggle- more than many other areas of Rav Schneur’s endeavors.

This Talmid remembers a Simchas Torah not that long before his passing where Rav Schneur spoke passionately against Machlokes from the bimah. Usually Simchas Torah was devoted to Kabolas Ohl Torah (accepting the yoke of Talmud Torah)- to recognizing the Ashreichem Yisroel, the Hakol Shelochem!/the great fortune it is to be a Jew and to have Torah. But, for whatever the reason, that Simchas Torah talk was devoted to the topic of harmony as opposed to discord.

Rav Schneur read in fiery tones from the letter of the Rambam (printed in his Igros) to his son against Machlokes:

Do not foul your soul with quarrel, which devours body, soul and wealth. What is left afterwards? I have seen men fall, families break up, Ministers deposed, cities laid desolate. Peoples who were scattered and were no more. Righteous men who lost their way, men of valor tumbled from their heights, the distinguished disgraced-and all for quarrel’s sake. Nevi’im Nib’u Chachomim Chikmu-prophets have said prophesy and wise men espoused wisdom, yet none have fully plumbed and expressed the evil of Machlokes. Therefore my son, detest it and flee from it! Shun all who love it and stir it up! Shun those who bear it as you would a plague, lest you yourself be infected with this dread disease!”

The words were read with such concern, even anxiety, that the impression was they were meant to be a Tzavo’oh L’doros-meant for posterity.

In fact the very last talk given for Agudas Israel (printed by B.M.G. in Noam Siach Vol. I) was on the need for Torah Jewry to unite, to combine the various strengths of each individual community in the struggle to raise high the banner of Torah in Klal Yisroel. [It was terribly difficult for Rav Schneur to go to that dinner. He was close to the final stages of his illness and was racked with pain. He was literally carried there-held up on both sides-but, as always, he went because of the importance of the message he carried. And, let it be added, his parting words to the president of Agudas Yisroel, Rav Moshe Sherer [shlita] (ZT'L) who visited him in the hospital on the Sunday before his Petirah, was to always be on guard to maintain Sholom amongst all groups in the Agudah (Rav Dovid Schustal shlita).]

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