Behold, you shall die with your fathers, and this people will rise up . . . (Devarim 31:16)
Yom Kippur is about teshuva, in a very detailed way. In the course of about 25 hours we will try to cover all of it, every possible sin we may have committed the previous year. If you’re not sure how we do that given the “short” list of confessions we repeat several times throughout the day, get a hold of one of the more detailed explanations. It will tell you which confession refers to which sins. It can be somewhat surprising.
One sin you won’t find on the list anywhere, however, is perhaps one of the most important of all. It is one of the main reasons why we are still in exile to this very day and suffering as a result. The later history gets, the more relevant it becomes.
It is the sin of the Spies.
“But,” you may interject, “that sin is over and has nothing to do with us. The Jews who perpetrated THAT sin,” you may argue, “paid dearly for it, as did their entire generation. There is no reason to add a confession to our existing list for that sin,” you may conclude.
Not so—according to the Arizal, based upon a verse from this week’s parsha:
Now you can understand the meaning of, “Behold, you shall die with your fathers, and this people will rise up” (Devarim 31:16), which is considered to be one of the verses that has no apparent explanation (Yoma 56a). (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Ch. 20)
The Talmud says this because the Hebrew word for “rise up” is written in the singular, implying that it is referring to Moshe Rabbeinu (the Hebrew verse can actually be read this way). It is, however, interpreted as referring to the Jewish people, as translated above because. After all, Moshe Rabbeinu was about to die. When was he supposed to rise up?
It can be explained with the words “rise up” referring to that which comes before and after them, and both explanations are true. (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Ch. 20)
In other words, the words “rise up” actually refer to both Moshe Rabbeinu AND the Jewish people. It is not uncommon for a singular verb to be used with a collective noun such as “people.” The only question, if Moshe Rabbeinu was about to die, when was he supposed to get up?
In the future Moshe himself will reincarnate and return in the final generation, as it says, “you will die with your fathers and rise up.” (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Ch. 20)
Though on a simple level the verse refers to the future rebelliousness of the Jewish people after Moshe’s death, Kabbalistically it refers to the future reincarnation of Moshe Rabbeinu. He was about to die, but he was also destined to reincarnate in the “final generation.”
And not only Moshe Rabbeinu, it turns out, but the Jewish people from his generation as well:
In the final generation, the Generation of the Desert will also reincarnate with the Mixed Multitude, and this is what the verse also says, “this people will rise up.” (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Ch. 20)
Thus, according to the Arizal the souls of the Jewish people at the end of history will include those of the Jewish people from the beginning of Jewish history. Why, if not to make amends for what was left unrectified in their own time? They may have paid for their sin, but they never really rectified it, evident by the fact we are still hounded by exile.
This would make the Final Redemption really the completion of the first one. Hence, one of the names for the end of the final exile is “Keitz HaYomim.” It may be translated as the “End-of-Days,” but it means, “end of THE days.”
As it is known, the Jewish people left Egypt 190 years earlier than the 400 years foretold to Avraham Avinu in the prophecy of the Bris Ben HaBesarim. The assumption might have been that the Egyptian exile came to an end once the Jewish people went out. However, the gematria of the word “keitz” says otherwise. It is 190 to teach that the missing years had not been forgiven, just divided up over the course of history until the arrival of Moshiach.
Therefore, when the Haggadah says, “Every Jew is obligated to see himself as if he too left Egypt,” it isn’t metaphorical. Every Jew is leaving Egypt in every generation because “Yetzias Mitzrayim” is a work in progress, and every Jew in every generation is part of it.
This may be why Techiyas HaMeisim, the Resurrection of the Dead, will be a period of 210 years, according to Rebi Yehudah, that follows 40 years of Kibbutz Golios (see last week). Jewish history began with 210 years in Egypt and was followed by 40 years of wandering in the desert. Redemption will be 40 years of ingathering followed by 210 years of perfect history.
There is more. It says in the Talmud:
Rebi Simai said, “It says, ‘I will take you to Me as a people’ (Shemos 6:7), and it says, ‘And I will bring you to the land’ (Ibid. 8). Just as the coming to the Land [of Israel] was with two of the 60 myriads, so too was the leaving of Egypt with two of the 60 myriads.” (Sanhedrin 111a)
One myriad is equal to 10,000 people. Sixty myriads, therefore, equals 600,000 people, the number of root souls from which all Jewish souls come (Sha’ar HaGilgulim). Therefore, this number was constantly used in the Torah—in reference to males between the ages of 20 and 60 years—when counting the Jewish people in the desert, even though there were millions of Jews at the time of each counting.
The Talmud is saying that of the 600,000, males between the ages of 20 and 60, who were alive in the desert and who could have entered the Land of Egypt, only two did: Yehoshua bin Nun and Caleiv ben Yefuneh. The rest died off over the course of the 40 years in the desert after the sin of the Spies.
Likewise, the Talmud says, of the 600,000 males between the ages of 20 and 60 who could have left Egypt with Moshe Rabbeinu, only two actually did. The rest, as Rashi explains, died in the Plague of Darkness as part of the 12,000,000 Jews who died at that time. With respect to this point, the Talmud makes an ominous prediction about the final generation:
Rava said, “It will be likewise in Yemos HaMoshiach, as it says, ‘She will dwell there as in the days of her youth, and as on the day of her ascent from Egypt’ (Hoshea 2:17).” (Sanhedrin 111a)
According to the Talmud, the leaving of the final exile, of which the Jewish people have been a part now for over 2,000 years, will mirror the leaving of the first exile from Egypt. Kabbalah concurs:
The Generation of the Desert along with the Erev Rav reincarnate in the final generation, “like in the days of leaving Egypt” (Michah 7:15). (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Ch. 20)
Why did 12,000,000 Jews die in the Plague of Darkness? They did not want to leave Egypt. The promise of the land of their forefathers did not appeal enough to them to compel them to leave the exile of their forefathers. They rejected redemption, and were consumed by exile instead.
Why did the myriads of Jews die in the desert? They did not want to leave the desert. The promise of their own land did not compel them enough to leave one they did not own. They too embraced exile and were consumed by it.
That was them. We are a different generation now.
Yes and no, the Arizal revealed. Physically we are a new generation, but spiritually our souls can be those of the generation of Jews who rejected Eretz Yisroel. They, we, may have returned to rectify this, and had we done so by now we’d all be back in Eretz Yisroel and Moshiach would have already put Creation back on track.
Thus, before a person rationalizes his or her lack of desire to live in Eretz Yisroel at this very late time in history, they should ask themselves, “What is the basis of my lack of interest to return to the land of my forefathers? Is it based upon what God wants, or the result of a soul that still can’t get it right after all this time. The fact that we have a second chance to rectify this ancient sin is remarkable. We won’t get a third one.
It is something to think about everyday, but especially this Yom Kippur as we work our way through each Viduy—Confessional Prayer.