|Photo Tim Wolverson|
by Rabbi David Pinto Shlita
One day the maggid of Radin, Rabbi Binyamin HaTzaddik, went to see the gadol of the generation, the Chafetz Chaim Zatzal.
The Chafetz Chaim said to him, “Alas, Rabbi Binyamin, what will happen? Such a long exile, such a dark night!”
Rabbi Binyamin responded with a vivid explanation:
“Rabbi, I will give you an analogy: During a rough winter, several ba’alei batim undertook a long journey from Petersburg to Odessa, which was to last several days. Since it was the middle of winter, the journey took place in a special sled that was harnessed to two strong and healthy horses. The travelers in the sled were well-prepared for the cold, and they wore heavy coats. The journey began at night, and they traveled for a long time. To occupy themselves, they recited a few psalms and talked among themselves, during which time several hours passed. At that point they took out some wine, and everyone drank to warm their bones. Then they slept. In the meantime, morning had come. However in the Russian winter, there were very few hours of daylight, and our travelers slept deeply for more than 12 hours. In fact when they awoke, they noticed that it was still dark out, and they again recited a few psalms, chatted among themselves for a few hours, and took out some more wine. Then then drank and slept once again for another day. This repeated itself, for whenever they awoke, it was dark.
“The travelers started complaining to the driver, ‘Hey, what’s going on here? The night can’t be so long!’ The driver replied, ‘What long night? Day has already come, several times in fact, but you were sleeping!’
“The lesson to draw from this,” said Rabbi Binyamin HaTzaddik to the Chafetz Chaim, “is the following: The prophet Isaiah said, ‘ “Watchman, what of the night?” The watchman said, “Morning has come, and also the night. If you will request, request. Return and come” ’ [Isaiah 21:11-12]. We ask the Holy One, blessed be He, Who is the Watchman of Israel: ‘What of the night?’ Why is this night – this exile – so long? The Watchman replies, ‘Morning has come.’ It was already morning – there was already an end to the exile, several ends to it – ‘but also night.’ You delayed the morning and night came again. Rabbi, what can we do? The only answer is to pray!”
This is how the verse ends: “If you will request” – this represents prayer, as Rashi explains: If you present your requests to hasten the end (“If you will request”), then you must do teshuvah (“Return and come”)!