FedTalks Parshas Emor – Dayan Y Y Posen – Transcript
This week’s parsha we were given the mitza of sefiras haomer. It is a time when klal Yisroel is each meant to work on themselves to grow spiritually so that when we come to kabolas hatorah, to the yom tov of shavuos, we are holding a completely different spiritual level than that which we were holding when we began counting at Pesach.
I recently heard an incredible story which took place in America a number of years ago. One day a lady calls around her family and asked them if they could come around that evening, she needs to speak to them. They come around and she explains she has to apologize: “you know I have a certain condition that’s where I see bags, I look inside. You know about this, you commented on it before. I can’t help it. Well, tonight I went to a wedding of a friend and I came across the bag and I looked inside like I always do, but as luck would have it, this was the bag of the grandmother of the bride, of the kallah, and they thought I was trying to steal from it. To cut a long story short, I was evicted. I therefore wanted to tell you in advance, to apologise in case you hear about it, in case it causes you any embarrassment.” So, the children decided to cease this opportunity and to ask their mother what was with this obsession of hers with other people’s bags, it is not socially acceptable, why does she look into other people’s bags?
So, she explained.
“You know I was in Europe before the war. What you don’t know is that before I met your father, I was actually married once before. Unfortunately, a year into our marriage, we had a new-born baby, and the Nazis came, they took away my husband and I never saw him again. Shortly after, we were in the ghetto. They came to round us up and they announced “everyone is only allowed to take one bag with them. Come down, you have five minutes”. I had a brand new baby, I didn’t know what to do, so I took my baby and I put him at the bottom of a big bag and I put a little bit of sheets, softly, lightly on top. And I put a few other things, my siddur, my tehilim. And I took another bag and I put inside my candle sticks, I put some money hidden inside something else. I put some of my basic possessions. I went downstairs, hoping I was going to get away with taking two bags. You can’t imagine, the barking of the dogs, the screaming, the crying. Pandemonium. And in the middle of it, we were being herded towards the trucks and a soldier barked at me, pulled me over and hit me and said “one bag! You are only allowed one bag!”. I didn’t have a choice and I left behind the bag with my candle sticks and off I went, being herded along, with my fellow Yidden. Off the trucks drove.
It was incredibly squashed, people were crying and after a couple of minutes of the truck moving, I glanced down into my bag to check that my baby was okay. But at that moment I looked into my bag and I saw my candle sticks. In the middle of the noise, the screaming, the shouting, I put down the one bag. And I know it doesn’t make sense. I never saw my baby again. And everywhere I go, whatever bag I see, I stop to look inside. Because maybe, maybe in that bag…
We all go through life arryign two bags. We carry a bag of what is important to us, our family, our Yiddishkeit, our spirituality. And we carry another bag with luxury of life, wealth, trappings, distractions. One always has to keep checking that we have got that right bag.