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Posted on January 25, 2023 (5783) By Rabbi Pinchas Winston | Series: | Level:

Friday Night

THE SITUATION IS becoming intolerable. When the Right loses the vote, they go back to the drawing table to figure out how to win it the next time. When the Left loses it, they declare war and work on taking through non-democratic means what they lost democratically. In a phrase, they are poor losers.

I agree. This is not yet the time to impose Torah values on non-Torah Jews. I might be shortsighted, but I think it is making very angry people even angrier. Anger with poor sportsmanship usually results in violence. Religious people, especially Charedim, should be cautious. When redemption comes around, we tend to pay for it…

The religious world has its zealots and people who are capable of performing violence against perceived enemies, even within the religious world. But on the whole, religious Jews believe in God, and Torah constricts their whims. They might be angry enough to hurt someone else, but something inside usually stops them. And at least when they stand up for something, it is usually in the Name of God and halachah.

We need both. Lots of people have done horrible things in the past in the “Name of God,” and still do. You need halachah to temper that. You need Torah to tell you Who God is and what He really wants, to prevent acting based upon your own personal interpretation of what He wants. Without halachah, people can convince themselves that they are serving God when they are really serving themselves.

The Jewish “Left” is just an up-to-date version of the Hellenists. We never did solve the problem of anti-Torah Jews back at the time of the miracle of Chanukah, and it has been with us ever since. There is no one harder to talk to about God and Torah than a Jew who has adopted the “Greek” way of life, whether by choice or inheritance. They identify with their yetzer hara, which has turned the world inside out for them, making left right, and good evil.

Last week’s Leftish revolt claimed that Judaism is Nazism, and that the Netanyahu government is the sixth reich. This is crazy, dangerously crazy.

The Left doesn’t profess to be doing the godly thing, because that is not their mandate. They argue that they are doing the human thing. But then again, so did Hitler, ysv”z. It’s the Erev Rav all over again.

Shabbos Day

THE EREV RAV. We were introduced to them in Parashas Shemos with the help of the Arizal (Sha’ar HaPesukim, Shemos). Why did Pharaoh have to deal “wisely” with the Jewish people if he planned to enslave them? He didn’t. That verse refers to the Erev Rav, would-be converts to the “Jewish people” whom Pharaoh had hoped to woo back to Egyptian society. The Jewish people he simply wanted to abuse and break.

The Erev Rav have had a very long history, going back to the 130 years of teshuvah that Adam HaRishon did for his sin (Eiruvin 18b). The Arizal, in Sha’ar HaPesukim (Shemos), details the journey of their souls through history until Egypt. It is remarkable. But even though it sounds as if they may have been sincere converts at the start, which is why Moshe Rabbeinu felt confident about taking them out with the Jewish people at the end of this week’s parsha, in the end they were not only a thorn in our sides but a dagger in our hearts.

We are here, still deep in exile, divided and more confused than ever, because of the Erev Rav. Even worse, the battle against the Erev Rav, even if they do not know who they are, will be our final and worst, as the Vilna Gaon warned:

The joining of Eisav and Yishmael is the result of Armelius, the ministering angel of the Erev Rav, who are able to destroy the Jewish people and the entire world, may God have mercy on us. The main drive of the Erev Rav is to unify Eisav and Yishmael and to separate the two moshiachs (Moshiach Ben Yosef and Moshiach Ben Dovid). Therefore, our main task and battle is to break and remove the strength of the Erev Rav, the klipah of Armelius the Evil, from the Jewish people. The Erev Rav is our greatest enemy, the one who separates the two moshiachs, and the klipah of the Erev Rav works only through deception and roundabout ways. Therefore, the war against the Erev Rav is the most difficult and bitterest of all. We must strengthen ourselves for this war, and anyone who does not participate in the battle against the Erev Rav becomes, de facto, a partner with the klipah of the Erev Rav, and is better off not having being born. (Kol HaTor, Ch. 2, Chelek 2, Os 2)

Two questions. How do you correctly identify the Erev Rav, and how do you battle against them?

Once upon a time, it was easy to know who was Erev Rav and who wasn’t. The Clouds of Glory did not encompass the Erev Rav in the desert as they did the Jewish people, and they did not enjoy the same miracles. But there are many Jewish “stragglers” who do not make it into the “Clouds of Glory” today. That however may be more because they lack enough Torah knowledge, and have been misled in their understanding of Judaism. Many a ba’al teshuvah can tell you how once this described them as well. So, accurately identifying a card-carrying member of the Erev Rav might not be possible anymore.

