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14 Tishrei 5765 - September 22, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
Who Will Bring Us Tidings of Our Redemption and How Will We Know That It Has Truly Arrived?

Prepared from divrei Torah of HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, by Rav Avrohom Tzvi Yisraelsohn

The mishnah in Yoma (3:1) tells us that every morning the deputy Cohen used to tell the cohanim to climb to a high vantage point and look at the sky to see whether the time had arrived for the shechitah of the daily morning tomid. When a Cohen declared that it the time had come because it was light, he would ask him whether the entire eastern sky had become light, until Chevron. The mishnah explains that this question was necessary because once, the moon's light before morning had been very bright, and they mistakenly thought the sky had become light. They then slaughtered the tomid while it was still night, rendering it invalid and ended up having to incinerate it. The reason for including Chevron in the question was in order to mention the merit of the Ovos, who are buried there.

This halochoh sheds light upon Klal Yisroel's situation prior to the final Redemption. Even just before the dawn of Redemption, the blackness of exile will still engulf the world. Though everyone is longing for redemption and eagerly looking for signs of its arrival, darkness obscures everything. In such a situation, any glimmer, even imaginary, can mislead people into thinking that the Redemption has arrived. If these individuals act in haste they could invalidate the tomid, the nation's offering.

Chazal advise us to relate to all possible signs of redemption with caution. The way they tell us we can be sure that the sky has truly become light is if there is still a connection with the Ovos who are at rest in Chevron, i.e. if things develop without any innovations and we continue to hold onto the old practices of ancient generations. When we see the Redemption developing without change or innovation, we will know that the light in Tziyon is genuine. If however, the shining light is something new, it is invalid.

This idea is mentioned in the tefillos that are said on Hoshanoh Rabboh: "A voice [saying], `Rejoice rose of the Sharon, for the sleepers of Chevron have risen, [a voice] bringing tidings and saying . . .' "

When Avrohom Ovinu asked Hashem, "How will I know?" (Bereishis 15:8) referring to the future Redemption, he already knew that his descendants would have to undergo tremendous suffering before being redeemed. He cried out to Hashem, "How will I know that they will have the patience to wait for the real dawn and won't go astray after false, imaginary lights?"

Hakodosh Boruch Hu showed him that this would be in the merit of the sacrifices in the Beis Hamikdosh -- and in its absence, in the merit of studying the Torah of the sacrifices. This is our protection, ensuring that we wait for the genuine dawn and do not stray after various false messiahs.

Simchas Beis Hashoevah for Our Times

The gemora (Succah 51) tells us, "Whoever missed seeing the Simchas Beis Hashoevah never saw joy in his life."

The medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 70:8), affords us some insight into the importance of the Simchas Beis Hashoevah.

"He saw and lo, a well [was] in the field and lo, over there were three flocks of sheep sitting by it, for the flocks used to drink from that well and there was a large stone over the mouth of the well" (Bereishis 29:2).

"And lo, a well [was] in the field" -- this refers to Yerushalayim.

"And lo, over there were three flocks of sheep" -- these are the three Regolim.

"For the flocks used to drink from that well" -- ruach hakodesh is drawn on those occasions.

"And there was a large stone" -- this was the Simchas Beis Hashoevah. Rav Hoshaya said, "Why was it called Beis Hashoevah? Because ruach hakodesh was drawn from there.

"And they used to return the stone" -- In place until the following Regel.

Another explanation: "And lo, a well [was] in the field" -- this refers to the beis haknesses.

"For the flocks used to drink from that well" -- for Torah is heard from there.

These two interpretations refer to two different periods in our nation's history.

The world has a number of health spas where people go for the healing effects of the waters, which have powerful medicinal properties. The beneficial effects of a visit to one of these places are usually felt for an entire year. Sometimes, a single visit gives relief for many years.

It is the same in the spiritual realm. There are certain designated holy places with spiritually healing effects which are also powerful and long-lasting. The Beis Hamikdosh was such a place. People drew ruach hakodesh there that lasted them for a whole year. They visited three times a year, for the Regolim, and the healing influence of the Beis Hamikdosh infused holiness into all the mundane activities in which they engaged year round. On Succos, when they rejoiced over the water libations, they absorbed ruach hakodesh in the Beis Hamikdosh.

In Megilloh (29) the gemora says, "Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said, `Come and see that wherever Yisroel were exiled the Shechinoh was with them . . .' Where was it in Bovel? Abaye said, `In the beis haknesses of Hutzal etc.' The beis haknesses fills the place of the Beis Hamikdosh and has the same purpose. In the case of the Beis Hamikdosh, however, three visits a year sufficed. People witnessed the ten miracles that continuously took place there and the Shechinoh that was present.

At present, in exile, we do not witness these miracles and the impression that the beis haknesses makes is much weaker. We need to experience its healing properties regularly, every day. Only then will it have an effect on our souls.

Everyone ought to be aware that a beis haknesses is like a natural wellspring that provides a person with the water he needs in order to live. Without this water, a person's situation is dangerous. If people were sufficiently aware that " `Water' means Torah alone" (Bava Kama 17) and that they cannot survive without it, the beis haknesses would have the desired effect upon them. They would utilize it to draw holiness into their mundane lives.

