Monday night I had the honor of hearing the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel, Rav Aharon Feldman speak in Chicago on behalf of Toldos Yeshurun. The Rosh Yeshiva said over the following ideas regarding Mesiras Nefesh (self sacrifice):
Mesiras Nefesh is the key to the Geulah. Shemos is full of Mesiras Nefesh. Being Mosair Nefesh means going against the grain of society. To be great you have to be Mosair Nefesh for Torah.
We build Torah institutions by being Mosair Nefesh. The Chofetz Chaim asked the question, “Why did we fast on Purim, but go to battle for Chanukah?”
His answer is that Purim was an attack on our physical beings, our Gatchmeus, so we had to counter it by fasting. Chanukah was an attack on Ruchnius, on Torah, so we had no choice but to go to battle. Mesiras Nefesh is the key to aquiring Torah. All Torah in America was built on Mesiras Nefesh.
When I was growing up in Baltimore, a very popular Conservative Rabbi said that in 40 years Orthodox Judaism won’t exist. Well, Orthodoxy is still alive and well.
We learned last week that you can only take Trumah from anyone who will donate money from their heart. For the Mishkan you can’t force someone to give, the Shechinah will only be in a place where B’nai Yisrael gives from their hearts.
The success of Jewish life is based on us going against the grain. We have to know that we can grow, elevate, and rise above all of our circumstances. The key is Mesiras Nefesh.