Monday, March 28, 2011

Brave New World

Art by Schnette
Essay: Stress Before Redemption by Roy (Yisroel) S. Neuberger   Hat tip: Devorah Designs

Dear Friends:

During our Biblical Redemption, the foundations of Egypt crumbled. We don't have to imagine what that means; the world has witnessed it in Japan.

"Several times I heard from the holy Chofetz Chaim that we can learn about the end of our exile from what happened at the end of our exile in Egypt, as it says [Micha 7:15], 'As in the days of your leaving Egypt, I will [in the Final Redemption] show wonders.'" [Rabbi Elchonen Wasserman zt"l as quoted in Redemption Unfolding by Rabbi A. A. Mandelbaum]

Egypt, the world's most powerful country in Biblical times, crumbled like the World Trade Center crumbled on 9/11. But the Final Redemption may take place on an even larger scale. Since the Jewish People are now spread all over the world, our future Redemption will have to be correspondingly gigantic. Do we not ask G-d to gather us from "the four corners of the earth"? During the Final Redemption the entire world structure as we know it may be dismantled, just as the structure of Egypt was dismantled in ancient days.

Redemption does not have to be violent. All decent people hope that Moshiach will come peacefully. But that, after all, depends on us! If the Children of Israel do teshuva, all will be well!

If not ....

One thing should be clear: following the Final Redemption, the world will look completely different. The Maharal writes, "a complete change will come over the world, to the extent that the world of Moshiach will be considered a new creation in comparison to the world as we know it." [Netzach Yisroel, Ch.47] The direction of world affairs will be the Torah! "Ki Mitzvion taitzai Torah u'dvar Hashem miYerushalayim... From Zion will come forth Torah and the Word of G-d from Jerusalem." [Yeshaya 2:3] G-d will be One and His Name One.

The process has already begun. Every area of life is in crisis. As a result, we are exposed to enormous stress, be it financial, medical, psychological, family, children ... the list goes on and on!

"Maase avos siman l'banim... The actions of the Fathers are signs for the Children."

In Egypt eighty per cent perished during the Plague of Darkness because they "did not wish to depart [from Egypt]" [Rashi on Exodus 10:22]. The stress in Biblical Egypt was enormous. So strong was the pull of the surrounding culture that a huge percentage of the Children of Israel were unable to extricate themselves from its influence! This is a message for our contemporary world!

Today, people are under enormous strain. You see it in hair-trigger tempers. You see it in aggressive driving. You see it in lack of proper behavior, as people rush to put themselves first. You see it in desperate attempts to acquire money. You see it in lavish expenditures on vacations and luxuries, attempts to find peace in a world in which there is no peace!

"Moshe spoke to the Children of Israel, but they did not heed him because of shortness of breath..." [Exodus 6:9]. In Egypt, the stress was so great that many of the Children of Israel did not listen to the voice which would have saved them if they had listened. The same danger exists today. We are so panicked that we are not behaving rationally. If we hold on to the unreality of the surrounding culture, G-d forbid, that "support" will break like a flimsy reed and we will perish when that culture goes under! But if we grasp onto the Torah -lehavdil! - we will live forever!

"Moshe said to the people, 'Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform for you today!" [Exodus 14:13]

Let's learn from this! The Torah is telling us what happened in Egypt so that we may survive during the events of the Final Redemption. Our Rabbis have explained: "In the final war before the coming of Moshiach, all the Jews who fear Hashem will survive. Hashem will say to them, 'All those who are removed from the secular, worldly culture ... you are Mine.'" [Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein zt"l, Leket Rishimos]


King David's life was in constant danger. How did he survive? He visualized himself as standing constantly before the Presence of G-d. "Shivisi Hashem l'negdi samid... I have set Hashem before me constantly." [Psalm 16]

When we pray, do we envision the Holy Temple? Soon B"H the Presence of G-d will return to Zion, and the HolyTemple will stand before our eyes. If we envision this future event, then we have an "anchor" by which we can steady ourselves as the chaos whirls around us.

Our Rabbis spoke words to sustain us.

"Hashem is with me; I have no fear! How can man affect me?" [Psalm 118]

"Ani maamin be'emunah shelemah ... I believe with complete faith in the coming of Moshiach, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come." [Rambam, Principle 12]

May we all soon "hear ... for a second time ... in the presence of all the living ... 'I am Hashem your G-d.'" [Shabbos Mussaf Kedusha]


Dovid Chaim said...

I like this article. It makes a lot of sence.

yaak said...

I second that. Good food for thought. Interesting comparison to ולא שמעו אל משה מקצר רוח...