23 July 2010

SHABBAT SHALOM

BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kreuser SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT VAETCHANAN/SHABBAT NACHAMU
13 Av 5770/23-24 July 2010


THE CLOSING WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY

"I implored G-d at that time saying, My L-rd You have begun to show your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand, for what power is there in the heavens or on earth that can perform according to Your mighty acts? Please let me cross and see the good Land that is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon."

What was bothering Moshe, that he felt that he just had to enter into the Holy Land? If he was like the great majority of the Jewish people throughout the generations, he certainly would have been happy, quite happy to stay put in the exile and not enter. What made him so possessed that he prayed more then 500 times to enter the Land? The Talmud answered that Moshe wanted to fulfill the commandments of the Torah, something which is done in the exiles only so that we shall not forget them when we come into the Land - what one might call a practice run. But now that the Jewish people were so close to entering the Land of Israel, Moshe wanted the real thing, to be able to fulfill G-d's commandments in the Land.

Similarly, we find King David, who was forced out of the Land of Israel by King Saul, saying: "Why have you taken me out of the inheritance of the L-rd, saying, go and worship idols?" Now would anyone think that the great David would go and worship idols? Rather, David was saying: The mere fact that I have been exiled from the Land, it is as if I am worshiping idols. So, too, Rashi states that one who lives outside the land of Israel is as if he has no G-d.

So much greatness awaits the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, not only on a personal level but also on a national level. For as long as the Jewish people stubbornly hold on to the exile, the Redemption cannot come. We find in the times of Ezra and Nechemiah that only a small minority of the Jewish people heeded the cry and returned to the Land of Israel. The great majority, the important ones, the leaders, the gedolim stayed in beloved Babylon. They said: Certainly G-d is not going to bring the Redemption though King Cyrus, a non Jew, this is not the way of redemption, we will tell G-d how to redeem the nation - so they stayed.

The Midrash teaches us that because they did not come back to the Land, the Divine Presence also did not return in full, and so the Second Temple period, which could have been the Final Redemption, was doomed from the start. What became of all those who stayed behind? All the important Jews? They all died out, intermarried and were lost for all generations; only the riffraff, the "no good" ones who came to the Land of Israel survived - and we are their descendents.

In the book "Eim Habanim Smeichah", Rabbi Yissachar Teichtal, who lived during the years of the Holocaust, cries out that all of the troubles that are befalling the Jewish people are coming because there is no awakening to come up to the Land of Israel. Excuses they had for not coming home: the Jews who are in the Land are not religious, G-d will not redeem His people though the nations of the world. Once again we were teaching G-d how to redeem His people, and once again the exile ended bitterly for the Jews.

As I look out from my home in Mitzpe Yericho, I can see the mountains of Nevo, the same mountains where Moshe stood and implored G-d to allow him to come into the Land. But Moshe Rabenu's dream of entering the Land was not fulfilled, and here I am, together with my family, able to walk the width and length of the Land. Not just me, but anyone can today come up to the Land. With so much greatness and holiness here, what, then, is holding all my brethren back? Why are they not here beside me? As history has proven over and over again, the window of opportunity is not forever open. Now is the time to enter and embrace greatness, now that the door remains open. Take hold of her while there is still time!

Blessings,
Levi Chazen