It's Not About Minyan
“I’ve lived in my village for many years, unable to daven with a minyan,” cried a villager to the holy Reb Meir of Premishlan, whose yahrtzeit is Iyar 29. “Please, can the Rebbe bless me that I should merit to move to the big city?!” Reb Meir replied with a story: The souls of a rov, shochet, and villager came to the heavenly court. The court reviewed the rov’s life—his learning, teaching, and halachic rulings. All were impeccable. “What about the children from poor homes?” they asked. “Did you do everything in your power to ensure they received a Jewish education?” Silence. The rov was escorted through a door to the left. Next came the shochet. He was found to be a yirei shomayim. He performed his work honestly and to the highest kosher standards. But then came another question: “What did you do for widows, orphans, and the poor? Did you offer them discounts for Shabbos and yom tov?” He, too, was escorted through the left door. Now it was the villager’s turn. Without hesitation, he headed straight for the same door. Was he any better than these two men?!
“Come back!” he was ordered. “But I know I didn’t learn as much Torah as I should have,” the villager protested. “And I was only able to daven with a minyan twice a year when I traveled to the city.” “What about the many Jewish travelers who passed through your village? Did you engage with them at all?” the court inquired. It became clear that the simple villager had been an outstanding host and inspiration to so many Jews throughout his life. He was escorted through a door to the right.
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Turning back to the villager before him, Reb Meir reassured him: “You, my dear Yid, were sent into this world to be a villager. Be confident in your place and do your best to fulfill the mission Hashem intended for you.” It takes a tzaddik to make such a bold decision on a serious matter. He knew this wasn’t simply a matter of choice; minyan or no minyan. It was a question concerning a soul’s mission and purpose. Today we’re living a roller-coaster life. It’s difficult to change routines and habits, especially when so many of these routines (minyan, daily mikveh, weekly chesed activities) are ones we’ve had mesiras nefesh for in the past. How can we just take on a new life? It becomes easier when we understand and internalize the idea that our predicament isn’t a choice or a mishap; it’s entirely orchestrated by Hashem. Instead of viewing our current chaos as wasted time, let’s open our eyes to the opportunities Hashem is presenting us. It’s frustrating not to be able to do what we typically find fulfilling, but let’s try finding fulfillment in the many “passersby” Hashem is sending our way. The specific mission may involve our own family, a neighbor, coworker, or student. It’s not the same for everyone. But we are all temporarily in the position of tackling a unique mission. Villagers for a day (or many days!). May we merit to serve Hashem under better circumstances, very soon. In fact, under perfect circumstances, with the coming of Moshiach now. Good Shabbos, Rabbi Lipskier