ACCORDING TO THE Talmud, the Jewish people were first redeemed on the 15th of Nissan, and they will be redeemed a final time on the 15th of Nissan (Rosh Hashanah 10b).
Zoom class on Purim, b”H, Tuesday, March 22, 7:30 pm Israel time. Meeting ID: 836 1383 3117, Passcode: 327302, or see it on YouTube
Why does it make a difference as long as we’re redeemed? If the point is that just as God redeemed us from Egypt in the Spring when the weather is more merciful, then just say that. Why mention the exact date?
The answer is obvious. There is something special about the 15th of Nissan when it comes to redemption, other than the season. But even still, it seems as if different days of the year are also redemption days, such as the 15th of Adar. Why is the 15th of Nissan more relevant to the final redemption than that day?
This time the answer is in the name of the month itself. Even though the name of the month Nissan did not originate in the Torah but in Bavel, it was chosen as the name of the month because of its meaning, which is neis—miracle, the root of the word Nissan.
True, Adar is also a month of redemption, but as Purim emphasizes, less obviously miraculous redemptions. The story of Purim speaks about how God saved the Jewish people in a more hidden way. Pesach celebrates God’s OVERT intrusion into history on behalf of the Jewish people. So when the Talmud says that the final redemption will be more along the lines of Pesach than Purim, it means that it will be packed full of overt miracles.
The Talmud seems to say that the miracles of the final redemption will even best the miracles of the first redemption. The Midrash seems to say that the miracles will have to do that in order to impress the world into full belief in God and His providence.
After all, we are a world that has seen a lot. Between the imaginary stuff of movie producers and what technology has shown us in real life, we’ve kind of been around the “miracle” block. But as amazing as everything has been, is, and will be, we’re talking about God. Both Man and technology have big limitations. God has none. The issue will not be how big or clever a miracle God will make. The issue will be how much of a miracle people will be able to handle and not blow up from awe and amazement. Circuits get overloaded from a lot less.
THE KLI YAKAR in Vayishlach says that it will not be that the miracles will be more fantastic. The main thing will be that unlike leaving Egypt, we won’t have to leave quickly like fleeing gypsies. We will leave on our own terms, and at our own pace.
If so, maybe we have been undergoing Kibbutz Golios for over 200 years now. At the beginning, back in the time of the Vilna Gaon, there were only a handful of Jews living on the land. Today half the world’s Jewish population, if not more, live here in Israel, ingathered from different parts of the world. And even though many were forced to leave their original lands because of circumstance, they could have chosen to live elsewhere in the world and not in Israel, as many have over the centuries.
But they chose to come to Eretz Yisroel in the end, or even in the beginning. Maybe that’s called coming on our own terms too, because there is no question that Kibbutz Golios, the ingathering of the exiles has been happening for hundreds of years already. We just may not appreciate that it has.
We take too much for granted about history. I know I do. I assume too much about life and Jewish history in particular. I only know this because I have seen many sources over the years, especially more kabbalistic ones, about both life and Jewish history. They have opened my eyes and my mind, and in particular, my mind’s eye.
I have tried to share some of that in past essays, books, and on my web site. This has included concepts such kavshei d’Rachmana—Mysteries of God (Brochos 10a), alah b’machshavah lefanai—went up in My mind (Menachos 29b), mirmah utachbulos—scheming and trickery (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Ch. 32), and allilus—pretext (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayaishev 4). All of them say basically the same thing: As straightforward as Jewish history may appear, it is anything but. The sooner a person learns this, the safer they will be.
You wouldn’t go for a Sunday stroll through a dangerous neighborhood, and if for some reason you would, you certainly shouldn’t do it without being ready for the worst. If you have to run across a minefield to be safe, you have to do it carefully and while paying close attention to each step you take, so that it won’t be your last, God forbid.
I’m not saying life is a minefield, though at times it sure seems that way. Like now, for example, with the war between Russian and, really, the rest of the world. On the ground it is against Ukraine, but the rest of the world would like Russia to back down and let the Ukrainians be.
The trouble is that Putin’s not interested, and the world does not want to go to war. So Putin unabashedly moves forward with his conquest, the world only wags its finger in anger and disgust, and Ukrainians suffer and lose their lives and their country. Just another example of Russia bullying a less powerful country, a fearful world standing back and doing little about it, and history meandering back to a familiar but dangerous scenario.
Yes, all of this is true, but far from incidental. This war was meant to be since Creation. The people carrying it out were chosen for their roles long before they were ever born. The outcome, whatever it will end up being, will not be random but intended since the beginning by God. It will have been to accomplish a very specific purpose that was, is, meant to expedite the final redemption of the Jewish people.
It’s only the how that eludes us at this time.
BELIEVE IT OR not, this is a major part of the message of this week’s parsha. It starts off with the word tzav, and Rashi explains why:
The expression tzav always denotes urging [to promptly and meticulously fulfill a particular commandment] for the present and also for future generations. Rebi Shimon taught: The Torah especially needs to urge [people to fulfill commandments,] where monetary loss is involved. (Rashi, Vayikra 6:2)
Though true, it is not really understandable in this context. Everything to do with sacrifices has to do with a mitzvah. If it wasn’t commanded, it can’t be done. If it is done, the person is in BIG trouble. Just ask all those tzadukim who bought the right to be Kohen Gadol and died when they tried to freestyle a bit. A real kohen knew this and was very careful about it.
And if ever there was a section of the Jewish people who weren’t in it for the money, it was the kohanim. Their world was the Temple service, as intermediaries between God and the rest of the nation. We would expect them to do the best they could at what they had to do regardless of material recompense. So why the need for the word tzav here?
