When the Wind Blows
by Mrs. Miriam Kahane
Mrs. Miriam Kahane hails originally from Memphis, Tennessee. She herself went to Michlalah for seminary and today she is a Mechanechet at Michlalah. Her special southern openness and appeal help to make her a popular teacher and confidante to her students. She lives in Yerushalayim with her husband and children.
In Tehillim (perek 92) we read: “tzaddik katamar yifrach k’erez balvanon yisgeh” – “A tzaddik will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar in Lebanon he will grow tall.” The Yalkut Shimoni explains that an erez, a cedar, has many roots and even if all the winds in the world would blow at it, it will not move from its place.
Imagine a wheat field. A wind blows. The stalks sway to the left. Another wind blows. The stalks sway to the right. Back and forth, back and forth, at the mercy of the wind. Now imagine a forest filled with cedar trees; big, strong cedar trees. A wind blows. The trees don’t move. Another wind blows. The trees don’t budge. Strong. Unwavering. Firmly rooted in their place.
This is a tzaddik. And this is why the tzaddik is compared to a cedar in Tehillim. A prerequisite for being a tzaddik is that you are strong like an erez, unmoving like an erez. A tzaddik stands strong even against the most powerful winds. A tzaddik knows what is true and right and he is not “swayed” from one side to the other.
This does not mean that we must become rigid, uncompromising people. A person can remain firmly rooted in her beliefs and principles and at the same time bend a little here, compromise a little there, but she is not being blown by the wind because she is bending as a result of her own conscious decision. Sometimes she compromises for the sake of shalom, sometimes for kibud av v’aim. Sometimes her da’as Torah told her to. But she is bending because she chooses to, not because of the power of the winds around her.
Some of you have returned from Seminary just a few short weeks ago. Some of you have been back from Seminary for years. You all have made commitments while in Eretz Yisrael. You all have grown in your ruchniyus, in your dikduk b’halachah, in your middos, tznius and tefillah. You must always keep your roots firmly planted in the Torah that you learned in Eretz Yisrael and when the winds get strong (and they will), be like an erez. Do not let the winds blow you from what you know is emess.