Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Shall We Ascend The Mountain?

The Need to Act

The prophet Hoshea says (3-5), "Afterwards the Children of Israel will return and seek out Hashem their G-d and David their king and they will tremble for Hashem and His goodness in the end of days.
Rashi makes a very powerful comment. He says, "The people of Israel were exiled because they rejected three things: the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of the House of David and the Beit HaMikdash. R. Shimon ben Menassiya said, 'Israel will not be shown a good sign until they return and (Uvikshu) seek out these three things.'"
Rabbi Yissacher Shlomo Teichtahl in his classic work "Eim Habonim Semeichah" cites this Rashi a number of times as proof for two central ideas. Firstly, that by seeking out Eretz Yisroel one is in fact attempting to acquire all three because they all apply only there. His second point is that "seeking" of necessity means much more than prayer. One cannot fulfill the requirement "to seek" by prayer alone regardless of its sincerity.
King David prays "One thing (Shaalti) I asked of Hashem that shall I seek (Avakesh): would that I dwell in the house of Hashem all of the days of my life to behold the pleasantness of Hashem and to contemplate in His Sanctuary."
What is the difference between Shaalti — asked and Avakesh— seek. "I have asked and I will seek." The former refers to prayers while the latter indicates that David is ready to actively pursue his goal. So too the passage in Hoshea, "Afterwards the Children of Israel shall return and seek" means that they will follow up their prayer with action.
Rav Teichtahl was writing in 1943 urging Jews to seek out Eretz Yisroel. We have thank G-d made great strides forward since those dark days. For us the imperative is to "seek out" Har HaBayit.

Yet we didn't always respond to challenges with the same wisdom and sense of purpose. We made mistakes. We made big mistakes.

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