Upon Completing the Torah: Protecting Torah in the Way It was Given -- Through Breaking the Luchos

"And for all [that he did with] his strong hand . . .which Moshe did before all of Yisroel" (Devorim 34:12)

Rashi explains: " `Before all of Yisroel' -- this refers to the breaking of the Luchos in front of them, which Hashem sanctioned as it says, `Asher shibarto (which you broke)' (Shemos 34:1) -- yeyasher kochacho sheshibarto."

Why is the breaking of the Luchos referred to by the posuk as "all [that he did with] his strong hand"? Moshe broke the Luchos because they were very heavy as a result of the sin of the eigel so it does not seem to reflect his strength.

Another problem is, what great benefit resulted from the Luchos' being broken, to the point where Hashem congratulated Moshe for having broken them?

The gemora in Sanhedrin (63) says that Yisroel never denied Hashem's existence. They knew that He controls the world. All they did was put Him in partnership with the eigel.

Moshe thought he had an opportunity to get them back onto the right path. He came down Har Sinai holding onto the Luchos in order to show them to bnei Yisroel. He thought that when they saw these pieces of Hashem's handiwork, that could be read from both sides and that had the centers of the letters final mem and samech suspended miraculously, they would abandon their golden gods and return wholeheartedly to Hashem.

When he approached the camp however, he saw the eigel and the dancing and how the worshipers got up to mock (the term letzacheik that was applied to their actions denotes immorality and bloodshed, as Rashi explains [32:6], quoting Chazal). He realized that for them, worshiping the eigel was just a way of enabling them to live a life of lewdness and abandon, without the yoke of any authority. It would thus be futile to rebuke them, because their desires were gripping them more strongly than the effect of a thousand rebukes.

Bnei Yisroel were standing around the circles of dancers, wavering in their loyalties. When they saw Moshe coming down the mountain holding the Luchos, they began to yearn for the living G-d whom they had encountered at Yam Suf and at Har Sinai. Their desires pulled them in the other direction and they jumped at the "wonderful" idea of trying to remain close to Hashem while still pandering to their desires, as Chazal tell us.

Seeing that Yisroel were led astray, Moshe retreated. The elders saw him and pursued him. Moshe was holding onto the tips of the Luchos and running while they were holding onto the opposite edge and running after him. Moshe's strength was greater than that of the seventy elders and he wrested the Luchos from them and broke them. This is what the posuk refers to "all [that he did with] his strong hand."

We learn the following lesson from this. Those elders wanted the Luchos to remain with them. They wanted to combine the Luchos with material desires -- to live lives of foolishness but to keep the Luchos in order to merit Olam Habo as well. Moshe Rabbenu therefore emphatically demonstrated that this was impossible. He acted as he did before the multitudes of bnei Yisroel, who all wanted to keep the Luchos with them and who also knew how precious they were to Moshe -- and he broke them before their very eyes.

Imagine the profound impression that would be made if the greatest godol of the generation were to stand with a sefer Torah in front of a vast crowd of Yidden and rip the sefer to shreds before their eyes.

And here it was the Luchos -- unique creations that were not of this world, having been created at twilight on yom shishi and that were written with Hashem's Finger - - that Moshe Rabbenu broke in front of all bnei Yisroel!

The Torah refers to this as "all [that he did with] his strong hand." Just as he planted faith in Hashem in the people's hearts through the signs and wonders that he did at various times, he strengthened their faith in Hashem with this act too. It had a profound effect upon them, touching their innermost Jewish spark. They understood that there is absolutely no way that a Yid can live life together with the Luchos while clinging to the lusts of idolatry, immorality and bloodshed.

In the merit of the Luchos' having been broken, Torah has remained with us untainted, clean from any undesirable admixture -- Torah as it was given at Har Sinai.

This is what Chazal referred to when they said, `Resh Lokish said, "Sometimes the annulment of Torah brings about its preservation, as the posuk says, `Asher shibarto' -- yeyasher kochacho sheshibarto" ' (Menochos 99).

A Letter from the Holy Gaon and Mekubol HaRav Shlomo Eliashiv ztvk'l, Author of Leshem Shevo Ve'achlomoh (Grandfather of HaRav Y. S. Eliashiv ) about the Yearning for Redemption

Be'ezras Hashem yisborach,

Bein Kesseh Le'Ossor 5674 haboh oleinu letovah, Shavel

Gemar chasimoh tovoh to a great friend . . . Concerning that which your honor . . . wrote about what you received from Yerushalayim . . . and what you heard in that connection from a trustworthy person, I must tell your esteemed honor the truth. My opinion and my belief . . . is that whatever relates to [Klal] Yisroel's fondest hopes and to the signs and portents that indicate it, will not start with one private individual or with a group of such people. The knowledge will spread suddenly across the entire world and there will be no doubt whatsoever about their veracity, in anyone's heart. They will go on becoming more and more apparent and established in the same way, until the Redemption is complete.

This is my opinion and my conviction about these matters. Therefore, I do pay no attention whatsoever to all the rumors that have been circulating hitherto. May Hashem yisborach Shemo hasten our redemption . . .

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