Ha’atzmaut: Independance Day

The State of Israel arose out of the dust, the ashes of the ovens, not because we were worthy of it, but because the nations had it coming – G-d’s terrible punishment and fury were ready to be cast upon a world which had mocked and scorned the G-d of Israel. Please bear with me if I suggest that that same State of Israel which arose forty (*at the time of this writing) years ago is not just the start of redemption, but quite likely also the start of a grace period we have merited. How logical the thought that G-d, our Merciful Father, is benevolently, beseechingly giving us a last chance to transform avoidable suffering to magnificent, immediate redemption.

Not in vain did R. Eliezer say (Sanhedrin 99a), “The Messianic era is forty years, as it says, ‘Forty years did I loathe this generation’ (Ps. 95:10).” Of course, we cannot know whether G-d will be precise with the number forty regarding beings as frail as ourselves. Our sages do add there, “R. Elazar ben Arach says, ‘Seventy years’… Rebbe says, ‘Three generations.'” Yet, the true length is most likely somewhere in between forty years and three generations. In any event, Israel have little time left to examine their deeds and amass mitzvot on the path of truth by which no one can stumble.

Forty years. Perhaps not exactly that, but the existence of such a period is clear. Forty years’ extension, forty years of our Father in Heaven’s cries to our heart, a last chance to prevent an avoidable tragedy, to bring redemption in glory and majesty.

We mustn’t deceive ourselves. The enormous miracle of the return to the Land and the establishment of the Jewish state certainly marks the start of complete redemption, but not its completion. The true era of splendor will arrive in breathtaking glory and majesty only if we uphold the great principle:“If you follow My statutes… I will bring peace in the Land” (Lev. 26:3,6).

This is the incontrovertible law of the Jewish People, and there is no escaping it. Whether the Jew’s future will be bright or bleak, peaceful or horror-filled, depends only on his devotion to his task, his mission in this world – bowing his head and subjecting his will to the yoke of Heaven.

“If you follow My statutes… I will bring peace in the Land… and if you do not listen to Me… I will bring upon you disaster” (Lev. 26:14, 16). This is the choice, the only choice. All the rest is worthless and of no avail. Time is running out. The decision is in our hands.

G-d is imploring us, His beloved, chosen sons, to agree to accept what He desires to give us. The Messiah is knocking at our door, his footsteps can be heard in the streets, and the voice of the G-d of Israel calls: “Return to Me – the word of the L-rd of hosts – and I will return to you” (Zechariah 1:3). Hasten! Hurry! In glory! Today! At this very moment! “Today, if you hearken to His voice!” (Ps. 95:7).

G-D’S MERCY “PREVENTS” REDEMPTION

Yet if, G-d forbid, we miss our chance, and the moment arrives from which there is no turning back; if, Heaven forbid, G-d brings the last stage of redemption “in its time”, with Messianic birthpangs and tragedies the likes of which we have never known, then it will come suddenly, out of the blue. Precisely due to the kindness of G-d, Who delays His anger, and gives one extension after another in hope that perhaps Israel will repent, all the threats and warnings seem unserious. Surely it is natural for a person or nation to deny their evil and shun rebuke, all the more so when it is accompanied by warnings of a terrible punishment. It is natural to mock the person issuing the warnings, or at best ignore him. Thus, Jeremiah cried out, “I am derided daily. Everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out loud. I shout of violence and ruin. Therefore, the L-rd’s word is made a reproach to me; a derision all the day” (Jer. 20:7-8). We likewise find (Ezek. 33:30-32):

“They all speak to one another [“derisively” – Metzudat David], saying, ‘Please come! Hear the word that comes from the L-rd.’ My people come to you… and sit before you, and they hear your words but do not carry them out. For they treat them as flute music, while their heart is set on unjust gain. Lo, you are to them like a song for flutes by one who plays well and has a pleasant voice. They hear your words but do not carry them out.”

Metzudat David comments (Ibid., v. 32): “For them, your prophecy is a farcical song, a joke. The singer has a fine voice and his music a pleasing melody, but nothing can be done, for it contains neither command nor warning.” That is, the people do not view the prophet’s words as a serious command or warning, so there is no one to take it to heart.

This is especially so when opposite those issuing dark warnings are those who in Jeremiah’s words, “heal the hurt of the daughter of My people superficially, crying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). Metzudat David explains, “They calm their worries over the approaching evil.” Here is Ezekiel on the prophecies of false peace:

“They have led My people astray, saying ‘Peace!’ when there was no peace. Should anyone build a wall, these daub it with whitewash… They are the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace when there was no peace, says the L-rd G-d. (Ezek. 13:10,16)

Since Israel do not wish to hear the warnings, and others arise who promise a peaceful future, they reject the warnings and the demand to repent: “They deny G-d’s prophets and say ‘They are wrong! Neither evil shall befall us, nor shall we see sword or famine. They are just wind. G-d’s word is not in them” (Jer. 5:12-13). By refusing to listen and by encouraging those who promise peaceful lives, they reject the warning of the real prophets who admonish them, treating their words like a passing wind, without substance or truth. Jeremiah lamented, “Ah, L-rd G-d! The prophets say, ‘You shall not see the sword; neither shall you have famine, for I shall give you real peace in this place” (Jer. 14:13).

Thus, precisely G-d’s kindness and mercy upon His people and land, which make Him stay calamity and grant one extension after another, so that He postpones the terrible punishment in hopes of Israel repenting, precisely these make Israel doubt the truth of the warnings. The very fact that the admonisher has blown the warning trumpet so often, and so much time has passed and his warnings remain unfulfilled, makes Israel view G-d’s warnings with contempt.

