“EIM HABANIM SEMEICHAH” – INTRODUCTION

"The purpose of this work is to raise our Land from the dust and stimulate love and affection for it in the hearts of our Jewish brethren, young and old alike, so that they may yearn and strive to return to our Land, the Land of our forefathers, and leave the lands of exile.  The Midrash states this explicitly, “It is preferable to dwell in the deserts of Eretz Yisrael than the palaces of the Diaspora” (BeReishit Rabbah 39:8).

“Eim HaBanim Semeicha” by HaRav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal

Translated by Rabbi Moshe Lichtman. For other writings and books by Rabbi Lichtman, please see the website: https://toratzion.com/about

SECOND INTRODUCTION

The Destruction of European Jewry

With a broken spirit, I speak of the destruction of my people[1] which has befallen us in our days.  The exile has overwhelmed us and become a virtual prison – the one misfortune which encompasses all others, as it is written, Whoever is [destined] for death, to death; whoever for the sword, to the sword; whoever for famine, to famine; and whoever for captivity, to captivity (Yirmiyah 15:2).  The Talmud explains that each fate mentioned in this verse is worse than its precursor, for captivity includes all the previous fates (Bava Batra 8b, see Rashi).  The pride of Israel has been cut down.  In our entire history there has never been such calamity.

True, there have been difficult periods for Israel in the past, but only in distinct isolated areas, and our ancestors were able to find refuge elsewhere.  Misfortune on such an extensive and widespread scale, however, has never befallen us; except in the days of the wicked Haman, when a general decree was issued against the entire holy nation, and the gates of all countries were closed to them (see Midrash Esther Rabbah 7).  Now too, Europe – which has always been the center for the Jews, and from which all of the gedolim and wise men of the last hundred years have emerged  – has been utterly destroyed.  Raze it, raze it, to its very foundations (Tehillim 137:7).  There is nowhere to escape, for all of the nations have closed their gates to us.  They are completely sealed; no one leaves and no one enters.[2]

 

I   The Factors That Prompted the Writing of This Volume

  1. Our present-day afflictions preclude ordinary Torah study

Now that we have encountered unwanted days,[3] my mind is preoccupied with the troubles of the generation.  I am, therefore, unable to delve into ordinary halachic matters, as has been my practice since my youth, since such study requires clarity.[4]  Moreover, the storms of exile which have assaulted us, have banished the yeshiva from my house of study.  For on the bitter day when the pogroms spread among the people and trampled all that was holy, yeshiva students were evicted from their study halls.  I remained alone, isolated with my thoughts on the present-day destruction of the people and communities of Israel.  Why has the Lord done this?[5]  What is the meaning of this terrible anger?[6]

Thus, I decided to examine the history of our people during its 2000 years in the tumultuous pit of destruction and exile amidst the lands of the nations.  I have never dealt with these types of questions; since my youth I have always been implanted in the house of God, hidden and concealed in the four cubits of halachah.  HaShem (may He be blessed) has graciously allowed me to learn, teach, and author works which have been well received and praised by the great scholars of the generation.[7]  I never took the time to concern myself with matters affecting the welfare of our holy nation, for this is a mitzvah that can be fulfilled by others.  [I, therefore, felt] that one could apply the verse All your desires cannot compare to it [the Torah] (Mishley 3:15), and that one should not neglect Torah-study on its account.[8]  Now, however, amidst this great upheaval, it is impossible to concentrate on the discussions of Abaye and Rava and complicated halachot.  My students have been driven away from me, and I have no one with whom to discuss halachic matters.

 

  1. The time for redemption has come

Thus, I have been aroused to ask this question:  It says in Daniel (12:6), How long until the wondrous end?  Are we not yet close to the eve of the sixth day, about which is written, It shall come to pass that at evening time, there will be light (Zecharyah 14:7)?  Rashi there explains that prior to the end of the millennium there will be a glorious light.  In addition, a hymn that we recite on Rosh HaShanah alludes to the time when this will occur:  “When the sun turns westward two parts, it is the time when the lights grow dim.  So too, prior to the onset of evening, light will sprout forth for the upright, and it shall come to pass at evening time there will be light for the perfect.”[9]

It appears to me that we have already reached this stage, # yet Mashiach has not yet arrived.  There certainly must be some obstacle preventing our redemption from this bitter exile.  Therefore, we must ponder this matter and identify this obstacle so that we may remove it from our path.  We will, thus, pave the way for our righteous Redeemer [Mashiach] who will arrive speedily in our days to deliver us from distress and raise the Shechinah from the dust.  Thus, with the help of He who grants man knowledge, I have decided to investigate this matter to the best of my limited abilities.