It’s not that the kohanim served with the idea of being rewarded. It’s just that they were. They had to be supported by the community so they could function on their behalf, and when that happens it is easy to become desensitized to Who is really behind everything we are and everything we get. It’s just human nature once the yetzer hara moved in full time. It is easy to forget that we serve God because that is what we do, and any benefit we receive is really a chesed, even tzedakah (Brochos 17a).
We may not seem to be reminded of it when we have everything we need or want, but it becomes clear that we do once we don’t. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Likewise, when serving God becomes difficult, that is when the committed wake up and realize that their service to God goes beyond any benefit that they might receive for it. All that matters is the will of God. Everything else is just distraction, including what nations decide to do against one another.
Book Excerpt: See Ya!
I GOT THE shock of my life the other day when I walked into my child’s Kindergarten class a little early and saw the teacher gagged, sitting down, and tied to a chair. All around her were the students, going about their business and oblivious to the bizarreness of the situation. Seemingly, they were now running the show.
So I asked my child, with a slight sense of alarm in my voice, “What’s going ON here?”
He answered me, rather calmly, “Well, we tried to explain to the teacher what WE thought was best for us, but she wouldn’t have any of it. She refused to even CONSIDER our suggestions, leaving us no option but to tie her to this chair and take control of the class.”
“Hmm,” I said, considering his words and their options. Then, after a moment, I told him, “Well, it makes good sense to me. I’ll just sit here quietly on the side and wait for the class to be over. Then we can go home together.”
My son smiled appreciatively, and returned to his friends. I looked over at the teacher who had this look of extreme concern on her face. She seemed to be trying to say something to me but, not understanding a word of it, I just smiled, sat down, and checked my phone for messages.
What’s wrong with this picture?
In a word, it’s ABSURD. It’s ABSURD that children of that age should even THINK like that, let alone successfully ACT on such ideas. It’s ABSURD that the father could see what was happening, and not stop it. It’s ABSURD that he should concur with the children, and ignore the pleas of the teacher to be restored to her rightful position. It might be an entertaining story, but it is clearly not a true one.
Unfortunately, the story IS partly true, but NOT entertaining in the least. It’s just that people don’t recognize the real story for what it is, because instead of kindergarten-age children, it involves adults, full-grown people, who have highjacked society and imposed their OWN version of order on it. And everyone else just goes about their business like nothing is wrong.
There’s a reason for this. It’s because in the real-life scenario, there seems to be no other choice. There doesn’t seem to be anyone smarter to do the job, or at least smarter AND willing to do the job, to take control and lead. It’s the Kindergarten situation, but without the teacher to direct the class.
The odd thing, and really the DANGEROUS thing, is that we deal with these people as if they ARE smart enough to properly execute their responsibilities. We respect them for wisdom they do not have, and hang on their every word as if they are all well-founded. We give them a benefit of doubt they rarely deserve.
By now it should be clear that we are talking about the politicians who run society. Not just the one’s we see or hear, but any of the people who have taken it upon themselves for whatever reason, noble or ignoble, to try and impact the direction of society. Pretty much all of them are in important places of responsibility, without the proper qualifications.
According to whom?
Good question. You can’t run for public office without meeting certain qualifications. You certainly cannot become leader of a country without meeting certain criteria. Even becoming the CEO of company requires specific adequacies and skill sets, without which a Board of Directors is likely to dismiss an applicant.
If the job description involves responsibility, we vet the candidates. The more responsibility there is, the more thoroughly they will be checked out. If they fit the bill, they can be in. If they don’t, they can’t even get started. So according to whom are our leaders today not QUALIFIED?
It depends who you ask. The Right rejects leaders from the Left, and the Left likewise rejects leaders from the Right. The current President is currently rejected and considered unqualified for his job by members of BOTH parties. It’s a political mess that has spilled over into the media and most sectors of public life.
But this is really nothing new. Really. The problem is as old as mankind. It has existed ever since man was ejected from Paradise, and the truth is, even while he was still there. It’s just that the world has grown a lot over the millennia, and with it, the problem as well.
Blame it on the Jews. Why not? The world always does at some point. This time, however, they would be right. This time the world would be right, because God took the Jewish people out of Egypt with spectacular miracles to give them His Torah. He gave them His Torah so that they would educate the world about right and wrong, human potential, and the purpose of life, etc.
I am God; I called you for righteousness and I will strengthen your hand; and I formed you, and I made you for a people’s covenant, for a LIGHT UNTO NATIONS. (Yeshayahu 42:6)
But sadly, the Jewish people have not done this, or at least not nearly as much as they were supposed to. So, even though the United Nations has engraved this verse on the side of their central headquarters, it was not to remind them or the Jewish people of their God-given destiny and responsibility. It is there to say that they believe that THEY are the light unto nations, NOT the Jewish people.
Wishful thinking. Current history certainly has not turned out that way. On the contrary, it has become a large collection of adult children who, lacking a wise “teacher” have taken control of the society of which they have become a part, and tried to shape it in their image. The result is the misguided world we have before us today.
Understandably, many are oblivious to the problem and, to the contrary, see only progress and positive development. They resent being told that society is falling apart and doomed to fail, especially when they are part of the problem, and not part of its solution. What can be expected of people who reject the very source of knowledge that teaches what society SHOULD be like?
See ya. What else is there to say? So many other societies in the past have gone in the same direction as the current one is going, and they felt the same about theirs as many feel about this one. Yet today they’re LONG gone. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it fell apart quite quickly once it rotted on the inside, and its citizens chose not to intervene in the process.
The world today is driving at breakneck speed towards a cliff it can’t yet see. In the meantime, the few people who stand at the cliff’s edge and see Society coming, are screaming out to stop while there is still time. But they fear all they’ll be able to say is “See ya,”as Society realizes too late that it has pushed past the point of no return.