This is Jeremiah’s intent in, “Behold, they say to me, ‘Where is the word of the L-rd? Let it come now’ (Jer. 17:15). Metzudat David comments, “My detractors ask derisively, ‘Where is G-d’s word? Let it come now so we can see whether the truth is with you.’ This occurs because after so many warnings, and after the long extension which G-d so mercifully grants, due to which the prophecies remain unfulfilled, the nation ridicules both the warners and the warnings. As King Solomon wrote, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, the hearts of men are fully set to do evil.” (Eccles. 8:11). Rashi comments, “G-d does not hasten to punish evildoers, hence they think there is no judgment.”

How much more so when they are warned and threatened and rebuked, and due to G-d’s mercy one extension follows another. This is King Solomon’s intent in the next verse (v. 12): “Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, G-d gives him extensions.” When people see that a sinner sins a hundred times or more, and G-d gives him extensions, they think there is no judgment. They do not know that the reason he is not punished is G-d’s slowness to anger, and the extensions granted him.

Such is also Ezekiel’s intent in, “Son of man, what is that proverb you have in the Land of Israel, saying, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’?” (Ezek. 12:22). The people coined a saying regarding the prophecies of destruction in the Land, saying, “The days are prolonged.” By this they mean: We have been hearing these warnings for a long time, and they still have not been realized. There must be no truth to them.

Moreover, since warnings have been voiced for so long and remain unfulfilled, there are people who say that, indeed, the tragedies will come in the end of days, in some far off time, but surely not in our day. Thus, precisely G-d’s mercy which made Him give Israel an extension which would allow them to repent and nullify the calamity, is what undermined the warnings. Hence Ezekiel adds (v. 23), “Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the L-rd G-d: I will make this proverb cease; they shall no more use it in Israel.’ Say to them: ‘The days are at hand; the word of every vision.'”

REDEMPTION “IN ITS TIME”: SUDDEN AND WITHOUT WARNING

If, after all the warnings, Israel still do not return to their Father in Heaven through deeds of complete faith and trust, G-d will decide at a certain time to unleash the suffering and Messianic birthpangs of redemption “in its time”. These will arrive immediately, out of the blue – G-d have mercy! It thus says, “Destruction follows destruction, for the whole land is spoiled. Suddenly are my tents spoiled, my curtains in a moment” (Jer. 4:20); and, “O daughter of my people, gird sackcloth and roll in ashes… for the pillager shall attack suddenly” (Jer. 6:26). K’li Yakar provides an invaluable insight on this in his comments on Deut. 4:25-26:

“Since sentence against evil is not executed speedily, their hearts are fully set to do evil. They do not sense that G-d is delaying His anger to collect what is coming to Him in the end of days. It thus says, ‘When you have children [and grandchildren, and have been established in the Land for a long time] you might become decadent and make a statue [of some image, committing an evil act in the eyes of the L-rd your G-d and making Him angry]’ (Deut. 4:25). That is, within the very time that you become decadent, you will have children and grandchildren according to the way of the world, and become established in the Land, and you will mistakenly say, ‘If G-d wished to kill us, h would not remain silent so long. After all, we have children according to the way of the world, and we live on the Land many days. Surely we must be guiltless.’

“It therefore says, ‘I call Heaven and earth as witnesses for you today that you will quickly perish from this land” (Deut. 4:26). It is G-d’s way not to bring troubles in quick succession, as the Midrash derived from the words, ‘Keep a space between one herd and the next {Gen. 32:17). This is specifically when He punishes immediately without a prolonged interval; but if He delays His anger a long time, then in the end of days, He brings compounded troubles in quick succession.

“It was this way with the First Temple. They worshipped idols for a long time, starting in Jeroboam’s day. Even so, G-d delayed His anger, as it says, ‘You will quickly be destroyed’ (Deut. 11:17). There Rashi explains, ‘I will give you no extensions’ [i.e., no further extensions]. In the same way, it says here, ‘You will surely be destroyed quickly'(Deut. 4:26). The ‘quickness’ here surely refers to the troubles that will ultimately come in quick succession. [See source at length.]”

This is the way the final redemption will be – sudden, without prior warning, whether it comes “in its time” or “in haste”. It says, “Behold, I send you my messenger, and he shall clear the way before Me. The L-rd, Whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple. The messenger of the covenant [‘the avenger of the covenant’ – Rashi], whom you delight in, shall come, says the L-rd of hosts” (Malachi 3:1).

The main point is that a person should not delude himself because many years are passing and redemption has not yet arrived. Surely, the signs and miracles before our eyes are a lamp at the feet of all who wish to see. G-d has given us a few opportunities in these times to demonstrate our trust in Him through deeds of faith which would have brought us complete redemption “in haste”, but we have missed out on all of them. My eyes weep rivers because none are as blind as “G-d’s servant Jacob” (Jer. 30:10). Because we are so stubborn, redemption “in its time” looms over us, threatening Messianic birthpangs and suffering that could be avoided. Our sages said (Berachot 13a): “‘Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. I shall do something new. Now it shall spring forth’ (Isaiah 43:18-19):

‘Remember not the former things’: This is the nations subjugating Israel. ‘Neither consider the things of old’: This is the exodus from Egypt. ‘Behold, I will do something new. Now it shall spring forth’: R. Yosef learned, ‘This is the War of Gog and Magog.’ To what can this be compared? To a person walking along the way who encountered a wolf and was saved from it. From then on, he would tell the story of the wolf. Then he encountered a lion and was saved. Henceforth, he would tell about the lion. He then encountered a snake and was saved. He forgot the first two stories and, henceforth, would tell about the snake. It is the same with Israel. Later troubles make them forget earlier ones.”

Indeed, in the War of Gog and Magog, unless we merit redemption “in haste”, we will be beset by many grievous troubles whch will make us forget all our earlier ones.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Rav M. Kahane political writings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s