#              I subsequently discovered in a commentary on Tana DeVei Eliyahu, called Tosafot Ben Yechiel,  that we have actually reached this stage.[10]

 

  1. One must care for the needs of Israel

Furthermore, I recalled the statement of Chazal cited in Reishit Chochmah:

He who is proper and fears sin should not refrain from being involved in the needs of Israel…  He should share their burden and suffer with them in times of trouble.  He who acts in this manner sustains the world, as it is written, Through justice the king establishes the land (Mishley 29:4).  On the other hand, he who refrains from sharing their burden and repairing their breaches, acting as if he was terumah separated from the dough, destroys the world, as it is written, But a man set aside (ish terumot) destroys it (ibid.).  The story is told about Rabbi Abahu:  When he was about to depart this world, the Sages of Israel entered and found him weeping.  They said to him: “Why are you crying?  All of your life you toiled in Torah.  You taught so many disciples.  Moreover, you even had a special quality; you did not engage in legal disputes.”  He replied:  “That is exactly why I am crying, for I did not share the burden of Israel.  Thus, I epitomized the verse But a man set aside destroys it.” #  (Midrash Tanchuma, Mishpatim 2)[11]

#              That is to say,  he separated himself from caring for the needs of Israel, like terumah which is separated from the rest of the wheat.

Thus, Chazal obligate us to be concerned with the plight of the Jewish people and to care for their needs even during normal times, when everything proceeds naturally and peace and tranquillity reign in the world.  How much more so must every Jew fulfill this obligation during times such as these when the pride of Israel has been disgraced and cut down,[12] when Jews wallow in the dirt, when they have become scorned and degraded, and when they and their possessions have become abandoned as fish of the sea.  Certainly, there is a manifold obligation upon every Jew to care for their needs, to be concerned with their condition, to help the Jewish people in any way possible, and, using his God-given wisdom, to show them the way that they can escape from their distress.

Our master Rabbi Moshe Cordovero writes in Tomer Devorah, that one must think constructively on behalf of all of Israel, for their benefit.[13]  Also see Ya’arot Devash on the blessing “Return our Judges.”  The author discusses the obligation of the leaders to think constructively on behalf of all of Israel.  He writes that all of the hardships that befall Israel are due to improper leaders.[14]

 

The purpose of this volume

This is what inspired me to examine the perseverance of the exile and, with God’s help, to author this work.  I intend to publicly express my opinion, to teach and advise our people, the Children of Israel, how to hasten the future redemption, speedily in our days.  I have accepted this upon myself as a vow in times of trouble, as I explained above in the first introduction.[15]

Thus, since it is prohibited to delay fulfillment of a vow taken in times of distress,[16] and since I have enjoyed some respite ever since arriving to the capital,[17] I have begun to write a volume on the rebuilding of our Holy Land.  The purpose of this work is to raise our Land from the dust and stimulate love and affection for it in the hearts of our Jewish brethren, young and old alike, so that they may yearn and strive to return to our Land, the Land of our forefathers, and leave the lands of exile.  The Midrash states this explicitly, “It is preferable to dwell in the deserts of Eretz Yisrael than the palaces of the Diaspora” (BeReishit Rabbah 39:8).

 

II   The Purpose of Our Afflictions is to Arouse Us to Return to Eretz Yisrael

Furthermore, the sole purpose of all the afflictions which smite us in our exile is to arouse us to return to our Holy Land.  This can be inferred from the story of King David and the plague, when God sent him Gad the prophet.  And Gad came to David…and said to him, “Go up and establish an alter to the Lord” (II Shmuel 24:18).  The Midrash explains:

This can be likened to a father who beat his son, but the son did not know why he was being punished.  After the beating, the father said, “For several days I have been commanding you to do something, and you have ignored me.  Now go and do it!”  So too, the thousands who fell in the days of David died only because they did not demand the building of the Beit HaMikdash.  From this we can derive a kal vachomer.  If they, in whose days the Beit HaMikdash was neither built nor destroyed, were punished for not having demanded its construction; then we, in whose days the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed…, certainly [deserve punishment], for we do not mourn nor supplicate.  (Midrash Tehillim 17)

Rashi on Hoshea (3:5) cites the following:

  1. Shimon ben Menassiya said: “The Jewish people will not be shown a good sign until they once again request the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of the House of David, and the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash. As it is written, Afterwards, the Children of Israel will return and seek out the Lord their God and David their king…(ibid.).”

