31 December 2007

Remembrance, Recognition, Return, Restoration

The world is poised on the very brink of completing the process of its redemption. What is important for us as individuals to understand is that whatever occurs on the macro-level also occurs on the micro-level. In fact, one might even say that it does not occur on the macro-level until it occurs on the micro-level in the same way that the body is the sum total of whatever has already occurred in each individual cell.

Each Jew is a cell in the body of Klal Yisrael. We experience as individuals the same process that Klal Yisrael endures. The steps in this process are outlined within what we call "the Four 'I wills'" of the Passover Haggadah which is taken from Shemot, perek 6:

1. "I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and ..."
2. "I will save you from their labor, and ..."
3. "I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. And..."
4. "I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a God to you, and you will know that I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."

These four "I wills" correspond to the four "Rs:" Remembrance, Recognition, Return and Restoration.

" I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,..."
One of the many "burdens" of exile is forgetting who we are or rather who we were before the suffering of 3500 years of assimilation. The first step back requires us to "remember" and keep in mind that each step along the way is itself on ongoing, increasingly revelatory process.

"I will save you from their labor..."
Hashem will, at the appointed time, undo the damage and cause us to recognize ourselves, each other and the times in which we are living. It begins with just a small glimmer of light, like a match struck in absolute darkness, and it grows slowly over time until you suddenly realize that it has become more day than night.

"I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments."
Once we have remembered our past and recognized our place in the future, we cannot help but return to the One who has brought it all about. When we return to ourselves, we return to Him and as we return to Him, He returns to us and this initiates a cascade of return for the entire creation. It sets us on a path of return to Gan Eden.

"I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a God to you, ...."
The return brings us naturally to restoration, to the fulfillment of the very purpose of creation itself---relationship with the Creator. Notice that with this step we complete the entire process by returning to the beginning: "...and you will know that I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."

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Restoration has been the goal since Adam and Chava were ejected from The Garden. This was the first exile. As a people, the Jews have been praying and longing for the restoration of David's Kingdom, the Sanhedrin and the Holy Temple with its service for literally hundreds of years. We also eagerly anticipate the restoration of prophecy. Along with these, we are promised the following:

"And I will restore your judges as at first and your counsellors as in the beginning; afterwards you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City. " (Yeshayahu, Perek 1, pasuk 26)



Though generally understood to be referring to The Great Sanhedrin, I believe that it also includes those known as "The Judges" of Ancient Israel, for if ever there was a time when we needed their courage, their insight and their counsel, it is today.

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