Monday, June 23, 2008
A Sinner...No More! [Part One]
As the neon lights shone, and the enchanting music was played at their wedding, the newlywed Cohens [not their real name] were certain that these sights and sounds would accompany them forever. Unfortunately, this illusion would not last too long. Soon the bright lights became blinding, and the pleasant sounds turned to screeching, as Mrs. Cohen discovered, to her horror, that she was married to an evil man. Life became a nightmare as the decibel level in their home soared and resounded throughout the neighborhood.
She tried everything to get her husband to change his ways: sometimes with soft words, at other times harshly - but to no avail. Itzik Cohen was so corrupt that neither words nor feelings could penetrate him. Mrs. Cohen soon realized that she could not live with him any more. Broken-hearted, she went to the Beis Din [Rabbinical court] to initiate divorce proceedings.
Itzik Cohen received the summons to the Beis Din coldly. He couldn't understand what they wanted of him. The pain of others never touched his heart. In fact, sometimes he even enjoyed it…
The Tel-Aviv Rabbinical court [Beis Din] is a house of tears. It was here, before its dayanim [judges] that the Cohens came for their hearing. With pain-filled hearts, despite the multitude of similar cases that had come before them, the judges listened to the plaints of this unfortunate woman, who described her plight. A quick glance at her husband’s face gave them a strong indication of the veracity of her words. His blood was beginning to boil. After a few minutes of hearing his wife’s accusations, he burst into a fury of curses and angry screams, which even stunned the judges.
At the table on the side of the judges' stand a pleasant Modzitz melody could be heard. The eyes of the man sitting there were cast downward, into the text of a Gemara [Talmudic tractate], which absorbed his thoughts. His fingers quickly ran through the lines of text, and as he hummed his tune, he learned these lines for the nth time. It appeared that that the thunderous screams did not reach his ears. In fact, he appeared to be completely disconnected from his surroundings…
The dispute in the Beis Din reached fever-pitched tones, but he didn’t seem to hear them. He only heard Abayei and Rava; Rashi and Tosfos; the Rif, the Rosh, and the Ran; the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch; the Rama, the Chelkas Mechokek and the Beis Shmuel. He was the Safra d’Dayna, the court 'scribe', but not the scribe of Itzik Cohen and his family.
The three dayanim tried to calm Itzik Cohen down, but he was impervious to their efforts. His outbursts continued, and it seemed as if he was about to tear the walls of the Beis Din down. His behavior confirmed his wife’s claims. "Calm down, Mr. Cohen, this is contempt of court…"
Immediately, the niggun subsided from the man who had been engrossed in his learning. As soon as he heard a word that had to do with the substance of the Din Torah [case], his pen was in hand and he quickly wrote down the Halachic [legal] arguments of the various sides. Here there is no quibbling, this is a debate amongst the poskim, Rishonim and Acharonim [early and later legal authorities], whose words are Torah-true. It doesn’t matter that these words are being recorded in the Tel-Aviv Rabbinical court.
The defendant opened his mouth, again, with words that were irrelevant to the case - just a way of "letting off steam." The scribe dropped his pen, and his eyes quickly returned to the Gemara. This continued back and forth for the length of the discussion.
This scribe was none other than Rebbe Yisrael Dan Taub Ztvk"l, [then] son of the Modzitzer Rebbe, Rebbe Shmuel Eliyahu [the "Imrei Aish"]. He would later succeed his father as the Modzitzer Rebbe, which he was for 22 years: eleven of them in Tel-Aviv [1984-1995] and the latter eleven in Bnei Brak [1995-2006].