Illuminating the Exile

Daily Torah learning at Oro Shel Adam Yeshiva for Olim is as strong as ever.

In addition to daily learning in our Beit Midrash, Olim and IDF Lone Soldiers are encouraged to join us each Monday night’s for dinner at 7:20, maariv at 8 and a Torah class at 8:15.

In a recent Monday night class we discussed the topic of, “Illuminating the Exile.”  Below, is revision of the Torah lecture taught by the Head of the yeshiva, Rav Shalom Miller.

Large numbers of people maintain that the 20th of January, 2017 is among the dark days of “our exile.”  Time will tell exactly what Donald Trump becoming president will mean for the future of the United States, Israel and the entire world.  We can all agree, religious and non-religious that we find ourselves in an exile for one reason or another.

It is fitting that this Shabbot we will begin reading about the first exile, Galut Mitzrayim, the Egyptian Exile and as such begin a Sefer in the Torah and a new period in the Jewish calendar.

We face and have faced many dark times in our history, all starting with our national enslavement in Egypt some 3,500 years ago.  One can ask, what is it all for?  There is tremendous chillul Hashem or desecration of God’s name when we suffer on a national level.   Since we bear God’s name, כי שם ה’ נקרא עליך, as the chosen people, God’s name is defiled when Jews are afflicted, attacked, tortured, murdered and gassed.  There must be a meaningful reason for painful exile, suffering and desecration of God”s name.  What is it all for?

Rav Eliyahu Dessler ZT”L, one of the Torah giants in the previous generation teaches a fundamental concept about understanding galut.  Based on a Rashi in Gemara Yoma 86a, Rav Dessler writes in “Michtav Me’eliyahu” that when a righteous person is punished it creates a dichotomy.  On the one hand the world looks at the situation in shock and disbelief.  According to their understanding they conclude that there is “no judgment and no judge” and everything seems to be a product of a happenstance reality.  This creates a general feeling of concealment of the honor of Hashem.

However, the righteous person well understands why he or she was punished.  A Tzaddik scrutinizes their behavior and uses the punishment to learn how they might be able to draw closer to Hashem.

“The world is filled with wicked people that will learn the opposite of what is meant to be learnt,” writes Rav Dessler, “while the tzaddik stands alone in his profound perception of what occurred.  Myriads of people and their disbelief are pushed aside in order for the one righteous person to do his Teshuva.”

We learn this from none other than Avraham Avinu.  There were ten generations from Noach to Avraham and those generations angered God immensely.  Ten generations of chillul and desecration existed and then they were “pushed off” for the possibility that one a tikkun could come through Avraham.  He saw a world in a status of destruction, opposed it and then replaced it with pure faith and worship for himself, his family and generations to come.

In the merit of one righteous person the world stands.

We often say to ourselves, what good are we?  What good is our Torah and Mitzvot in a world so backwards and so dark.  We must remind ourselves time and time again that we have no understanding of the derech (path) of our Creator.  We have no way to measure the true value or significance of our behavior and light that we bring to the world.  Instead of becoming weak, it is incumbent on us to stand strong.  The universe stands waiting for us to make a Kiddush Hashem, like Avraham Avinu, in the wake of all of chillul and desecration that exists in our world.  If we squander the opportunity to do our part, the world really does lose its justification for existence.

If Donald Trump becoming president does prove to be the beginning of dark times, it must only be because we are being asked to turn inward, reflect and add increased levels of Kiddush Hashem to a temporary exile.

 

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