G-d told Moses, "Take revenge on behalf of Israel against the
Midianites, after which you will be gathered to your people." (Bamidbar
Ah, the good old days, when G-d personally sent us on our missions. How
nice it was to be assured by the Creator of the world Himself that the war
we were about to fight would end in our favor. The self-confidence in our
ability, with the help of G-d, to be successful must have been
Without a doubt one of the most disastrous events in Jewish history over
the last 500 years was the Shabbtai Tzvi debacle in 1648. A self-
proclaimed messiah who later converted to Islam at the threat of death by
the Sultan, he dashed the hopes of millions of Jews who really thought the
end of Jewish suffering and oppression had come. So depressed did Eastern
European Jewry become that the door on messianic optimism was shut tight
until this very day . . .
"You remember the last time people thought Moshiach was coming . . . what
happened in the end?"
Therefore, there are many Jews today who are unwilling to read anything
messianic into the different events. In spite of the fact that we are
supposed to anticipate Moshiach's arrival everyday, anticipate the Final
Redemption at all times, and have total trust in G-d regarding the outcome
of seemingly negative events, Jews would still like to be super-cautious
and not anticipate much more than what actually seems to be happening in
And when well-known rabbis speak out and put themselves out on a religious
limb by doing such reading, others see it as irresponsible. There is
always the "What if?" syndrome. What if events do not pan out as they say?
What if disengagement actually does go through, G-d forbid? What if the
upcoming events do not trigger the end of history? What if, in spite of
all the amazing signs that we are about to cross the threshold into
another more favorable period of history, albeit after a brief rough one,
What if terrible only gets worse?
Think of the dashed hopes, once again. Think of the depression that will
set in for those who dared to believe and were let down, again. It'll be
Shabbtai Tzvi all over again, G-d forbid. So, isn't it better for us to
just sit back and let events go the way Heaven has in mind? Won't it then
be easier to live with the disappointment if the favorable ending many of
us dream of does not materialize?
First of all, let's get one thing straight. The most important detail to
go wrong in the Shabbtai Tzvi debacle was that he claimed to be the
Moshiach. And, not only did he claim to be Moshiach, but he began acting
in ways that misled others into believing that Yemos HaMoshiach was well
underway, as if the Final Redemption had become a de facto reality. He
even began to permit that which previously had been forbidden. The
threshold he stepped over was not his to cross.
There are other major differences as well. For example, Shabbtai Tzvi came
at a time that the Jews were living in Europe, and the idea of returning
to Eretz Yisroel could only be a pipe dream at best. It was still the
seventeenth century; we hadn't even come close to the "Tenth Hour" of
history (which began in 1990), and the Jewish people had yet to reach the
four corners of the earth, as they have since World War II.
Moshe told the people, "Don't be afraid! Stand still and see the
deliverance of G-d, which He will show you today. The Egyptians that you
see today, you will never see again, forever! G-d will fight for you, and
you will say nothing." (Shemos 14:13-14)
Herein rests the real impact of exile: the suppression of Jewish
willingness to believe that redemption can be just around the corner. It
is the abandonment of the belief that G-d is willing to bring the Final
Redemption at any time, not just as some distant time in the future,
in "someone else's" generation. Exile has instilled a fear within the
Jewish heart to think positively about these situations to spare us from
some future disappointment, and it has trained us to believe more in the
corruption of men than in the goodness of G-d.
But let's say the rabbi is wrong. Let's say the results turn out not as he
predicted, and bad goes to worse. Then he would have been wrong all along.
Shouldn't he have been more cautious and less optimistic in his analysis
of the events at hand? To have so many people believe in his opinion, and
follow him, only to have their hopes dashed and to become depressed when
his vision of the future becomes a nightmare of the present.
No, quite the contrary. Judaism has never been about results, but about an
attitude towards Hashgochah Pratis (Avodah Zarah 3a). Cosmic events are
exactly that - cosmic. They take into account a lot more history than the
slice of life we are presently experiencing, and the results can be very
different than what we think they ought to be from our limited
perspective. This is clear from the story of Iyov.
