Vayishlach: Choni HaMagel

I’m an amazing husband.  Truly inspirational and dedicated to my wife.

For her birthday, my wife wanted me to rent a car and let her practice driving, since she has not had the opportunity to do so since we got married.  Naturally, I approved such a gift, if only to see her happy, smiling face.

I’m a terrible husband.  Truly thinking only about myself and not others.

For her birthday was a few weeks before Purim and I still did not get her that car.

So, facing an imminent divorce, this Sunday I took off the morning, rented a car, and presented it as a gift for my wife.  Thankfully, she came up with a great idea.  She’ll drive us to Chatzor where the famed Choni HaMagel is buried, followed by Mincha in Meron.  What better way to use one’s morning!

So, we got in the car, which, to my shame, she named “Little Pony”, and off we went.  I was “Goose” to her “Maverick” (two points to you if you got the reference… make that ten).  As she was driving, I was reading a sefer that I have about all the burial places and ancient synagogues of northern Israel.  The first interesting thing I learned, is that there were TWO Chonis, one for each of the famous stories.  The first Choni was the one who slept seventy years.  His grandson, was the one who drew a circle in the ground and davened to Hashem that he will not leave the circle until it rained (p.s. it rained after we davened there... your welcome) (this is according to Seder HaDoros)

The first Choni’s story is in Tannis (19a):

Rebbe Yochanan said: "This righteous man [Honi] was troubled throughout the whole of his life concerning the meaning of the verse, 'A Song of Ascents: When the Lord brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like dreamers' (Psalms 126:1). [Honi asked] Is it possible for seventy years to be like a dream? How could anyone sleep for seventy years?"


One day Honi was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked, "How long does it take [for this tree] to bear fruit?" The man replied: "Seventy years." Honi then further asked him: "Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?" The man replied: "I found [already grown] carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted those for me so I too plant these for my children."


Honi sat down to have a meal and sleep overcame him. As he slept a rocky formation enclosed upon him which hid him from sight and he slept for seventy years. When he awoke he saw a man gathering the fruit of the carob tree and Honi asked him, "Are you the man who planted the tree?" The man replied: "I am his grandson." Thereupon Honi exclaimed: "It is clear that I have slept for seventy years."


What an amazing lesson to be learned.  Not from Choni, but from the old man.  Many times, we work on things (spiritually speaking) and we don’t feel that we’re moving forward, or we are, but not at the rate that we were hoping to be.  It’s easy and understandable to feel depressed from such feelings.  But it’s important to know that all of our attempts at growth are not for naught.  I heard recently, that The Steipler Gaon once said that in this world a person is called a Talmid Chacham based on how much he knows.  But in the next world a person will be called a Talmid Chacham based on how much effort he put into his learning.


So too, our efforts will not go to waste.  Perhaps our children will have certain spiritual merits because of us.  Perhaps they will learn and be inspired from simply seeing our attempts.  Perhaps others will learn from us.


And even with all these “perhaps,” we can rest assured that CERTAINLY, we will be rewarded for all the honest attempts, even if we never see the results.


Have a great Shabbos!