Thursday, September 25, 2008


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kreuser SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva
27 Elul 5768/26-27 September 2008

So many of us for so long have been sitting around waiting for that one sign to come and tell us that the time has arrived. So many of us for so long have been waiting, that we have long forgotten what we are waiting for. Is it for that comforting voice of the pilot telling us: Shalom and welcome to El Al flight 001 this is Captain Menachem Ben David and I'm taking you home. Are we waiting for the phone to ring its last ring and tell us: Hi, this is Shiloh Ben David, your travel agent. I've just booked you on Continental Flight 20. But whatever it is that we are waiting for, one thing is certain: We are doing just that - waiting and waiting and waiting. This though, is nothing new for the Jew.

In this week's parsha we are told: Then Hashem, your G-d will return your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to where Hashem, your G-d has scattered you. What exciting news, here the Torah is telling us that when the time comes for Redemption, Hashem Himself will come and gather His people homeward. Sounds great, but how is this to come about?

Rashi comments that so great is the day of the ingathering of the exiles, it will come about with much difficulty, as if He Himself (G-d) must actually hold each and every Jew with His hands to take him from his place in the exile in order to return him to his Land. But why should this be so? Surely, the Jew in exile - out of his Land - was waiting impatiently to return to his Land, and at the first opportunity, when the sign would come he would joyfully return. For what normal person would want to live outside of his own Land, what normal people would not want to be redeemed? But this is exactly what Rashi is teaching us, that when the day arrives, the Jew has to be literally pulled by his teeth to come home.

So we find with the exiles of Egypt, that when the call came in to leave, the great majority of the Jewish people in old Egypt wanted to stay. Many reason were given for not wanting to leave: Who is Moshe that he should be the one to take us out, he himself was raised in Pharaoh's palace, I'm waiting for the real savior to come. Things are good now in Egypt, I'm just waiting for the price of my home to go back up before baking matzot and heading out - and the list went on and on and on.

Things did not change much for the Jew in the time of the returnees from Babylon. The book of Ezra teaches us: Hashem aroused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, and he issued a proclamation throughout his kingdom - and in writing as well, saying: Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, all the kingdoms of the earth has Hashem G-d of Heaven given me, and He has commanded me to build Him a Temple in Jerusalem. Whoever is among you of His entire people - may his G-d be with him - let him go up to Jerusalem. But if this sign was not enough for the people to flock home, for surely, many said to themselves: Who is Cyrus - a non Jew- that we should listen to him and head home? Hashem Himself told His prophet Isaiah that Cyrus is G-d's anointed
one and called him His shepherd, someone "who fulfills all My desires" (Isaiah 44:28).

Still. . . this was not enough for those who wait, and they needed a clearer sign then the prophet himself. So they continued to wait and wait and only some 20 percent of the Jewish people returned from the Babylonian exile. And the ones who waited -the Rabbis, the business owners, the high society people - what became of them? If they did not make their way up to the Land of Israel, then they all, after a few generations, assimilated and were lost to the Jewish people forever.

Will today's Redemption - the one we are in the midst of - be any different than the previous ones for the "waiters"? The Radak, just one of tens of rabbis who wrote in this light throughout the generations, writes: "Just as the redemption from Babylonia was done by the hands of Cyrus, also in the future the Redemption will come about through the nations of the world" (Psalms 146:3).

So the "waiters" continue to wait until that phone rings, understanding not that the call has already been placed and the boat has left shore. Let us not wait until the secure "walls" of this world tumble down, but let us listen to the call that had gone out some time ago and head on home now while time allows, for in the dead of night, when all is silent, one can indeed hear that the phone is ringing!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen
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