However, if you could hear them talking in Heaven about positive thinkers,
you'd probably hear: "Look how badly they want redemption! Look how
willing they are to believe it is coming! Look how much My children trust
I will save the day! Look how much faith they have in My Providence in
spite of how the situation looks to them! I am so very proud of My
children," G-d says.
"I will greatly reward them," G-d says.
First and foremost, when we get to the World-to-Come, on the Day of
Judgment, one of the six questions we will be asked is, did we anticipate
the redemption? (Shabbos 31a).
Perhaps during a person's lifetime, just maybe he'll have success beyond
what could have naturally been expected.
So many times this was the test, disastrous situations and positive
results, as it was in Egypt, or by the Red Sea, or as in the time of
Purim, or in the time of Chanukah. A can do, must do, do-or-die attitude,
and the willingness to trust in G-d, in spite of the great odds to the
contrary, everything can and will turn out right. And, they did in the end.
But what if they don't?
G-d forbid. But even if they don't, I will still admire those who were
willing to put their credibility on the line and dared to believe in G-d
until the end; he who dared to read into the events of today their
messianic potential, and tried desperately to harvest it. I will, of
course, like everyone else, have to pick myself up once again and
say, "Again, another opportunity for Moshiach to come, and yet, (to my
knowledge,) he did not materialize. Oh well, back the grind. Onward and
upward with the hope that the next opportunity will in fact produce the
desired result. But at least, for the time being, I merited to feel that
potential, thanks to those who got me focused on it. Happy are they! Great
is their portion!"
Moshe answered the descendants of Gad and Reuven, "Should your brothers
go to war while you live in peace here? Why would you discourage the
Israelite nation from crossing into the land which G-d has given to them?
That's exactly what your ancestors did when I sent them from Kadesh-Barnea
to scout the land . . ." (Bamidbar 32:6-8)
It was 39 years since the spies first went out and came back 40 days later
with their evil report on the land. However, this time it was not a story
of spies or loshon hara about Eretz Yisroel. It was about wanting to stay
in Chutz L'Aretz for material reasons after G-d had given Eretz Yisroel to
the Jewish people, and yet a connection to the spies was made.
Last week plane loads of Jews came on aliyah from the United States of
America and Canada. My wife and daughter were part of the very large
greeting party, and they reported how incredibly moving and uplifting the
entire ceremony was. It was hard for them to accept Prime Minister Sharon
as one of the politicians there to welcome the new olim, especially since
he had ordered the closure of Gush Katif that very day. The irony seemed
to be too much.
On the other hand, maybe the irony was perfect as well as the timing. For,
each oleh that arrived that day, previous to that day and those who are
slated to come in the future, G-d willing, is another nail in the Sitra
Achra's coffin. Nothing pushes the S"A to his end faster than Kibbutz
Golios (the Ingathering of the Exiles), and with each additional segment
of Kibbutz Golios the Sitra Achra shoots back. That day it was the closure
of all roads leading to Gush Katif.
One of the most uplifting aspects of aliyah these days is that it is, for
the most part, ideological. It is not that these olim have fallen on hard
times and are looking for more opportunity in Eretz Yisroel. Rather, as
many have told me personally, it is that they feel the end of history is
at hand, and that they want to be in Eretz Yisroel when it happens. They
are willing, in the words of the Melitzer Rebbe, to descend ten levels of
gashmius (materialism) to ascend 100 levels of ruchnios (spirituality).
How that affects the hearts of those already living here is immeasurable.
We are quite happy here and do not require any type of justification or
emotional support to ratify our decisions to remain in Eretz Yisroel.
Nevertheless, seeing the willingness of our Jewish brothers and sisters to
forsake some materialism for life in the Holy Land at this late stage of
history, at a time when making aliyah seems a little crazy given the
politics and security situation here certainly reveals the hand of G-d.
After thousands of years of exile Kibbutz Golios is truly and finally
taking place right before our very eyes, though with less fanfare than
many might have expected. Perhaps this is to keep the Sitra Achra somewhat
at bay, and perhaps it is to maintain the free-will of those who still
remain in Chutz L'Aretz. (Just imagine the race for plane tickets once it
is confirmed that Kibbutz Golios is really in full swing!)
