Looking Through the Abyss
In the post-mortem that followed the recently concluded Operation Pillar of Cloud, the accuracy and overall effectiveness of the Iron Dome anti-missile system was conceded by virtually everyone, including the Arabs. But there were those who took it a step further past the battlefield results to project a long term deterrent mode of warfare that they claim will stay the course for the State of Israel in its struggle for survival.
Rabbeinu HaGaon HaGadol Rav Moshe Shapiro shlit"a wasn’t one of them.
In a most profound analysis, he took what many find to be a terminally complex situation facing Eretz Yisrael/Klal Yisrael, and reduced it to a problem and a solution that can be comprehended by anyone.
In EmunahSpeak I more often than not quote from one or two seforim or shiurim that I have heard and then use them as building blocks to construct a thesis. But these are extraordinary times and Rav Moshe has matched the tenor of these times with extraordinary words so I will let the Gadol speak for himself, resigning myself to a few stage directions and sundry comments where appropriate.
The Rav lets us hear flat out that according to Teva (natural means) we are in a problem that has no possibility of a solution, period. He says further that a solution that is similar to the “solution,” (with as many double quotes as we can put there) that we recently experienced vis á vis the Iron Dome and the pin point surgical strikes by which the IAF took out 1500 Hamas launch sites, may last once or twice, but this is not a solution.
And whoever thinks of sitting and talking, to negotiate and make agreements as a “solution,” insults the intelligence of a ten year old. These are nothing but words of vanity.
The bottom line of our current and future situation, as Rav Moshe sees it, is that the Creator of the world has placed us between the ultimate rock and hard place with an unsolvable problem.
Not the sort of line that one would expect Nefesh B’Nefesh to be pushing, to say the least.
If we would be talking about any other People or country their future would be toast because the parameters of their existence are delineated by Teva. Not so Klal Yisrael.
Rav Shapiro reminds us that the Rambam states clearly that Israel will only be redeemed through Teshuva. And the Torah already promised that eventually Israel will do Teshuva at the end of the Exile and immediately they will be redeemed.
The Rav is not saying a nice vort, a shmuz or giving a Shabbos Shuva drasho. He’s speaking in the context of hatzolas nefoshos, and after looking into the aforementioned Rambam he states categorically:
To live like this is impossible and to do something against it is impossible. But we have found a solution; the definite solution! We learn from this that there is no other solution. Any thought in the direction of another solution is stupidity!
In Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer we learn that HKB”H will raise up for Klal Yisrael a king whose decrees are as harsh as Haman, and they will do Teshuva. We further learn that Yishmael was given that name because in the future Hakodesh Boruch Hu will hear the sound of Klal Yisrael from what Yishmael will do in the land in the End of Days.
Rav Shapiro tells us that we know exactly what they will do in the Land in the End of Days because we already saw it. Part of this has passed, some of it is happening in the present, and we have the ability to ensure that it does not occur in the future. Chazal revealed that this will be the form of conduct, and this is how the Creator of the world will bring us to be redeemed. Someone will come and force us to repent. Every thinking person understands that this is the one and only explanation for what is occurring here. There is no other explanation! The Creator of the world appointed Yishmael to be that harsh king through whom we need to pray, and the prayer will be accepted. HKB”H will hear the sound of the cries of the Jewish people.
And that’s the Halacha as decided by the Rambam: A community, whenever they do Teshuva and cry out with a complete heart, they are answered.
Rav Moshe asks: What do we have to do? What obligates us from these words?
And he answers: Don’t go after any analysis (in the newspapers etc.) which is spot on advice because the papers are full of solutions for what he has already established to be a problem that is insolvable (in Teva).
The Rav further asks: Should we sit and wait until a king as harsh as Haman will rise against us and then do Teshuva?
Toward where will we bring our shame, asks the Rav, when the day will come and they will ask us, “Where were you? Where were you when everything was so clear?”
What will we answer? That we were too busy writing a letter to a newspaper or reading it?!
So what should we do? We are at the End of Days and Yishmael is doing exactly as Chazal wrote.
When a person is brought to Final Judgment, he is asked, “Did you expect salvation?” Such a question is asked of someone who really wants it. The problem is that he is not sitting and expecting it, so that is why he is asked this.
I suspect that we will be asked, “Did you want salvation?” Forget “Did you expect." Did you want it? Or did you want that it should not come? This is the first thing. This is Aleph. Without this, it is impossible to even begin.
This is the very point we made in EmunahSpeak: A Burning Need where we said that the reason Moshiach is not here is because we want Moshiach now as opposed to we need Moshiach now. In its terminal passivity, the wanting of Moshiach in and of itself will do nothing to bring the Geula. If he comes, he comes. If not, we’ll keep on wanting until he does, whereas the need for Moshiach will inevitably push Klal Yisroel in innumerable directions that will create the conditions to bring the Geula ever so closer, speedily in our days.
This is the first thing, says the Rav, We first need to enter reality---not to live in our imagination. This is the truth and it is very clear. One who expects salvation will merit it.
Hashem, for his part, is waiting. But what about us?
Rav Shapiro says that we are preventing:
We, the ones who accepted the Torah, are preventing the revelation of His Glory in the world. We are preventing the Redemption of the entire world. How? By the fact that we are not waiting. This fact makes us into murderers. Not just murderers, but mass-murderers.
Know and understand, says the Rav, that these words are completely clear and serious. There is no toying around here or room for playing games. We can forgo the multitude of words of encouragement and awakening and another 2 chapters of Tehillim after davening. This is not what is requested. What is requested is that we don’t prevent! We should not prevent!
And then he says a very big chiddush:
If the heads of communities repent or if one community repents, in their merit the entire exile will be gathered in.
One community in Israel, one synagogue. It is enough with this so that all of us will leave the exile.
In the Torah we are taught that Hashem agreed to heed Avraham Aveinu’s plea to spare the wicked city of S’dom if ten righteous people could be found therein.
And now that the entire non-Jewish world has taken on a striking resemblance to S’dom we have it on the good authority of Rabbi Moshe Shapiro that if only one community (minimum of ten adult males) or one synagogue repents Klal Yisroel will be instantly redeemed in their merit.
This is already doable because given the thousands of Yidden these days that are focused on growth the existence of a congregation capable of the requisite Teshuva moves from a slight possibility to a definite probability.
But what is the requisite Teshuva?
This we are not told, but what passes as Teshuva for most of us on Erev Yom Kippur isn’t going to hack it. It could be as we said in EmunahSpeak: The Yesod of Teshuva that To do Teshuva you have to strip away all of the excuses. So say goodbye to all of the ifs, buts, and maybes, as you take yourself down to your spiritual socks.
Or maybe it goes even deeper than that.
On 11 Tammuz 1941, Rav Elchonon Wasserman HY”D was murdered in Kovno’s Ninth Fort along with a few talmidim and some other Rabbonim. These were his last words:
In Shomayim it seems that they consider us to be tzaddikim, because we have been chosen to be korbanos for Klal Yisroel. Therefore, we must do Teshuvah now. We don’t have much time. We must keep in mind that we will be better korbonos if we do teshuvah. In this way we will save the Yidden in America. Let no foreign thought enter our minds, Chas V’Shalom, as that will make us pigul, an unfit korban. We are now fulfilling the greatest mitzvah. Yerushalayim was destroyed with fire and will be rebuilt with fire. The same fire that will consume our bodies will one day rebuild Klal Yisrael.
Klal Yisrael has been rebuilt (at least quantitatively) and yet we find ourselves threatened by that same fire.