Sunday, April 22, 2007

Yom Haatsmaout: Stop Praying, Start Acting

I wrote this pretty quickly because of exams.
In a very interesting drasha, Chazal point out that each day of pessah always fall on the same day of the week as one of the holidays of the year. In what is even more interesting, they point out that this can be seen through the mechanism of “At Bash” where the first letter of the alphabet (aleph) is matched with the last letter (tav), the second letter (beit) matched to the second to last (shin) etc…
So, they explain:
Alef - Taf: Tisha B'av will always fall on the same day as the first day of pessah. This year, pessah started on Monday night, so tisha beav will start on Monday night.Bet - Shin: Shavuot – Shavuot will be on Tuesday nightGimmel - Resh: Rosh Hashana – Rosh Hashana on Wednesday NightDalet - Kuf: Kriat Hatorah (Simchat Torah) – Simchat Torah on Thursday NightHey - Tzadi: Tzom (Yom Kippur) – Yom Kippur on Friday Night…Vav - Pay: Purim – Purim on Saturday Night, Motsei Shabbat.

These are more then simple combinations. There is a deep connection between the first day of pessah, where we tend to remember avdut more, and the day of tisha beav. And this is true for each combination.

However, Chazal did not speak of the 7th day of pessah which is also the last day of pessah in the Real Jewish Calendar which is followed in Erets Israel. I have heard many times that while the first days of pessah speak of the past redemption, the last speak of the redemption to come. Therefore, I think the reason chazal did not find the combination of the 7th day of pessah is because it was not yet to be found. However, Ashrenu Shezarichinu Lihyot Bedorenu ! We are so lucky to live in our generation where our redemption is unfolding !

Rav Mordechai Elon Shli”ta once told us in a shiur, that the 7th night of Pessah, the zayin, corresponds in at bash, to the ayin – The 7th night of Pessah will always fall on the same day of the week as Yom Haatsmaout! This Year, Yom Haatsmaout, the fifth of Iyar (the regular day for Yom Haatsmaout) will fall on a Sunday night!

What is the connection between Yom Haatsmaout and the 7th Night of Pessah? Let us first find out what happened on the Shevii Shel Pessah:
On Shevii Shel Pessah, Am Israel had just gotten out of Egypt. Pharo started chasing after them and Am Israel was stopped in front of the red sea and it seemed like it would be the end of Am Israel. Moshe starts praying to God and the midrash says God yells back at him: “This is not a time to pray!”. Not a time to pray? Prayer is so valuable to Judaism how could it not be a time to pray? Then, Nachshon Ben Aminadav, not Moshe Rabenu but Nachshon, jumps in the sea, and the sea splits.

Let us try to better understand how God could ask us not to pray! In Massechet Ketubot, in the famous passage about the 3 vows, Rashi has 2 different editions of a part of the gemara. On one of the editions, it says that the Jews promised “lo leharchik et haketz”, not to make the end of times further away. Rashi explains that this would happen through sins and bad actions. On the other edition, it says that the Jews promised “Lo Lidhok Et Haketz”, not to make the end of times closer! Now, the anti Zionists like to take this as a reason to say Zionism is bad because it tries to bring mashiach early, however, even before going through the 100 reasons why they are wrong, lets read rashi a bit further and see how he defines bringing mashiach earlier. Rashi says we should not exaggerate with our prayers and pray too much.

Once again, we see God telling us not to pray. This is very shocking when we know how important prayers are in Judaism. Is there a connection between both instances?

I think the answer lies in a Gemara in Massechet Sanhedrin. The Gemara says: “Zachu, Ahishena, Lo Zachu, Beita”. If we merit it, the gueoula will come before its time. If we do not merit it, it will come in its time. There are two ways the gueoula could come: “Hayom Im Bekolo Tishmaou”, today if we follow mitsvot, through amazing miracles, or through a natural process in its pre-defined time.

Now we can understand the gemara in Ketubot. Rashi’s two editions apply to the different ways in which the gueoula could come: If we merit it, it will come before its time – therefore, we are forbidden to make it come later by sinning and not doing mitsvot. If we do not merit it, it will come in its time, through a natural process. In that case, we are forbidding to keep praying too much, because instead of praying, we need to take our hands and build homes in Jerusalem, take our hands and fight in the IDF in order to bring sovereignty to the Jewish People. If it comes through natural means, while we still need to pray, we should not pray too much, because we also need to act.