Whatever the reason, the first and most important phase of Kibbutz Golios
may be coming to a close. Why do I say that? Because it is becoming
increasingly more difficult to make aliyah each passing week. Rapidly
rising oil prices will definitely seriously curtail the freedom of
transportation. I was recently told that in North America there is now a
nine month backlog of orders for appliances that work in Israel, which may
have an impact on some people's decision to make aliyah at this time.
Additionally, no one knows yet how disengagement will affect the entire
direction of this country, and therefore that will also have some
influence on the desire of foreigners to even bother with the idea of
However, to the extent that our brothers in Chutz L'Aretz remain
comfortably at home in the Diaspora and show little if any desire to cross
their own personal Jordan river into the land promised to their ancestors,
it has an impact on the resolve of those of us living here, perpetuating
the mistake of the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and Menashe. To the extent that
they exhibit a desire to live in Eretz Yisroel, is the extent that they
share a role in the tikun of what went wrong in this week's parshah to
push off the Final Redemption for thousands of years.
Then the redeemed of G-d will return and come to Tzion with glad song
. . . (Yeshayahu 35:10)
"I asked Rabbeinu what to do if it would be physically possible to bring
all the Jews to Eretz Yisroel at one time. So many questions and
difficulties would arise regarding the arrangement of the settlement.
After much thought, Rabbeinu answered, 'If it becomes possible to bring
600,000 to Eretz Yisroel at one time, it should be done immediately
because there is a great and total power in the number 600,000, and that
could defeat Samae"l in the gates of Jerusalem. Then the complete
redemption would come miraculously, aided by clouds of Heaven, as it
says, "Then the redeemed of G-d will return and come to Tzion with glad
song . . ." (Yeshayahu 35:10).' According to Chazal, as well as Rabbeinu,
this verse refers to the period of Moshiach Ben Yosef (Shabbos 88a); the
posuk includes the letters of the number 600,000." (Kol HaTor, Ch. 1:15)
It has been pointed out by many commentaries that the number of Jews
between the ages of 20 and 60 throughout the 40 years in the desert, in
spite of the terrible calamities, always hovered around the 600,000 mark.
As to why that was the case is explained by the Zohar, and is the basis
for the above statement.
It is the six sefiros of Chesed, Gevurah, Tifferes, Netzach, Hod, and
Yesod, that were the cosmic DNA for the Six Days of Creation, dictating
the potential for each day. In turn, these six days became the root for
the six millennia that have followed, as the Vilna Gaon explains:
Each day of Creation alludes to a thousand years of our existence, and
every little detail that occurred on these days will have its
corresponding event happen at the proportionate time during its
millennium. (Safra D'Tzniusa, Ch. 5)
Thus, multiples of six: 6, 6000, 600,000, 6,000,000 - historically, are
very holy and always represent some tikun for what is wrong in Creation in
order to further the goals of Ma'aseh Bereishis. It is a powerful number
that neutralizes the Sitra Achra, specifically 600,000 and which paves the
way for geulah.
Thus, it is no coincidence that it was only after the unimaginable loss of
6,000,000 European Jews that the Jewish people were given back Eretz
Yisroel, at least a portion of it. Or, that after the Six-Day War we
recaptured Jerusalem. And, just look at what the tribes who chose to live
in Jordan denied the Jewish people and history by making the number of
olim in Moshe Rabbeinu's time less than the requisite 600,000 to bring
Coincidentally, it was just reported:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel will by next year become home to the largest
Jewish community in the world for the first time, surpassing the Jewish
population in the United States, a think tank said on Tuesday. Not for
nearly 2,000 years has the Holy Land been home to the globe's biggest
Jewish community. The report from the Jewish People Policy Planning
Institute said the Jewish population of Israel was about 5.24 million and
of the United States some 5.28 million, but the balance was shifting
Significant, is it not, that the transfer of rule is based upon a number
that hovers around the 6,000,000 mark?
Something to think about as the clock ticks down on Year 5766, the last
two numbers of which the Zohar chooses to see as 60 and 6.