It says in the Gemara that when Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi passed away so anyone who was there at that time was rewarded with a special place in Olam Haboh. What was so special about being there when Rebbi passed away?
When Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi passed away there was a tremendous demonstration of the appreciation of the gadol hador. He was on his deathbed and people were standing outside jammed together. A huge multitude. And they were all osek in tefilla; they were begging Hashem for Rebbi, that he shouldn’t be taken away.
Now, that you have to know is one of the highest forms of avodas Hashem, when people understand the value of the chachmei hatorah in every generation; in every generation the leaders of the generation are given authority by Hakodosh Boruch Hu almost like Moshe Rabeinu. They used to call the chachmei hatorah “Moshe.” משה שפיר קאמרת – Moshe, you’re saying a good pshat. The leaders were looked up to like Moshe Rabeinu. To appreciate the gedolei hador is part of our avodas Hashem.
Every generation has its leaders and it’s of utmost importance to us to be loyal to these leaders. It’s of utmost importance! Don’t make any mistake about that! A very great error is made when people say, “It’s not like it used to be; it’s not like the old time gedolim.” No; this is our generation and these are our gedolei Yisroel.
Now, in the times of Rebbe – he was a human being; they saw him. He walked like a human being. He ate like a human being. He slept like a human being. And still they were all aware, they were cognizant of the greatness of the gadol hador. And therefore they were weeping and begging Hashem.
And finally when Rebbi passed away a bas kol came out and said, “All those who are here and participated in this tremendous universal effort to save his life, are all מזומן לחיי העולם הבא.” A tremendous thing! If you pray, if you are mispallel, you want the gedolei Yisroel to continue to live, then you also in a certain sense you should know you are gaining tremendous sechar.
Have in mind always the welfare of our great Torah leaders! We need them. We can’t afford chas v’shalom to lose any of them.
Now, I know today that today it’s a world of kalus rosh and people have a tendency to say that it’s not like it used to be, and that this is not the same kind of gadol. But that’s a tragic mistake. That’s what they said after Moshe Rabeinu passed away, when they saw Yehoshua take over. You know, when some of the ziknei hador looked at Yehoshua they said, “Oy, look what happened to us! Who is Yehoshua compared to Moshe Rabeinu?!”
And Hakodosh Boruch Hu said, “Nothing doing! Like I was with Moshe Rabeinu, I’ll be with Yehoshua.” Of course he wasn’t like Moshe Rabeinu but even in Moshe Rabeinu’s time, did everybody appreciate Moshe? Not everyone appreciated him. The Gemara says a terrible thing. Moshe was a heavy man and the Gemara says that some people looked at him and said, “כמה עבים שוקיו – Look how thick his paunches are.” That’s how you look at Moshe Rabeinu?! But he’s a person after all, a live person. He seems the same as we are. Could be he even coughed once in a while.
But now, when Moshe Rabeinu passed away, so now people said, “Oh, we lost the great one, Moshe. But Yehoshua is different. Who is Yehoshua?”
“Oh no,” Hakodosh Boruch Hu said, “כאשר הייתי עם משה, just like I was with Moshe, I’ll be with Yehoshua too.”
And therefore all those who were at the ashkavta d’Rebbi, they gained a tremendous zechus because they showed that they were eager with all their hearts that Rebbi should live. They cried out and cried out, all together – it was a tremendous demonstration of kavod hatorah which is kavod shomayim.
TAPE # E-176