Dreaming of Moshiach

Thursday, November 16, 2006

HaShem's Providence

Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradyon and his wife had two sons and two daughters, (zs'l). One son associated with robbers and was put to death and the other was a Torah scholar. His well known daughter was Beruria and his other daughter was condemned to spend her life in a brothel because of a sin she had committed in the area of tznius (modesty).

She was walking down the street and heard some Romans behind her say, "See how graceful are the footsteps of this maiden" and she became conscious of her graceful walk and paid attention to her steps--not that she changed her way of walking, but that she was now conscious of it and was presumably flattered by the attention.

The Romans brought R’ Chanina ben Teradyon to trial. They said to him "did you engage in Torah study which we have banned?" He answered them by reciting a posuk “As Hashem my G-d has commanded me” (Devarim 4:5). They immediately sentenced him to death by burning. They then also sentenced his wife to death for not preventing him for doing so.

The Gemara relates that when the three of them left the courthouse they accepted the righteousness of the Judgment upon themselves. They attributed their punishments to a subtle sin that they had committed. Rebbi Chanina said “the Rock – His work is perfect for all his ways are justice” (Devarim 32:4). His wife said the remainder of the posuk “A G-d of faithfulness and without iniquity, righteous and fair is He”. His daughter said, “Great in counsel and mighty in deed your eyes are open upon all the way of mankind to give each man according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds” (Jerimiah 32:19).

The awesome greatness of Rabbi Chanina Ben Tardyon, his wife and daughter lay not only in how they accepted their martyrdom and the harsh decree of Hashem but also in how they expressed their faith in Hashem at this moment. Their expression of faith and the manner in which they did so at such a time was a true expression of love for Hashem.

Rabbi Chanina was on the ten martyrs sentenced to death by the Romans. He was burnt, wrapped in the Torah scroll that he had been holding when he was arrested. Tufts of wool soaked in water were placed over his heart so that his death should be prolonged.

His daughter Beruriah cried out, "Father, that I should see you like this!" He answered, "Had I been burnt alone, it would have been difficult for me. Since I ambeing burnt with a Torah scroll with me, He who avenges the plight of the Torah scroll will avenge my plight."

His students said to him, "Rabbi, what do you see?" He responded "The parchments are burning, but the letters are soaring on high." He was told to open his mouth to allow the fire in to hasten his death, but he said, "It is better that He who gave [my life] should take it."

The executioner offered to remove the tufts of wool in exchange for a portion in the World to Come. R' Chanina agreed, and when he died, the executioner jumped into the flames, whereupon a heavenly voice proclaimed that the two were assigned to the World to Come.

Rabbi Meir “Ba’al Haness”, zs'l, (“the Master of the Miracle”) married Beruria, the daughter of Rabbi Chanina Ben Tardyon. When Beruriah asked her husband to save her sister, Rabbi Meir took a bag of gold coins and went to the brothel disguised as a Roman horseman. When he discovered that Beruriah's sister kept her chastity he offered the money as a bribe to the guard.

The guard replied, “When my supervisor comes, he will notice one missing and kill me.” R' Meir answered, “Take half the money for yourself, and use the other half to bribe the officials.” The guard continued, “And when there is no more money, and the supervisors come - then what will I do?” R' Meir answered, “Say, ‘The God of Meir - answer me!’ and you will be saved.”

The guard asked, “And how can I be guaranteed that this will save me?” R' Meir replied, “Look there at the vicious. I will go to them and you will see for yourself.”

R' Meir walked over the dogs and they ran over to him to tear him apart. He cried, “God of Meir - answer me!” and the dogs retreated. The guard was convinced and gave him the girl. When the group of supervisors came, the guard bribed them with the money.

Eventually, the money was used up, and it was publicized what had happened. They arrested the guard and sentenced him to death by hanging. They tied the rope around his neck and he said, “God of Meir - answer me!” The rope tore, much to everyone’s amazement. The guard was saved.

From then on, a tradition has remained that when a Jew finds himself, in any sort of crisis, he gives charity, and dedicates the charity in memory of R' Meir Baal Haness. He then says, “God of Meir - answer me! God of Meir - answer me! God of Meir - answer me!” and in that merit will hopefully have salvation from his crisis.

Several famous charitable foundations exist today which use his name and likeness. This stems from a segulah in which Rabbi Meir proclaimed that he would personally intercede in heaven on behalf of whomever would give charity to the poor of the land of Israel in his merit.

May the merit of The Tana Rabbi Chanina Ben Tradion and Rabbi Meir “Ba’al Haness”protect us all, Amen




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו