Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Kislev 5761 - December 20, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
A Unique Nation

By HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira

Part II

In the first part, HaRav Shapira noted that we have been in a long golus and had to move whenever we forgot about our uniqueness. Although there are many segulos in Eretz Yisroel, there is danger as well. In particular there is danger from the non-religious since one could become close to them and learn from their ways. We have to stick with Torah; without Torah we are blind!

It may seem as if we can see well, but the truth is that without Torah we cannot see properly! Some people are so spiritually sick that not only are they "blind," but they even mistake light for dark, and vice versa.

In addition to the desire to be like all the other nations and to remove any restraining yokes, another factor lies at the root of the behavior and nationalistic philosophy of the founders of the Zionist State and their successors today, namely the attitude that, "I am wiser and more advanced and enlightened than my father and his father; therefore, the acts of my ancestors do not concern me at all. On the contrary, they are a reflection of obscurantist views and a product of life in the Diaspora. I am enlightened, discerning, and knowledgeable."

Chazal, when talking about the acharis hayomim, tell us that this rejection of family traditions is the result of the influence on the nefesh of the terrible suffering during the ikvesa demeshicho. It is a decree on the family traditions of the Jewish nation.

Until not long ago, family traditions and ways of life were transmitted from father to son, and so on throughout the generations. There was an uninterrupted link for centuries of family traditions. This way the son knew everything he had to about his past, and these traditions ensured continuity for the Jewish family which survived essentially unharmed.

Ever since the decree against the Jewish family came into effect we see, to our sorrow, that this punishment has not escaped even the best families. Everybody runs their own lives, living an independent existence, cut off from his family traditions and values. As a result, the main guarantor of the Jewish family disappeared.

The Raavad writes about this at the end of Eduyos, that we have been blessed and promised that "he [Eliyohu] shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." In the time to come, families will be reunited after the break in the chain of the generations.

The Raavad goes on to quote Rav Dimi's statement in Chagigah 14a, "Yeshaya pronounced eighteen curses upon the Jewish people, but he was not pacified until he pronounced upon them this posuk, `The child shall behave insolently against the aged, and the base against the honorable.' " At the end of Sotoh it says, "In the ikvesa demeshicho insolence will increase, youths will put old men to shame, the old will stand up in the presence of the young." This is indeed an increase in chutzpah, for young people to lord it over their seniors. They will think that they are the ones who know best and that they have to be the leaders of the world.

Unfortunately, we have seen this curse fulfilled in our time. The young generation declares that the old generation knows nothing and that only they have the truth.

This, however, is only the first part of the kloloh. The second part states that "the old will stand up in the presence of the young." The Raavad says that if there is a great increase of chutzpah in the world, we can understand that youngsters lord it over old people, but why should the latter give honor to the young people? Who forces them to behave in this way? And what are they honoring them for?

The Raavad answers that in the time of the ikvesa demeshicho, the prevailing chutzpah will be so great that even the elders, talmidei chachomim, will respect it. They themselves will think that insolent youngsters are deserving of respect; not that the chutzpah, will choliloh attach itself to them, but the increase of chutzpah in the world will affect them to the extent that they take chutzpah into account.

This curse, adds the Raavad, is the most terrible one, as Rav Dimi pointed out (see above). When this kloloh becomes fulfilled, Moshiach will have to come: the Jewish nation will not be able to live through this curse.

What is wrong with honoring youngsters? What harm results from honoring non-religious Jews? The answer is to be found in the words of the novi Malachi (3:13), "Your words have been all too strong against me, says Hashem. Yet you say, `How have we spoken against You'? You have said, "It is vain to serve Hashem; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge?"

The obvious question is, if the Jewish people made this terrible statement, what are they surprised about? Are they not aware of what they said and how severe it is?

The answer lies in the continuation of the passage, in Hakodosh Boruch Hu's answer to the Jewish people, "And now we call the proud happy!" This means that praising the wicked and giving them respect is the equivalent of saying that it is vain to serve Hashem and that it is not profitable to keep His Torah. We can now understand why it is such a severe sin to praise Jews who do not keep Torah and mitzvos.

Remember the Torah of My Servant Moshe

During this period we are going through, we have a duty to strengthen our emunoh in the thirteen Articles of Faith which we say every day, including the twelfth one: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach and, though he may tarry, I await him daily." The fact that the Rambam included this statement as one of the Principles of Faith means that whoever does not await Moshiach daily with a perfect faith, is not a believer! (See also what the Rambam says in his commentary on the mishna at the end of Perek Cheilek in Sanhedrin about the thirteen ikkorim and how he explains the twelfth principle.)

We must realize that Moshiach will come "suddenly to his temple" (Malachi 3:1). The novi is telling us that today, at any time, we will suddenly lift up our eyes and see Moshiach standing in front of us. If we realize this fully, and feel intensely that he will come all of a sudden, the way we conduct ourselves and our daily routines will be adjusted accordingly to prepare for this sudden event.

The Brisker Rov, may his merit protect us, derived the obligation to anticipate the yeshu'oh during every part of the day from the posuk, "We await Your salvation every day" (or, "the whole day").

"I await him daily." The Chofetz Chaim zt"l explained this to mean that we are not to give up hope even for a moment that Moshiach will come. The gemora says that if someone accepts upon himself nezirus to come into effect on the day that Moshiach comes, he is forbidden to drink wine immediately, in case Moshiach comes on the day he makes the neder of nezirus. We see clearly from this gemora that there is a real possibility that he may come at any time, and every day we must be ready and prepared for him.

He also said that if all Klal Yisroel will await his arrival, he would surely come, and if he has not yet come, it means that we are not genuinely anticipating him. To believe in his imminent arrival is not some exalted level which we should strive to achieve; it is an obligatory fundamental article of faith! This, then, is our first responsibility in these times, while we await the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

How should we prepare ourselves for his coming? We must not, choliloh, adopt any innovations in our lives. All our actions must be only in accordance with the Torah, as it says at the end of Malachi, "Remember the Torah of Moshe My servant, which I commanded in Chorev. Behold, I will send you Eliyohu . . ." This means that we are to prepare ourselves for Moshiach's arrival by remembering the Torah. This preparation has tremendous value, because the Torah protects and saves us from the birth pangs of the Moshiach.

The Or Hachaim Hakodosh comments on the posuk in parshas Vayechi, "Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes," that there are two types of scenarios for the arrival of Moshiach. If the Jewish people toil in the mitzva of limud haTorah, Moshiach will appear in full glory and majesty, without their having to undergo the suffering of chevlei haMoshiach. But if they, chas vesholom, neglect the study of Torah during this time, they will have to endure physical and emotional suffering.

It is only if we are loaded with Torah that we can welcome Moshiach Tzidkeinu, because ever since the time Torah was given to us there have been no innovations and there never will be. When Moshiach comes too, nothing will change for us. We will have the same Krias Shema, the same mincha and ma'ariv, the same charity and chesed, and the same limud haTorah. There will not be even one innovation! Our whole task consists of in observing old, eternal mitzvos, and it will always remain so.

When we merit the arrival of Moshiach, events will take place which seem like incredible innovations: the Nations of the World, and anyone amongst us who is unworthy, will arrive through caves and clefts of the rock out of recognition and awe of Hashem's grandeur in the world, and the salvation of Klal Yisroel will become an established and irreversible fact. It sounds like a state of affairs totally different than anything that we can relate to, but it will actually be nothing essentially new!

The Targum on Shir Hashirim (8:1), "Oh that you were as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother!" says the following: "In that time the Melech Hamoshiach will be revealed to Knesses Yisroel, and the Jewish people will say to him, `Come, be our brother, and let us go up to Yerushalayim, and we will absorb your words of Torah, like a child suckles his mother's breasts!" The "brotherliness" of the Moshiach towards us will consist of our going up with him to Yerushalayim to hear his Torah. Our thirst and desire for the dvar Hashem, for chiddushei Torah will be as intense as the suckling's desire for his mother's milk. This will be our greeting to Moshiach, "Teach us ta'amei haTorah!" We want to greet him with the same unchangeable Torah!

"Torah tzivoh lonu Moshe." Nothing about this will change! We pray to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, "Renew our days as of old." "As of old" refers to the revelation of taamei haTorah. Our sole possession is the Torah, and our whole task is to observe it.

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will make mention of the name of Hashem." The real battlefield is inside each one of us, in our anticipation of Hashem's salvation. It has become patently obvious that we will not be saved by their actions or their army. The battlefront is not there! The yeshu'oh will come from the botei medrash, the chadorim, the yeshivos -- and from every Jewish household where the children are educated in Torah and pure yiras Shomayim.

Since matan Torah, the Jewish nation has not survived by natural means, but only by virtue of the Torah and its blessings. We do not expect salvation from this or any other government: we rely solely on our Father in Heaven to protect us in the merit of our studying His Torah and of our prayers to Him.

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