This is why Moshe was told to stop praying. Yetsiat Mitsrayim, even though there were amazing miracles, based on Rashi was considered a time in which the gueoula came “in its time”. As such, instead of continuously praying for a solution, all Moshe had to do was go in the water for the sea to split. The gueoula is on its way, just do your part! Stop Praying Too much!

We are extremely lucky to live in a generation which has seen the return of the Jewish People to the land of Israel. In 1948, on Yom haatsmaout, Am Israel was once more in a state of redemption “in its time”. While part of Am Israel decided to stay in shtetels and yeshivot and pray for the mashiach, another part of Am Israel decided to act. True, unfortunately, the part of Am Israel which decided to act Left the yeshivot instead of bringing the yeshiva with them in their actions, but the fact is they decided to Act. On Yom Haatsmaout, Ben Gurion was told that if he declared the independence of the State of Israel, all arab armies would come and throw the Jews in the Sea. And really, who could stop them? The Jews hardly had tanks! But Ben Gurion had some faith deeply hidden inside of him, maybe without even knowing it. He, as a leader of Am Israel, was now connected to God and his decisions became Godly. He decided to Act. The time for redemption has come, it is time to jump in the sea for it to split. He declared the state of Israel and, miraculously, Am Israel defeated the Arab Armies and the State of Israel was established.

Yom Haatsmaout and Shevii Shel Pessah, are thus deeply connected.

2 generations later, we are still moving slowly in the process of redemption. The question we need to ask ourselves now is what are we doing to make this process move forward? How are we making the destiny of Am Israel move forward? How are we connection ourselves to this klal and making sure the gueoula which is unfolding will keep moving forward quicker and quicker. We’re in crunch time guys, we mamash are in crunch time. Everything around us is moving so quickly. Most of Am Israel has returned to Erets Israel on the back of eagles called El Al. The only spot in Jerusalem left to build is Har Habayit. The Israeli public has become disillusioned from its political leadership and is looking for real, messianic leadership! There is only one small 200 meter wide sea to split.

Rav Elon many times told us that in 1967, when the paratroopers for to Har Habayit and liberated the kotel, Moti Gur, the general at the time, said: “Har Habayit Beyadenu!”. However, lets ask ourselves, is har habyit really in our hands? Maybe, maybe not, who know… Maybe Moti Gur was saying something much deeper. Whether he knew what he meant or not doesn’t matter, but maybe, what Moti Gur was saying is: “God, you brought to erets Israel from all around the world, you brought us to Jerusalem, you even brought us to the Kotel! We are 200 meters away, why do you not build the bet hamikdash! Why stop here? But I think I understand… You brought us to Israel through miracles. You brought us to Jerusalem, through miracles. You even brought us to the Kotel through Miracles. Har Habyit: It is in out hands…. Only through our actions will we build the beit hamikdash”.

If the Beit hamikdash was destroyed through sinat chinam, it will only be rebuilt with ahavat chinam. Rav Kook thought that ahavat chinam starts with the realization that everybody in the Jews People shares a common soul which is chelek eloka mimaal mamash. When we realize that, we realize the importance of connection to Klal Israel, to Am Israel. We live in the most critical time of Jewish History. It is our time to act. And we need to seriously think what our role in Am Israel will be.
Will we live a life of the klal, working day after day to move am Israel closer to gueoula through limmud torah, binyan erets Israel etc… Or will we live a life of the prat, a life of us as individuals, where our individual success will be more important than this amazing, incredible unfolding event happening to am Israel called the Mashiach.
Ben Gurion made his choice, and even if many criticize many of his actions, he made the right choice. Nachshon Ben Aminadav made his choice and it was the right choice. Now, it is our time to chose! Klal or Prat, Acts of courage for the good of the nation or Simple individual religious Tfillah on the sidelines of the real action. Am Israel, or my individual self. The choice is yours. more...

1 comment:

Shai said...

It is time to act. It is time to rise.

Thank you Dan for making this obvious!