Bar Bei Rav D’Chad Yoma (literally, “a son of the Rav’s house for one day” in Aramaic) refers to an annual day of Torah learning, generally held during Asseret Yemei Teshuvah. The brainchild of the Kaliver Rebbe, Bar Bei Rav programs can be found across the country.
In fact, countless yeshivot and midrashot now organize their own Torah-oriented yemei iyun (daylong seminars/colloquia) this time of year, and one could easily spend all of Asseret Yemei Teshuvah going from yom iyun to yom iyun.
But nearly forty years ago, back when the Kaliver Rebbe originated the concept, inviting people to take a day off from work to learn Torah was considered to be an innovative and radical idea.
Together with ACAOSR (=a certain anonymous Our Shiputzim reader), YZG has been going to the same Bar Bei Rav since we made aliyah and eagerly looks forward to it from year to year.
ACAOSR, who first attended this Bar Bei Rav just a few years after it started, reports that one of the speakers (Rav Yaakov Galinsky shlit”a) once asked an intriguing question:
(I’m paraphrasing here. All errors and misrepresentations are my own.)
What’s the point of this gathering? Who are we trying to fool? We spend 364 days a year focused on the mundane aspects of life in this world, and we imagine that if we spend one day before Yom Kippur learning Torah, Hashem will somehow think that we’ve been doing so all year long?!
As an answer to this question, the speaker shared a beautiful mashal (parable), which can serve as a powerful reminder for all of us.
There was once a poor family who wanted to take a family portrait. Since they didn’t want to pose for the picture in their old rags but couldn’t afford to buy new clothes for the occasion, they borrowed what they needed from their neighbors.
Afterwards, they proudly hung the picture of themselves in their borrowed finery on the wall of their humble home and displayed it for all to see.
Now, obviously, no one would look at the picture and think that the family dressed like that every day. Clearly, it wasn’t an accurate representation of reality. So why did they go to all that trouble?
The reason is that the portrait showed what they wished they looked like and the way they dreamed of presenting themselves. In other words, the picture reflected what they considered to be the ideal – even though they understood that such an ideal is unobtainable and unrealistic and that they had no hope of ever achieving it.
The speaker then presented the nimshal (the moral of the story):
Similarly, when one takes a day off to learn Torah in the period leading up to Yom Kippur, one demonstrates that spending one’s every waking moment immersed in Torah is the ideal to which one aspires.
Of course, such an ideal is unobtainable and unrealistic in this world, where we must earn a living and deal with numerous everyday matters and concerns. But, nevertheless, during Asseret Yemei Teshuvah, we must stop and decide how we wish to present ourselves, as we stand before Hashem on יום הסליחה והכפרה (the Day of Forgiveness and Atonement).
May Hashem see us all in the ideal light in which we choose to present ourselves, and may all our prayers be accepted b’rachamim u’v’ratzon.
!גמר חתימה טובה
Have an easy and meaningful fast, and may we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good, sweet, happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year!