September 22, 2015
One of the most famous stories about the Netziv, is an important lesson for us on Yom Kippur.
The Netziv, or R. Naftali Zvi Yehudah of Berlin (1817-1893) became known as perhaps the most important rabbi of his generation in Lithuania. His scholarly output is phenomenal. He wrote Eimek HaNetziv, Ha’emeik She’eilah on the Sheiltos, Sheilos Uteshuvos Meishiv Davar, and Ha’emeik Davar.
The Netziv himself told the following story on the publication of his Ha’eimek She’eilah. When the Netziv was a young boy he wasn’t the greatest student. So his parents decided that at the age of 11 he was going to become an apprentice in order to learn how to be a shoemaker.
The Netziv overheard his parents talking and he heard them say that since he wasn’t destined to be a great scholar he might as well begin his apprenticeship as a shoemaker. That night the Netizv had a dream. In this dream he visited the Holy Throne of Hashem and when he arrived he was asked, “You made beautiful shoes. But where are your great works of scholarship? Where is the Ha’emeik She’eilah that you were really destined to create?”
The next day the Netziv begged his parents for one more chance to commit to his Torah studies. His parents relented and the Netziv ended up publishing some of the greatest works of scholarship in the history of our people.
This is not just a story of the Netziv. We are all asking Hashem to give us another year of life. But we have to ask ourselves ….what for? What are we going to do more and better in the coming year that God hopefully will grant us all.