12 Kislev 5781 / Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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Shabbat HaGadol, 5772    

Shabbat HaGadol, 5772

Will Israel attack Iran? Will Iran dare a preemptive strike? Can the USA be trusted? Is there a massive world upheaval on the way? What can we do?


This coming Shabbat is known as Shabbat HaGadol, the great Shabbat. Here in Israel, we feel the tension and excitement of a massive upheaval that's about to take place with world-shaking ramifications.
Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak shlit'a said a month ago that war would break out before Pesach. Will Israel attack Iran? Will Iran dare a preemptive strike? Can the USA be trusted?
Ask these questions to Rav Shalom Arush, and he'll smile patiently. None of these things concern us. In fact, they sidetrack us from what we should be doing – preparing for Shabbat HaGadol, doing teshuva and cleaning the garbage out of our souls as well as out of our houses, and preparing for Pesach.
Shabbat HaGadol is symbolic of dedication in performing a mitzvah and spiritual emancipation.
The Midrash Rabbah tells us that when the Jewish people set aside their Pascal lamb on the 10th of Nissan, the Shabbat before the Exodus from Egypt, the Egyptian first-borns gathered near the Israelites and asked them why they were doing this. The Israelites responded, “This is a Pesach offering to G-d who will kill the firstborn Egyptians.” They (the firstborn) went to their fathers and to Pharaoh to request that they grant permission to send the Jewish people free – but they refused. A civil war enfused, and many  Egyptians were killed.
The above Midrash is age-old proof that whenever Israel performs a mitzvah with dedication, Hashem fights our battles for us. Rav Shalom implores us all not to worry about a thing and just spread emuna. Look how right he is! The Supreme Ayatolla is at odds with Achmedinejad. Hamas is back to bickering with the Fatah and is no longer aligned with Iran. Syria is falling apart at the seams. None of this has been the result of Israeli prowess or strategy; it's all from Hashem! So let's stop worrying and get on with cleaning cabinets and spreading emuna books and CDs!
Rebbe Yaacov, the holy Tur teaches us that the lamb was the Egyptian deity. Many Jews, after 210 years of immersion within Egyptian civilization, had also adopted this animal as their god. When G-d commanded that a lamb be set aside and tied to the bed for four days in anticipation of sacrifice, the Jewish people abandoned their idolatrous practice and courageously fulfilled this mitzvah right out in the open within eyeshot of the fuming Egyptians, thereby demonstrating their complete trust and faith in G-d. Nothing could have been more abominable to the Egyptians, for their god was to be slaughtered. Nevertheless, miraculously the Egyptians were unable to utter a word or lift a hand. They watched helplessly as their god was being prepared for slaughter. This miracle was a great miracle gives this coming Shabbat its name.
How many of our brethren in 200 of Western Diaspora have adopted American “idols” as their own? Why do so many Israeli kids – untaught in emuna and unaware of the holiness of our language – say “hi” and “bye” instead of shalom and l'hitraot? Why should Superbowl Sunday be more important to a Jew than Shabbat HaGadol? There's no difference between the socially-acceptable sports idols, rockstar idols, and cinema idols than there is between any other form of idolatry, like Egypt's lamb. The week of Shabbat HaGadol is the opportune time to do some real soul-searching and to make sure there's no little concealed idolatrous concept or outlook deep down in our hearts. Idolatry, like chametz, is forbidden at any level. Cleansing ourselves of the foreign influences that have attached themselves to us during the long years of exile is our real task before Pesach.
What the Iranians or the Americans will do doesn't concern us. My heart cries for any Jew who places even minimal trust on anything or anyone except Hashem. Our actions this week – dedication in preparing for Pesach, cleaning our domains inner and outer, and strengthening our emuna will tip the scales for the very best.
Allow me to humbly disagree with the doomsday scenarios. We'll do our job and Hashem will do His. We'll see big miracles. Iran won't be able to touch a hair on a Jewish head. Hashem will fight our battles in wondrous ways. We need no guarantees from foreign leaders. Let's get back to doing what a Jew is supposed to do – baking matzoth, helping the poor, and making sure that every orphan and widow is taken care of on Passover – and leave the rest up to Hashem. Once we do our task faithfully, Hashem will fulfill His promise faithfully, by bringing us the full redemption of our people and Moshiach Tzidkeinu speedily in our days, amen!

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