Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke Halevi
Every Man In His Own Camp
The Good Name
A rich man stood on the night of Yom Kippur, following the prayer, to finish the psalms in the synagogue. Gaon Rabbi Yosef Dov of Brisk told him, “The sentence of soldier who deserts from the army to go to Eretz Israel is death. If he did not desert to go to Eretz Israel but to another legion of the king, such as being sent to the infantry but deserted to go to the riflemen, or vice versa, what is his sentence? Is it possible that because he serves his king he is not considered a deserter? Or if he did not serve in the same legion to which he was sent, is he considered a deserter?
The man stood in astonishment; what did the rabbi want?
The rabbi repeated, “But I have clear evidence that that soldier would be called a deserter, because everyone must serve the king in his legion. Everyone from Israel must therefore serve the King of the Universe the service imposed on him. The rich must give charity on Yom Kippur eve, and return to the poor who cannot pay their debts the mortgages he holds, and the poor who cannot give charity should do more repentance and prayer. Therefore, the poor should stand on the night of Yom Kippur at the synagogue to say the psalms and the rich who give great charity and mercy should go home and sleep. You, my friend, fled from your legion and came to worship your Creator the worship of the poor, which means that you have not done your duty and should be called a deserter, because every man must worship the Creator of his camp