14 December 2013


12 Tevet 5774

Anticipation requires imagination, thereby identifying it as a trait of the mind or soul (spiritual) not the brain (physical). Our Sages have told us that one of the questions we will be asked upon our arrival to heavenly judgment is: "Did you anticipate redemption?"

According to Rashi, anticipating redemption means "one should look forward to the fulfillment of the visions of the prophets." To do that, you have to have enough imagination to 'see' the visions of the prophets. But, it's even more than that.

Anticipation involves more than a looking forward to an event. It involves using the imagination to see something coming before it happens as in, for instance, a mother removing a full glass from her baby's reach, anticipating what could possibly happen if she did not intervene.

R' Chanan Morrison, writing on Rav Kook, says:

...It is instructive to note that the heavenly tribunal does not ask about our hopes (tikvah) for redemption, but rather our anticipation (tzipiyah) of redemption. The word tzipiyah indicates a constant watchfulness, like a soldier posted to the lookout (tatzpit), serving at his observation post for days and even years. The sentry may not abandon his watch, even though he observes no changes.

We, too, are on the lookout. We should examine every incident that occurs in the world. With each new development, we should consider whether this is perhaps something that will advance the redemption of Israel and the entire world.

However, tzipiyah leyeshu'ah is not merely passive observation. Woe to the army whose sentries perceive a threat but fail to take action. The moment there is some development in the field, the soldiers must respond swiftly, to defend or retreat. Our tzipiyah also includes the readiness to act promptly. While these two traits — constant watchfulness and rapid response — may appear contradictory, they are both included in the obligation of tzipiyah leyeshu'ah.

My thoughts on this subject have been inspired by the varying reactions to this historic snowstorm in Israel and the resulting consequences, especially as we see that the unfolding redemption is bringing with it previously unimagined situations worldwide.  It can serve as a valuable object lesson for the future.

Proper anticipation should lead to proper preparation, but the reason it has not, in so many cases is due, I think, to a lack of imagination on our part.  Who imagined last Sunday what would be this Sunday?  And because we could not imagine it, we did not anticipate the needs we might have and that led to lack of preparation for the unimaginable and the misery of being without things that we need.

I firmly believe that this has come as a huge wake-up call to Am Yisrael. If you want to weather (pun intended) this next phase of the redemption process as easily as possible, we must begin to excel at anticipation. While our enemies, especially those who live among us, are undergoing judgment, we, the faithful, will still be affected by it, but if we are properly anticipating what is coming, we can minimize the adverse effects.

Very early in the week, the government website of the Israel Meterological Service forecast this storm. Although the eventual severity was not foreseen, they did predict snow, beginning after midnight Wednesday to last possibly through Shabbat morning, and freezing temperatures.  Knowing how any amount of snow shuts down Jerusalem and how often the electricity fails in my area, I started imaging what the situation could turn into and began anticipating possible needs - extra candles and matches, bottled water if pipes freeze, extra warm clothing out of storage, Shabbat foods that did not necessarily require a plata.  

With those preparations in place, although it was annoying not to be able to get out and around at will and to have the electricity going off and on, we had everything we needed and were fairly comfortable. 

Tonight, I'm anticipating that this might not be a one-off event, but the beginning of a new trend and I am putting my imagination to work making a list of supplies that need to be restocked and new boots that need to be bought.  I suggest that all of you do the same - wherever you are.