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Spiritual Tools: Divrei Emet: A Child’s Gratitude

The 10th of Adar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Alexander Moshe (ben Tzvi) Lapidus (1819-1906). A talmid of Rav Yisrael Salanter, he authored Divrei Emes. Engaged at 12, and married at 13 years, he traveled to Salant at the age of 14 to learn with Rav Tzvi Hirsh Braude, where Rav Yisrael Salanter was a maggid shiur teaching talmidim Seder Nezikin.


Beginning at the age of 17, he served as Rav in many towns. In 1866, he became

Rav of the city of Rassein, a position he held for forty years until his petirah. Shailos were sent to him from throughout the Jewish world.

At the time of his petirah it was reported that a collection of teshuvos was ready to be  printed, but for unknown reasons this did not materialize. In more recent times,

a number of his teshuvos was collected and published by Rav Pinchas Lipschutz (editor of Yated Ne’eman) in a sefer entitled Ikvei Brachah. His collected writings were published approximately 2006.

I tremble in fear as I consider what will happen to me on my day of judgment when certainly my sins will far outweigh any merit that I may have. Who will be there to protect me? Who will be there to advocate for me? Who will be there to save me from the harsh punishments of the world of compensation?

Behold I am terrified in the “fear of the nights,” from the fear of that most horrible night, Gehenna, that is compared to the darkest night.

We have learned how much better it is for a man to suffer as did Job rather than suffer for one moment in Gehenna.

So, I turn to you my precious children, for whose sake I gave everything I had, and toiled so that all would be good for you, and hired the greatest teachers, and how much I prevailed against all your challenges: I ask only one thing of you: do not be among those who are ungrateful. As King Solomon taught even if a person feeds you only beans and you have fed him fat foods you must still show appreciation to him.

How much more so, my precious children, show me some acknowledgment of gratitude. To walk in the ways of God. To fulfill their obligations. To take all the lessons I have taught them and use them in practical ways to live as good people and to strive to attach to God.

This is the most essential part of the commandment to honor a parent: to show gratitude by living a life which will be a source of pride to a father and a mother. In this you will be doing a true kindness for my soul even when it is no longer in this world.

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