Sunday, December 29, 2013


Ramchal by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
"The Great Redemption" 

Prologue (Part 1)

At bottom, each nation is a product of its dreams and realizations. And while we Jews have certainly come upon a world of realizations in the course of our 2,000 year long exile, we've forgotten some of our dreams.

Perhaps the greatest of them, though, is the dream of the coming of the Moshiach ("Messiah") at long last and our being redeemed. But how will that happen, and what will be going on in the Celestial background to bring it about? Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto discussed all that in an early work entitled Ma'amar HaGeulah ("A Discourse on The Redemption"). It's a rather short and fairly unknown work that was composed sometime before 1730, and only came to light in 1889 through the research of Rabbi Shmuel Luria. What is manages to do, though, is explain the cosmic backdrop behind the exile we're in now, the first low stirrings of the Messianic Era, the eventual redemption itself, and much more. It will serve as the source of this series.

We'll start off the series itself with a quick preliminary overview of classical Jewish ideas of exile and redemption, we'll then offer the "end of the story" as Ramchal depicts it at the very beginning and thus come to see what we're all to look forward to, then we'll go back to the beginning to enjoy a full step by step laying-out of the process.

Friday, December 6, 2013

One Action Over a Thousand Sighs - for the Shabbos Table

     In Vayigash we read about the reunion of Joseph and Benjamin: "And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck."  
     Our Sages tell us that each brother wept over the destruction that would occur in the other brother's portion of Israel. Joseph wept over the destruction of the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem, in Benjamin's portion, and Benjamin wept over the Sanctuary in Shilo, in Joseph's portion.  
     Symbolically, every Jew can build a "personal" Holy Temple in his heart, a place where the Divine Presence dwells. A Jew who conducts himself according to Torah causes G-d's Presence to dwell within him, thereby building a "Sanctuary." Doing the opposite prevents the Divine Presence from entering.  
     The destruction of the Temple is cause for grief. When Joseph prophetically saw that the two Holy Temples would be destroyed he burst into tears. When Benjamin saw that the Sanctuary would be destroyed, he was also overcome.  
     So too it is with a Jew's inner Temple: When a person sees his friend's Temple being destroyed by his actions, it is painful to witness.  
     He cries, for he is taking part in his friend's sorrow.  
     Yet we find something very strange. Joseph wept over the destruction that would occur in Benjamin's portion, but not over the destruction in his own territory.  
     Similarly, Benjamin wept over the destruction of the Sanctuary in Joseph's portion, but did not grieve over the two Temples in Jerusalem. Why didn't each one weep over his own misfortune?  
     A similar reaction occurs when we witness the destruction of a fellow Jew's personal Holy Temple. 
     A Jew weeps when he sees his brother destroying his inner Sanctuary, yet he does not weep when he destroys his own. Why is that?  
     The answer is that crying cannot rebuild. Crying lessens the pain, but cannot fix what was destroyed.  
     When a person destroys his own inner Temple, no amount of weeping can ever rebuild it. Instead, he should perform actual deeds, for "one positive action is worth a thousand sighs." Only mitzvot can reconstruct the ruined Sanctuary.  
     When a person sees another Jew's  Temple lying in ruins it makes him sad. 
But he cannot help the other individual, as rectifying the situation is not in his hands.  
     He may empathize and offer practical suggestions, but the other person has to do the actual work; only he can correct his misdeeds.  
Joseph and Benjamin realized that lamenting their own sorrows would yield no practical benefit. 
     Each brother would have to exert his own efforts to rebuild, by observing mitzvot and performing acts of goodness.  
     Let each of us rebuild the Sanctuary in our hearts, and together we will merit the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, that will never be destroyed. 

(Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; Material on this page reprinted from - LYO / NYC)