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Shabbat Parashat Chaye Sara| 5766

Moreshet Shaul

From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Redemption - Part I - From Perakim B’machshevet Yisrael, pp. 467-471
 Geula (redemption) and the days of Mashiach constitute a topic, which early rabbis, including the Rambam and Ramban, dealt with. This is despite the fact that the Rambam states: “All of these things and their like, man will not know how they will be until they will be.”
 R. Yehuda Halevi in the Kuzari stresses over and over the value of Eretz Yisrael as a special land, the land of prophecy. He speaks also of how the yearning for the land and going up to live there and to come together with its stones and earth are ways to hasten the geula. The Jewish People, while in exile, are like dry bones, kept somewhat moist only by past life and the hope for their rejuvenation that they maintain. However, when the Land will be brought back to life it will give new life to the dry bones and have them join together, prepared to accept a soul and live. This gives a palpable expression to that which Chazal said that inhabiting Eretz Yisrael is equivalent to all the mitzvot.
 R. S.R. Hirsch presents the most extreme approach in ignoring the value of resettling Eretz Yisrael, while believing in the stability of the stay in the Diaspora. He developed the outlook that the Jewish Nation had reached the position of good will and fortune in its exile. This was based on his belief that the progress that humanity had made would allow Jews a life of full rights as individuals among the nations. This, he felt, pushed off the need to try to attain a state with rights as a nation living on its own. On the contrary, if the point is to serve as role models to the world, it is counterproductive to live apart from the nations. A teacher can teach most effectively when he shares interests and goals with his students. And so the Jewish People is destined for dispersion among the nations. Only if they can form a nation whose existence is miraculous and conspicuously demonstrates the existence of Hashem is it worthwhile for them to exist as a separate entity. Rav Hirsch even comes to the perplexing position that the Second Commonwealth’s function was for Bnei Yisrael to strengthen their connection to the Torah in order to prepare them for the great dispersion of the last 2,000 years. The problem of the exile would be at times when they would deserve being downtrodden. However, when Bnei Yisrael’s sinful ways would be purified and they would merit rights of equality by and among the nations, they would be able to fulfill their job in an honorable fashion. Consequently, Rav Hirsch saw the struggle for equality in the Diaspora as a worthwhile enterprise and left the return to Zion entirely in Divine Hands.
 Events relating to the formation of the Zionist Movement and the establishment of the State of Israel have caused a change in the way people relate to the role of the return to Zion as a stage in geula and as an independent value in the pre-geula stages. There are great Torah scholars who saw the movement as a foreign force, since the inspiration of the movement came from the national struggles of other ethnic groups and because the movement’s major leaders were far from a life of fulfilling Torah and mitzvot. R. Elchanan Wasserman saw the movement as one more “-ism,” a conceptual form of idol worship, similar to Communism and other ideals to which many in the Bnei Yisrael “bowed down” and were left disappointed. According to this approach, we should view the emergence of the State of Israel as another trial of the period that precedes the coming of Mashiach, since it came as part of a battle based on a fundamentally secular, national outlook, antagonistic to the principles of Judaism. “Hashem returns many Jews to Eretz Yisrael and they take control of it, with those who throw off the yoke of Torah boasting that they did the matter with their strength and bravery… this is the last and most difficult trial of the time of the exile of the Divine Spirit” (from Michtav Me’Eliyahu).
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.

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