But why did you call me aside so secretively?

But why did you call me aside so secretively?

On Shabbos nights, the Yerushalmi Tzaddik, Harav Aryeh Levine would go to shul early and read the Shir Hashirim with great joy. One time, Harav Chaim Berlin, the oldest son of the Netziv of Volozhin,, who in his later years served as the Rav of Yerushalayim, sat beside Rav Aryeh and read Shir Hashirim together with him.

When they reached the verse, “Hinach yafa raayasi, eynayich yonim’ – “You are beautiful my wife, your eyes are like doves,” Harav Chaim Berlin began to shed tears. Harav Aryeh asked why he was crying, when the verses describes the love between the Kadosh Boruch Hu and Knesses Yisrael.

Harav Chaim Berlin replied with a story:

“When I was the Rav of Moscow, a wealthy and respectable man, who didn’t look like a Jew, approached me and asked if he could speak with me privately. We stepped aside, and he told me that his wife had given birth to a boy, and asked if I could be the mohel at the bris.

“Fine,” I said. “But why did you call me aside so secretively?”

“I am very wealthy and no one in my vicinity knows that I am a Jew,” he replied “Besides, I work for the government, and if anyone finds out that I am Jewish, I’ll lose my status and job. I want to make a bris for my son, but on the condition that it remains secret.”

“On the eighth day after the child’s birth, I came in secret to the Jew’ house, where he released all of the non-Jewish servants in his home from work. Only the two of us were present at that bris, where I served as mohel and the baby’s father as sandak.

“At the end of the bris, I asked the father to come to me on the third day after the bris and inform me how the baby felt.

“Three days afterward, the father came and placed a fee on my table, for my efforts. I told him that I don’t accept money for such a mitzvah, while he apparently thought that the sum was too small, and that I wasn’t satisfied with it. As a result, he placed more money on the table, but I didn’t take it.

“Seeing his great longing to fulfill the mitzvah, despite the great danger involved, and seeing that he was willing even to pay a large amount for it, I told him: “You make every effort to hide your Jewish roots and even your house contains no Jewish signs. What then is the meaning of your great messirus to fulfill the mitzvah of milah in such a manner?”

“Rebbe,” the Jew replied. “I know that I have strayed from Yiddishkeit and doubt if I will ever be able to return to my roots. My newborn child will surely know nothing about Judaism; I at least grew up among Jews during childhood. But I hope that if he discovers his origins, he won’t be prevented from learning about them and drawing closer to them.”

Harav Chaim finished “While you read the verse, “Hinach yaffah ra’ayasi, hinach yaffah einayich yonim,” I recalled that incident and understood that the verse repeats “hinach yaffa” twice,; because Chazal say on it: You are beautiful before the sin, and you are beautiful after the sin. What is the meaning of after the sin? “Einayich yofim” refers to that situation, meaning that she is like a dove, and stands inplace from where she will still be able to control the dovecote.

“When I read this verse, I can’t help recalling the stirring incident of messirus nefesh of a Jew who strayed so far off. And when the verse calls out with feeling, “hinach yaffah raayasi, hinach yaffah einayich yonim” how can I not cry?”