| The Bigger Picture |

A Gaping Void   

It is interesting that when one says Kaddish as a yasom, the name of the niftar is not mentioned

For me, the images of 5781 are the pictures that appeared in the papers upon the passing of our gedolim.

In 5781 we lost Rav Dovid Feinstein and Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, both of whom I had a connection to. (These losses compounded the loss of Rav Yaakov Perlow in 5780.) What I saw in these three gedolim, what Klal Yisrael lost, is an unparalleled commitment to Klal Yisrael.

Rav Dovid Feinstein was a posek acharon, the final halachic word. Any posek in the world who had a sh’eilah would come to him, and there was no sh’eilah he would turn away, no area of halachah that was not his forte. I had the zechus to come into Rav Feinstein’s daled amos quite a few times, as he served as sandek at several brissim where I was the mohel.

Rav Dovid Soloveitchik was my son-in-law’s rebbi, and every time I went to Eretz Yisrael I would visit him. He was a delight to speak with because he personified the Brisker derech. He may have lived in Eretz Yisrael, but his head was in Brisk. The tradition of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik and Rav Velvel Soloveitchik was in his DNA. When you spoke to him, you could truly feel a connection to the previous generation.

The Novominsker Rebbe was not eager to accept the mantle of leadership of Agudas Yisrael. But he took it upon himself because he recognized that there was a void, so he stepped in to fill that void. He felt a responsibility for the klal.

It is interesting that when one says Kaddish as a yasom, the name of the niftar is not mentioned. Why is that? Wouldn’t listeners want to know who the person is saying Kaddish for? Perhaps it is because every person who is alive has an opportunity to be mekadesh Shem Shamayim. It is our responsibility in this world, each person with his own talents. When someone is niftar, he leaves a vacuum with the loss of this potential. By saying “yisgadal v’yiskadash shemei rabbah…” the yasom proclaims his determination to fill that void.

This is what we, all of us, members of Klal Yisrael, have to do. We’ve lost so many great people, and each loss leaves a tremendous void. In response, we must step up to try to fill it — whether by learning more, davening more, feeling a stronger achrayus for the tzibbur, or creating a stronger connection with previous generations.

With the approach of 5782, we each must do our part to fill the void in Klal Yisrael.


Rabbi Paysach Krohn is a mohel, writer, world-acclaimed speaker and author of the Maggid series.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 876)

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