Shabbat Parashat Metzora| 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l
“You Shall Surely Know” – (condensed from Drasha of Shabbat Hagadol, 5705, 1945)
When Avraham Avinu first asked, “How will I know?” Hashem answered, “You shall surely know”- in the merit of the korbanot (sacrifices) (Rashi on Bereishit 15:6). Avraham’s question, which brought about the enslavement in Egypt, raises serious questions of our own. Why is it that when Avraham was told of the miracle of his bearing children he needed no proofs, but by the more natural idea that those children would inherit a land, his question seems to indicate a lack of faith?
When Moshe complained to Hashem about the deterioration in Bnei Yisrael’s condition since he started the geula (liberation) process, he did not doubt that the geula would come. Rather, he was questioning how valuable that fact was to the people who were still suffering or were still getting killed in the meantime (Shemot Rabba 5). How sweet could geula be when it left behind so many losses? To that, Hashem responded: “I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov with the name of Kel Shakai…” (Shemot 6:3). What does this mean?
There are two ways of looking at the relationship between Hashem and mankind: that He is the Creator and we are the creations; that He created us in His image and blew His spirit of life into our bodies. This duality makes Him, Avinu Malkeinu (our Father and King). “There was no one who called Hashem “adon” (Master) until Avraham did so (Berachot 7b). Avraham came to a realization of Hashem by contemplating nature and figuring out that there must be a master who ensures its running. If there is a physical logic to the running of the world, there must be a moral system of justice as well to it. This brought Avraham to ask, “Can it be that the Judge of the whole world will not do justice?” (Bereishit 18:25).
The second relationship is engendered in Hashem’s relationship with Bnei Yisrael, which goes well beyond His being a reliable master. We look to Hashem as a father, someone about whom there can be no questions that He is acting for our good no matter how bleak things look. “Even if He shall kill me, I shall look to Him” (Iyov 13:15). With that outlook, man becomes immortal. He cannot cease to exist because he believes in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the dead. The second promise that Avraham received and which he had difficulty accepting, was that he himself would inherit the land at the ends of days, not only his children. How could he come back after death?
The answer to Avraham was, “You shall surely know- in the merit of the sacrifices.” This is not referring to animal sacrifice, but the sacrifices of the Jewish nation throughout the generations in order to keep Hashem’s name known in the world. The sacrifice included the Ten Martyrs of Roman times and countless others over the centuries who were killed and burnt without provocation. [Ed. note- This was written when the destruction to European Jewry was known, but its magnitude was not yet known.] The enemy would often remain apparently unharmed and the mind and soul called out for an explanation of how that could be. The question is so great as to prove to any believer that life must continue after death, that those whose life was cruelly taken from them would still have the opportunity to “inherit the Land.” It was the paternal figure, not the image of master, that appeared to Moshe at the burning bush. Hashem assured Moshe that He was together with His sons in their time of anguish, and He would ensure that the righteous and the wicked would have their lots adjusted to conform to Divine Justice. They then, and Avraham previously, believed not only in Hashem but in the immortality of the soul which would experience that justice.
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