Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Second Half of the R' Frand Teshuva Derasha - 5777

The following is a continuation of the summary of some of the thoughts said by Rabbi Frand in his teshuva derasha played Thursday night in the NY area. The first half of the derasha can be found here Same rules as usual apply. I have attempted to summarize many of the thoughts to the best of my abilities. Any inconsistencies are the results of my transcription and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand said that he gave this derasha in Lakewood to some Panamanians who had come up to be in Lakewood for three days. The shiur was attended by some Syrians from Flatbush who said that among their peer group they made a deal that they would leave their smartphones in the car and transfer their calls to a flip phone which would be brought into the house.

R' Frand talked about how during the summer he was part of a tour which went to Lithuania and Poland. They visited Ponovich which is now a bakery and cafe. They visited Telshe and while the building still stands on the outside, inside the building is falling apart.

They also visited concentration camps and R' Frand said that he was concerned about what reaction he would have, or whether there would be an impact on him. He said that the greatest reaction he had was when he went to the Kelem and visited the Kever Achim of Kelem.

R' Frand quoted a book from R' Dessler about Kelem which described it as a place with a concern for one's fellow man, an abhorrence of honor, a pursuit of truth and a place of menuchas hanefesh - serenity. This was the most prized of all spiritual achievements - always be calm and avoid anything that could lead to distraction or confusion. R' Frand that he envied that, although he said that he could not have lasted a day there. He said that a marching band once marched by the yeshiva and only one boy looked up - and he was chastised as it was not his concern.

R' Frand told the story of the end of the yeshiva - July 25, 1941. The boys from the yeshiva were told to march to a place in the forest and dig a massive grave. R' Schechter describes that the boys walked and sang Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu - a song of happiness, often sung on Simchas Torah. There was no panic or outbursts. The masghgiach -  R' Daniel Moshowitz asked for permission to address the boys and was granted permission. He told them that they were like the Asarah Harugei Malchu - a kaparah for the whole world so that it could continue to exist. The executioner was losing patience and told him to finish up. R' Moshowitz then told the people let us be neither confused or frightened, but rather let us accept on ourselves this awesome responsibility. He then turned to the executioner and said I have finished, now you can begin. He mowed them down and they fell into the pit. That was the end of the yeshiva. 

R' Frand remarked that was the result of a life born out of a purposeful existence. A life of being a good Jew. We need to avoid distractions and live a purposeful existence.

R' Frand noted that at the end of Yom Kippur we blow shofar. This connects back to Rosh Hashana and the shofar, but the laws of shofar on Rosh Hashana are learned from the laws of shofar of Yovel. The laws of something that is done every year was learned out of an event that took place every fifty years - an event which we have not even observed in 2000 years. Why? Because that is an event which is freedom - which frees us from the shackles which enslave us. R' Hai Gaon says the last shofar on Yom Kippur is meant to remind us of Yovel - of being free from our various yetzer hara. 

R' Frand said that we can take a step towards that freedom by controlling our smartphones and not to become enslaved. And when we hear the shofar on Yom Kippur we can say - I am not a slave to the master in my pocket and can take steps towards freeing ourselves from our various and difficult yetzer haras.

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