Second Prize: Succos in Berlin!
The classic work on Jewish history, Seder HaDorot, by R' Yechiel Halperin, records the following observation in his entry for the year 5380 (1620):
The author of the commentary Sefer Meirat Eynayim (SMA) on the Shulchan Aruch explained why the Jewish community of Worms suffered far more persecution, pogroms and evil decrees than other congregations. That kehillah was founded by Jewish exiles who made their way to Germany following the Destruction of the First Temple. After seventy years of exile, many Jews returned from Babylon to Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem, but none returned from Worms. The community in Jerusalem wrote to the kehillah in Worms and urged them to join their new settlement in Jerusalem... but the complacent Jews of Worms dismissed this invitation out of hand. Instead, they responded, ‘You stay where you are in the great Jerusalem, and we will continue to stay where we are in our little Jerusalem!' This arrogant response was due to the prosperity and prestige the Jews of Worms enjoyed in the eyes of the local gentiles and their princes.
The success of Worms was its undoing! The prosperity of the Jew in exile is nothing more than a Divine test to see whether it will cause the Jew to forget his homeland and his heritage. Worms and the Rhineland failed and suffered bitterly. In our own times, the vast majority of the German kehillah failed, because, as Meshech Chochmah (Bechukotai) observes, ‘They began to call Berlin, Jerusalem!' (The Artscroll Kinos pp 272-273)
Grand Prize: Succos in Yerusalayim
Second Prize: Succos in Boro Park
Go ahead buy a ticket. It is for a good cause.
Anyway I remarked to my cousin, that still, this raffle makes me cringe every year. And he reassured me it wasn’t so bad – it’s wonderful to always view things from the bright side.
He said think of what they could have done. They could have made the raffle thus:
Grand Prize: Succos in Boro Park
And if Chas V’Shalom you are unable to make it to the holy city of Boro Park at least, at least, at least, you could settle for the next best thing:
Second Prize: Succos in Yerushalayim.
It’s not quite Boro Park but it will have to do.
You know what – it’s sad to say but my cousin is right.