19 Tamuz 5779 / Monday, July 22, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
 
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Awakenings



Depressed? Well, you shouldn’t be. These seemingly negative situations will actually bring about the awakenings in the Jewish People and humanity in general…

 



“He [Hashem] was standing behind our wall, observing through the windows, peering through the lattices.  My Beloved called out and said to me: Arise my fair one, and go forth. For the winter of bondage has passed, the deluge of suffering is over and gone.”  [Shir Ha Shirim/Song of Songs]

 

Mashiach can’t come until the Jewish People are ready. Until we reject the values of the gentile nations, throw off the artificial, outer garments of their ideologies and through inner contemplation and personal choice embrace the Torah anew, we are left with an existential dissonance.  What is the central character trait that allows us to achieve our redemption and spiritual destiny?  Humility.  Where do we get humility from?  First, fear of Heaven and feeling that I am not in control.  Then, an awareness that  while I have my role to play everything, all my talents, come from Hashem.  Giving myself over to Hashem ultimately gives me more than I could achieve on my own.

 

Humanity is experiencing astonishing upheavals.  It could be seen as quite depressing, if not frightening.  However, we know that before the messianic age, the world will indeed experience tremendous upheavals.  Everything will be turned on its head; all the old, safe, albeit not necessarily true, foundations will be dismantled. The Torah sources say that deep wisdom will be missing.  Hashem sends us all these sufferings in order to bring us to this state of humility, to be able to look inward and upward, to Him.

 

Looking at all the recent happenings in the world, whether they directly affect the Jewish People, Israel or the world at large, one gets the impression that both Jews and Gentiles are searching for answers and rejecting the establishment.

 

The old Jew hatred is resurfacing all over the place in different forms. Whether it’s tampering with the Jewish holistic approach to education – chinuch – which emphasizes attachment to Hashem and Torah wisdom primarily and secular wisdom secondarily or opposing ritual slaughter and other such things, not to mention the rise of anti-Semitism among the political establishment. 

The political systems are being dismantled as we speak.  The most unlikely personalities are being propelled onto the world’s political stages in countries that tend to be politically stable and predictable.

 

People want to be heard, want to be led, want honesty and integrity even though what’s on offer politically at the moment around the globe will not provide the answer. The populist vote seems to be on the move.

 

Depressed?  Well, you shouldn’t be.  These seemingly negative situations will actually bring about an awakening among the Jewish People and humanity in general and I believe we are starting to see signs of it, particularly in Israel.  Just recently, several articles appeared which together seemed, at least to me, to suggest that an undercurrent of change is taking place, despite what certain Israeli governmental bodies and the media would have you believe.

 

This past Lag B'Omer in Meron, over 600,000 people attended the celebrations at the grave of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, the expounder of the mystical books of the Torah.  I don’t know exactly how many people came but just think about it - that is a massive amount of people coming together to connect spiritually, whether they consider themselves religious or not.

 

In Tel Aviv, restaurants are taking pork off the menu because Israelis are refusing to eat in the restaurants that serve it.  For someone who eats only kosher food now, it may not sound like a spiritual revolution but actually it could very well be the start of one.

 

A friend told me that when she went to Tel Aviv a few years ago she was very surprised at how many religious communities/synagogues, packed with people, she found.  And Tel Aviv is supposed to be bastion of secularism.

 

Jews born in Israel tend to become religious very quickly.  The holiness of the Land seems to accelerate their teshuva, unlike those of us born outside Israel.

 

Recent surveys suggest that most Israelis take part in a Seder and fast on Yom Kippur.

 

Women of the Wall and the Reform movement are not gaining significant popularity amongst Israelis despite being given political credence.

 

Even members of a Christian missionary group which deceives Jews into thinking they can be both Jewish and Christian have began defecting from their organization because of the knowledge of Torah they have acquired.  Apparently they are queuing up to convert to Judaism!

 

We tend to look at the negative, and perhaps there is a lot to feel despair over, but as believing Jews, it is our obligation to internalize the fact that Hashem will protect us and redeem us, and to be positive and make the best effort we can.

 

The Jewish People are truth seekers.  We may have allowed ourselves to go astray but ultimately we despise and reject falsehood.  We are descendants of Jacob whose central character trait was truth – emet.

 

The Ramchal, Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, says that in the End of Days Hashem will make an opening of spiritual light which will allow Jews to return to Him but only through personal reflection and free will.  At some point that opening will close and will not be opened again until after Mashiach comes, at which point free will is going to be very limited.  Many authorities suggest that the teshuva movement of Jews returning to Torah is evidence of this.

 

Hashem is peering through the lattices; He is ready but He is waiting for us.





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