R’ Eytan Feiner: ‘DEAR FAMILY: It’s Time to Come Back to Shul – Time to Come Back Home’


[R’ Eytan Feiner sent out the following message to the community on Erev Shavuos]

The phone didn’t stop ringing. In the midst of performing CPR on the yeshiva bachur lying motionless on the floor alongside him, the middle-aged Hatzalah member couldn’t help but notice that the boy’s cellphone was ringing incessantly. Attached to the bachur’s belt, the phone kept lighting up and the caller’s name appeared repeatedly on the screen. One word. Over and over again.


Upon hearing the news of a devastating tragedy on Har Meron, the boy’s mother wanted nothing more but to know her son’s whereabouts and condition. Is my precious boy still alive?…

With his heart breaking and now more focused than ever, yearning to rescue the breathless boy and return him home to the embrace of his Yiddishe mama, the Hatzalah member’s concentrated efforts finally brought the youth back to life. His resuscitative attempts successful, he then turned to look at the young man’s phone. 49 consecutive calls from “IMMA.”

49 unanswered calls from a loving mother longing to hear the sweet voice of her son, to cradle him once again in her arms and never let go. A devoted Jewish mother pining to reunite with her son, to see him return home safely, and the gates of tears didn’t close…

A true story from a few short weeks ago. And here we are, explains Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein, now closing the 49 days of Sefiras HaOmer, a crucial time period wherein Avinu She’ba’Shamayim, our Father in Heaven, was calling out to us repeatedly, a heavenly voice longing to be heard. On our spiritual direct phone-line to Heaven, for 49 powerful days in a row, our eyes were attuned to the imaginary screen upon which popped the same word, the same caller, day after day: “ABBA.”

So here we are, standing on the threshold of Chag HaShavuos, Z’man Matan Toraseinu, and our Father in Heaven, Tatty in Himmel, is still calling out to us, pleading… “My dear, beloved children, please wake up from your slumber. Please spiritually resuscitate yourselves. And please, I beg of you, come back home where I yearn to greet you…” Our loving Father wants us to return to His Mikdash Mi’at, His ever-welcoming Beis HaK’nesses. He wishes for us all to return, once again, to the warm and inviting home where we truly belong.

All together. For there is nothing that brings a parent greater nachas than to see all of his children returning home as one loving and cohesive filial unit. And what an opportune time it is—right on the heels of parshas Bamidbar—for us all to make that return home, together as one, to Hashem’s Mikdash Mi’at.

Listen in for a moment to the following fascinating phenomenon: Included in the Encyclopedia Talmudis’s discussion of “haftorah,” is a listing (printed in the back of vol. 10) of all the various haftoros read throughout the year according to the diverse customs prevalent among the many sects within Judaism. A quick perusal yields the following conclusion: There are many weeks when Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Teimanim, etc., might cull from different sections of the Neviim, still others when the discrepancies manifest themselves in a more subtle fashion, in the form, quite often, of different starting and ending points. The common thread, however, is that the haftoros are never exactly the same. Jews the world over never manage to read the same haftorah on any given week.

Except once. There is but one week throughout the course of the year when all sects within Judaism unite to read an identical passage from start to finish. Lo and behold, that week happens to be the week of parshas Bamidbar as all of Klal Yisroel reads exactly the same haftorah extracted from Sefer Hoshea. An interesting phenomenon, yes, but a demonstration nonetheless of how all the various sects amalgamate to reenact—albeit on a far smaller plane—the “va’yichan sham Yisroel” required to approach a Matan Torah.[1] It thus comes as no surprise that, immediately after the haftorah’s opening pasuk regarding the “mispar B’nei Yisroel,” we then read: “The children of Yehuda and the children of Yisroel shall be assembled together, and they shall appoint for themselves a single leader…”

Big things are happening in the world around us. Times are changing rapidly, and the unexpected and unpredictable strikes on an almost daily basis. We certainly all feel that HaKB”H is sending us all recurring wake-up calls to prepare ourselves properly for the final Geulah. Yes, we do firmly believe and reaffirm it every day: Mashiach can come at any time, and we are feeling—perhaps more than ever—that his arrival is imminently approaching. The Beis HaMikdash will soon be rebuilt and Hashem Yisbarach will welcome us back into our real home, once and for all, where we all truly belong.

HIS HOME. The beautiful, fiery and majestic, Bayis Shlishi.

But I humbly ponder and fear: All those who yearn to return to His Mik’dishei Mi’at, to return home to their respective Shuls (as COVID vaccines are widely disseminated and the coronavirus gradually departs), will be warmly welcomed inside the third Beis Mikdash. All those post-vaccination healthy individuals, however, who wish to remain outside as corona wanes, and continue to daven alongside the squirrels and crickets in their “outdoor minyanim,” will indeed find plenty of room to daven, outside the Bayis Shlishi, in a nicely-enlarged Kotel plaza area. But will they be warmly welcomed inside Hashem’s ultimate home if they failed to show HaKB”H how much they truly wished to return inside now to His Mikdash Mi’at?

Certainly something to think about.

My dear family: Let’s all now come back home. Together as one. To ABBA. To the ever-welcoming embrace of our loving Avinu She’ba’Shamayim. Let’s get back to Shul, to davening and singing, learning and shteiging, in His home where He anxiously awaits our presence more than we can ever imagine.

See you all back at home this Shavuos. Plenty of sumptuous cheesecake and delectable blintzes likely await us. Imma might be a really great cook and gives the best of hugs.

But ABBA just wants to see all of us home, in HIS HOME, to savor our sweet collective voices, our “kol kol Yaakov,” calling out for His love in His welcoming Mikdash Mi’at once more…

With an abundance of love and admiration always,

Rabbi Eytan Feiner

[1] I came across this last insight in the sefer, Bein Haftorah L’Parsha (R’ Yehuda Sheviv), p. 136.

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