But in this case, “Know thine enemy” is more a matter of knowing what they want to do, and protecting against that. At the end of the day, and especially at the End of Days, enemies of the Jewish people only come to push the Jewish people to do what they should have chosen to do on their own. Unfortunately, left alone, the Jewish people tend to drift and lose focus. It is the Pharaohs and Erev Ravs of history that jolt us into action and push us to be redeemed.

Seudas Shlishis

IF ONLY MOSHE hadn’t taken the Erev Rav out of Egypt along with the Jewish people, we’d be sitting in Gan Aiden now. There would have been no golden calf, no episode of the spies, no thousands of years of exile and persecution. We would have gone to Har Sinai, received the Torah, traveled only 11 days to Eretz Yisroel and begun the Messianic Era immediately.

Theoretically yes, actually, no.

Even though God did not agree to taking the Erev Rav out in this week’s parsha, it was all part of the Divine plan. Even though the Erev Rav is called the greatest impediment to redemption:

The Erev Rav delay the redemption far more than all the nations of the world. (Zohar, Raya Mehemna)

they are also part of the redemption process. We don’t like it, and we certainly don’t yet understand why, but we also know, at least kabbalistically, that if something happens it was meant to happen ever since before Creation.

In the world of man, the Erev Rav represented a big step backward. In the world of God, there is only forward. We’ll have to wait and see how true that is. In the meantime, we can apply an idea that we already know to be true: adversity builds.

Life and history are about actualizing potential. Some of it happens automatically just by growing up. Some of it happens because we try to accomplish things. But a lot of it happens because things happen to us, much of which we did not plan and, on many occasions, would never have planned. Adversity falls into that category for most people.

But in dealing with our problems and challenges, we are often forced to call on resources we never knew we had, or barely tried to use. Necessity is the mother of invention, or sometimes, just the inspiration to realize hidden or unused potential. And when we’re done, either because we solved the crisis and even if we didn’t, we have gained access to a new part of ourselves and become more whole.

There are two things we do not like on principle: doubt and arguments. We love clarity in life, and it is much nicer and easier when it is two Jews and one opinion as opposed to two Jews and three opinions. But as Rav Hutner, zt”l, points out: look at all the wonderful Torah that has been revealed while dealing with doubt and arguing amongst ourselves in learning. It was always there in potential, but it might have only remained potential if we were not “forced” to find the “hidden” insights to answer difficult questions.

Unquestionably the Erev Rav has dragged down the Jewish people spiritually over history, and still does. Perhaps now more than ever. It might be hard to ID them with any certainty, but in dealing with the problems they have created, we have revealed previously unknown facets of Torah Judaism, and enhanced Torah life for those who have remained loyal. Yes, we’re obligated to “battle” them. But if we do it right and with the proper intention, they will eventually disappear while the Torah will become even more revealed in the world than it ever has been.

Ain Od Milvado, Part 36

IT IS HARD to believe that we have been doing this for nine months now, but the numbers do not lie. Hopefully it is getting through and the concept of God being all there is in life is sinking into our hearts. It is a life’s work.

The Gemora says that a person makes the brochah, HaTov uMeitiv, the One Who is good and does good, when good things happen, and Dayan HaEmes—Truthful Judge—after bad things. But, we are told, in Yemos HaMoshiach we will only make one brochah, HaTov uMeitiv, because then we’ll be able to see the good in what we previously perceived to be bad.

In the meantime, when we make the brochah, Dayan HaEmes, we are really saying, ain od Milvado. Saying Dayan HaEmes means that we believe that whatever “not good” happened to us, we accept and understand it was from God, and actually for our good. We’re not fooled by the human perpetrators or bad mazel, because we know that not even a blade of grass can grow unless an angel, an emissary of God, tells it to grow.

Bad stuff happens. The Gemora acknowledges this, and history proves it. Many of the Tannaim who authored most of the teachings in the Talmud experienced a lot of it first hand, including the great Rebi Akiva. Life in every generation allows what seems to be gross injustices, and according to the letter of the law, they are. If we can right them, we must. If we can’t, we have to work with them, around them, and sometimes through them.

But never can we let them distract us away from God. Never can we let adversity make us doubt God, or His good. Today we may blame God for our misfortunes, and ain od Milvado says that He is, ultimately, the One responsible for them. Later, however, when we get to see our lives in retrospect, we’ll thank God for every last challenge we faced, once we finally get to see what we gained because of them. Many things don’t add up in this world, but they do in the next world. S. And staying strong with God when He appears “weak” to us, makes life add up in the next world in more ways that we can imagine in this world.