emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Monday, July 11, 2011


(So Where’s Moshiach anyway?)

The truth is that he is in front of your house with the engine running and he wants to get out of the car already.

So what’s he waiting for? 

It might be better to start with what he is not waiting for.

Moshiach doesn’t do Hollywood so he is not waiting for Egypt to rip up the treaty and attack Israel, nor is he waiting for Hezbollah to devastate Israel’s heartland with its 50,000 rockets.  And he most certainly isn’t playing peek-a-boo with Iran’s nukes to be, chas v’shalom.

He’s waiting for us

He always was, and not being a quitter, he always will be until we finally get it together and give him a reason to get out of that car.  And not just any reason mind you, but rather a fine tuned replication of the reason that revved up the engine in the first place.

In his sefer Eim Habanim Semeichah, HaRav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal Hy”d, gives a fascinating account of a great assembly of gedolei Torah that met at the home of R. Yisachar Dov of Belz ztvk”l in the city of Rutzfort, Hungary to where the Rebbe had escaped at the outbreak of the war in 1914. He describes how for almost an hour the senior member of the group, R. Moshe Dovid Teitelbaum z”l, av beit din of Madiar-Lapush in Zibanbergen, grandson and foremost disciple of the Yitav Lev z”l, petitioned the Rebbe of Belz to initiate a movement of awaking to repentance which “would undoubtedly influence the entire generation to return their hearts to our Father in Heaven.”  When he finished, the Rebbe answered him briefly and to the point:

“O Rebbe of Lapush, have you concluded your petition?  When Mashiach arrives, the Jews will repent.  In the meantime, it is of utmost importance that the Jews love one another.  One must love even the lowliest Jew as himself.  One must engender unity and keep far away from anything that causes disunity.  The salvation of Israel during times of trouble rests on this.”

On these words Rav Teichtal commented: “Know and understand this, and do not be a pious fool who is quick to find fault with Israel.  Do not cause disunity among those who are united, particularly at a time when the divine attribute of justice hovers over all of Israel.  It is a time of trouble for Ya’akov, may the Merciful One protect us!”

Every Tisha B’Av we are reminded that in any generation in which the Bais HaMikdash is not rebuilt it’s as if it was destroyed in that generation, and that invariably morphs into a discussion of Sinas Chinam then and now.  Sinas Chinam has a harsh sound to it.  It’s usually loosely translated as meaning unwarranted hatred.  What the Rebbe was talking about was its polar opposite, which Rav Kook z”l called Ahavas Chinam (unwarranted love).

Here’s a Jew who is a Zionist, anti-Zionist, Leftist, Agudist, Chabadnik, a Toldos Aharon chossid or anything else that you might dislike.  You have absolutely no reason to like him let alone love him.  So love him anyway simply for the fact that he is a Jew.

The Belzer Rebbe’s words were said amidst the chaos of World War I and Rav Teichtal’s comments thereto were written in Budapest in 1943 as the Churban in Europe was running at full throttle.

And the situation today is better?

By any reasonable assessment, the security of the Yishuv in Eretz Yisroel when assessed in tevidik terms can charitably be described as toast.  If not for the arrival of Moshiach or the performance of many miracles in lieu thereof, how can the Yishuv be expected to survive? 

If anything, the Rebbe’s words are even more applicable to our own times than they were for his, and Boruch Hashem, in at least two instances, it appears that they have begun to penetrate the sub-conscious of our generation.  And it is for this reason that Moshiach’s car is parked outside your door with the engine still running.

First there was the miscarriage of justice, otherwise known as the conviction of Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin on fraud charges in a Federal District Court and then came the three bochurim who were arrested in Japan for having, unbeknownst to them, $3.6 million worth of Ecstasy pills in their suitcases.

These four Jews were in very serious trouble, and their situation triggered a tremendous outpouring of concern and help from all sectors of Torah Judaism without regard to what type of hat or yarmulka the various victims wore.    Hundreds of thousands of dollars were, and are still being collected for the legal expenses of their trials and appeals.  In addition, there has been no lack of volunteers to do whatever was needed to be done regardless of the financial and personal costs involved.

Jews needed help, their brothers responded, and Moshiach’s car started to move.  But then it hit a speed bump in front of your house and stopped with the engine still running.

So why doesn’t he get out already?

Our generation is a mere shadow of the generation that the Belzer Rebbe was addressing almost one hundred years ago.  It may be too much to ask of either individuals or groups to give up their strongly held principles in a show of achdus.  If one group thinks it’s proper to sit in the Knesset, so why shouldn’t it?  And if another group refuses to take money from the Medina, so why should it?

To make the words of the Belzer Rebbe applicable to our times we have to reduce them to their lowest common denominator which means that if we have trouble respecting each other in life the least we can do is manifest Ahavas Chinom one to another in death.

There have been a number of terrorist tragedies in Eretz Yisroel over the course of the last few years cutting across the entire spectrum of Klal Yisroel, and all of them had two things in common.  Those who died were killed simply because they were Jews.  And almost invariably, those who showed up at the funeral were almost exclusively from whatever group the victim belonged to.  There are exceptions to be sure, such as the tragic death of Daniel Viflic Hy”d, who was critically wounded when an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza destroyed the bus in which he was riding.  Given that he lived in Ramat Beit Shemesh and was buried nearby in Beit Shemesh, which together are a microcosm of the heterogeneousness of the Israeli Torah community, coupled with the fact in the ten days between the attack and his petira Daniel had made it onto every Tehillim list worth a tear, the diversity that put in an appearance at his levayah was to be expected.

But for those counting the seconds till Moshiach as if they were counting pearls, the norm has been, unfortunately, otherwise.

In the way we deal with others Hashem deals with us.  When we ask Hashem to send us Moshiach when we don’t deserve it are we not asking for the ultimate chesed that He could do for us?  And isn’t the ultimate chesed on our part a chesed shel emes?

And yet, when a family of Torah Jews is slaughtered in their beds or eight Yeshiva bochurim are gunned down in their Yeshiva we seem to be incapable of stepping outside of our label saturated existence long enough to attend the funeral.  It matters not a whit how many people show up because it’s not a numbers game.

It’s all about the mosaic of Torah Jewry.

In Shomayim, three hundred of EVERYBODY at a levayah will trump thirty thousand of only a certain SOMEBODY every time.  And when that day finally arrives, the tragedies will stop, the engine will be turned off, he’ll get out of the car, and the doorbell will ring, speedily in our days.