The Chashmonaim are known to be one of the more illustrious families in our storied history. If not for them, Torah and mitzvos could have been completely lost from klal Yisroel. The Yivanim issued numerous callous decrees that many people feared and as a result many yidden unfortunately assimilated. The Chashmonaim stood up and went to war to save our heritage. An open miracle occurred and they were victorious. Through that, kavod was restored into a now functioning and rededicated Beis Hamikdash.
One would rightfully think that this family was deserving of tremendous honor and accolades. Yet, we find that the gemara says (Bava Basra 3b) ‘anyone who says that they are a descendant of Chashmonaim are lying and they are really a slave with no lineage.’ The gemara goes on to tell us how the last remaining descendant killed herself and as she did so she proclaimed that she was the last standing descendant.
This seems to be a very harsh ending to a family that appeared to be celebrated and recognized forever and ever. What seems to be a reasonable explanation here?
Ramban in parshas Vayechi says by ‘lo yasur shevet m’yehuda’-that all royalty would be from descendants of shevet Yehuda; it was with this mistake that they had miscalculated. After they had won the war and restored the land to its previous state, they took over the kingdom and ruled as kings. Says Ramban this was a terrible mistake as they had violated the commandment of Yaakov avinu that kings have to be descendants of shevet Yehuda. Therefore, their punishment was that there would be no one left to continue their lineage. However, on the surface it still seems a bit harsh. What’s pshat that they were punished so severely?
We can answer by saying that everyone has a mission on this world that they need to accomplish. A person’s right to exist is based upon their desire and ability to fulfill their tafkid on this earth. The moment you choose to ignore that and seek other important roles, roles that they don’t belong to you and positions intended for others, you have ultimately demonstrated a lack of appreciation for your own role. Had a person embraced their role they wouldn’t feel the need to be searching for other jobs. It is a zechus to be in this world and to fulfill your tafkid; once you seek other roles you lose your right to exist.
Yerushalmi tell us that Rav Tarfan was extremely ill and was on his death bed when his mother approached the elders in the Beis Medrash and pleaded them to daven on her son’s behalf. She asked them ‘are you aware who he is and of his level of kibud av v’aim?’ She began to relay a story how they were once walking in hot sand and her sandal ripped. Rav Tarfan cupped his hands together to allow his mother to use him as a support when she walked, so she wouldn’t burn her feet. The elders responded that he hadn’t even fulfilled half of his obligation of kibud av v’aim yet!
Is this how one would respond a broken hearted lady who was pleading for mercy for her son’s life?
Says the Chofetz Chaim that this was an area that he was meant to excel in and the Chachamim understood that. They believed that he hadn’t even fulfilled half of his obligation and therefore the Ribono Shel Olam would continue to give him life in order that he can fulfill his tafkid to the fullest. Had he already met his quota he wouldn’t have had the right to live anymore.
Every person has to know what their role is and be focused on that specific role. You can’t try to accomplish those things that you weren’t meant for you to accomplish.
Years ago there was a very wealthy man who decided that on Purim night he was going to close his doors and stay up all night and learn with his chavrusa. When his Rosh Hayeshiva found out he was furious. He said to him that he was created to have his door open all night to enable others to benefit from his affluence; his job was to write out checks. Learning would’ve been a beautiful thing but that wasn’t what he was meant to that night. Every person has to know their tafkid; nobody wants to do what someone else should be doing. It’s up to us, as individuals, to excel in the area that we were meant to succeed in.
HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS & A FREILICHEN CHANUKAH!