Is there any specific aveiros which caused the gezeiros of Tach v’Tat (1648-1649)? I saw in a sefer that the it was because of a lack of proper respect for davening?
Were any specific aveiros there that caused the misfortunes in the days of Chmielnitzki and the Cossacks in gezeiros Tach?
And that is a question that we in retrospect find it hard to answer. Because looking back at the great generations of the Shach and the Magen Avrohom, we think they were perfect generations. And the truth is, compared to us they were.
But we have to realize that there was already at that time a petrifying of the senses. People in frum communities sometimes can be become so hardened that they do things by rote and idealism almost dies out.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you go to a certain place – I won’t say where it is – a certain shtibel and you see everybody has a beard. Everybody is no question frum. It’s glatt in everything. And still you look at the davenen and you see that there is something lacking. There’s no spark. They’re standing and looking at each other and their mouths are going a mile a minute. They’re looking at each other during davening. Even sometimes one is talking to the other while the other man is davening at a mile a minute.
So you see that it’s only externalities. Inside it’s dead.
Now these things can happen even in frum communities and the navi Yeshaya already thundered against this in the times of the Bayis Rishon. וַתְּהִי יִרְאָתָם אֹתִי מִצְוַת אֲנָשִׁים מְלֻמָּדָה – their fear of me was only a mitzvah of people who were trained to do things. It doesn’t mean trained like we are trained. They were better trained than us but it could happen.
So gezeiras Tach was a prod. Hakodosh Boruch Hu was prodding them. Not everything was as simple as we think it was. Had we been there, we would have seen the faults. There were mochichim in those days who pointed out their faults. There’s no question, they weren’t as good as the people had been in the generations before and now Hakodosh Boruch Hu said, “A little bloodletting is required to restore you to your conscience, to your awareness that there is Hakodosh Boruch Hu and that you have to pray with more heart.”
And so when you come to refa’einu, you have to pray with all your heart. With all your heart! When you come to maariv, to the words שומר עמו ישראל לעד, you have to pray with all your heart! “Hashem protect us!” It shouldn’t be rattled off. And in case you forget that there’s a Protector so sometimes He reminds you.
Like it states by ויבא עמלק when the Bnei Yisroel were coming out of Mitzrayim and Amalek attacked. The Medrash says it’s like a child whose father is carrying him. So the child is sitting on his father’s shoulder and on that perch he feels secure and he’s looking at the scenery.
After a while he forgets that his father is carrying him, so he says, “Where is my father? Where is my father at?”
The father says, “Aha! Where is your father?!” So the father lowers him on the ground near a dog.
As the dog rushes at him, the child shouts, “Father! Father!”
So the father says, “Oh, now you know where I am.”
They’re coming out of Mitzrayim and Hakodosh Boruch Hu is carrying them al kanfei nesharim. They had conquered their enemies. Their enemies were drowned in the Yam Suf. On all sides, they saw the yad hachazakah, that Hashem was with them and protecting them. So after a while, they become too confident; they forget that Hashem is with them. So ויבא עמלק, Amalek came like a dog and he gave them a bite and they were reminded that they need Hashem. That’s Chmielnitzki. He was the dog.
TAPE # 77 (July 1975)