In truth, our desire to return to Eretz Yisrael encompasses these three elements.  Firstly, “He who dwells in Eretz Yisrael is like one who has a God” (Ketuvot 110b).  Also, the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash will occur (with God’s help) when we assemble in Eretz Yisrael, as explained in Megillah (17b-18a).  Afterwards, Mashiach, who represents the kingdom of the House of David, will arrive, as I will demonstrate in this volume.[18]  First and foremost, though, we must strive to return to Eretz Yisrael and then, with God’s help, we will attain these three objectives.

 

We only truly cling to God in Eretz Yisrael

The Tosefta comments on the verse And I will truly implant them in this Land [with all My heart and with all My soul] (Yirmiyah 32:41):

If they are not upon the Land, they are not truly implanted before Me, neither with all My heart nor with all My soul.  (Tosefta, Avodah Zarah 5:4)

It is striking that the Holy One blessed be He says that when the people of Israel are not in Eretz Yisrael they do not cling to His heart and soul.  Therefore, we should not be astonished by what has happened to us in our times, or by the lack of Divine Providence that we are experiencing, for we live in the lands of the nations, and we do not cling to God’s entire heart and soul.  However, when we strive to return to Eretz Yisrael, we will immediately cling to His entire heart and soul.

 

One who strives to go to Eretz Yisrael is considered as if he is already there

The Kuzari explains that even though Chazal say that the Shechinah does not reside outside the Land (Mo’ed Kattan 25a), it did rest upon Yechezkel, because he prophesied for the sake of Eretz Yisrael.[19]  Rabbeinu Chayim, the brother of the Maharal of Prague, expresses a similar idea in his Sefer HaChayim.  He writes that even though we maintain that those who die outside the Land will be resurrected only after suffering the pain of rolling through underground tunnels, nonetheless, he who strives to move to Eretz Yisrael but dies outside the Land, will be spared this pain.  He is considered as one who resided in Eretz Yisrael and will, therefore, be resurrected in an upright position.[20]  Our master, the Mabit, concurs with this view in his work Beit Elokim.[21]

Thus, he who sets his eyes and heart upon moving to Eretz Yisrael is considered as if he is already there.  It follows, then, that if we dedicate our thoughts to return to our Holy Land we will immediately cling to God’s entire heart and soul.  His Divine Providence will keep a watchful eye over us to rescue us from our enemies and bring success to our endeavors.  We will go up joyously to Zion, and the Children of Israel will go forth with a high hand[22] from both physical and spiritual exile.  HaShem will renew our spirit so that we will yearn to serve Him completely by fulfilling the Torah and mitzvot, as written in His holy Torah.

 

We must take the first step and then God will assist us

The essential point is that HaShem is waiting for us to take the initiative, to desire and long for the return to Eretz Yisrael.  He does not want us to wait for Him to bring us there.  Therefore, He told us, And I will truly implant them in this Land.  That is to say,  when we, on our own volition, truly and with all of our strength, desire and strive [to return to the Land], then God will complete the work for us beneficially.

The Zohar writes in a similar vein.  Although King Shlomo’s Temple was erected miraculously, the Holy One blessed be He waited for our initiative and only then did He complete the edifice (Zohar 1:74a).  The same is true of settling Eretz Yisrael.  We must endeavor with all of our strength and to the best of our abilities, and then HaShem will complete our handiwork.  May the pleasantness of the Lord be upon us so that our handiwork be established and successful.[23]

When David consults with the people of Israel, it says, And David said to the entire Congregation of Israel, “If it seems good to you and to the Lord our God, let us send abroad to our remaining brethren in all the lands of Israel” (I Divrei HaYamim 13:2).  One might ask, why did David place the people of Israel before HaShem…when the [Mishnah] at the end of Yadayim (4:8) forbids this?  It seems to me that the answer lies in Rashi’s comment:  “David said to them, ‘You have already occupied yourselves with your own self-improvement, now occupy yourselves with God’s honor.’ ”  That is, the advice was to act for God’s honor and restore the holy ark to Jerusalem.  But, David wanted to begin with Israel, rather than God, in order to arouse them.  Since God’s honor was involved it was proper for the awakening to come from Israel first.  Afterwards, assistance would come from above…  This teaches that regarding any godly matter, man must perform the initial act and afterwards he will receive assistance from above.

The brilliant and holy rabbi who resembles an angel of the Lord of Hosts, our honorable R. Eliyahu, Av Beit Din of Greiditz, concurs.

Furthermore, human intellect dictates that we initiate the process of redeeming the Land, and then HaShem will complete it.  One must understand the great importance of this matter, for the evil forces (kelipah) gain strength even among the most righteous individuals, in order to nullify this good.  This is so because the kelipah’s entire strength depends on exile; when the exile dissolves, so will the kelipah, as the Talmud states in Sukkah.[24]

Thus, this holy Jew, whom the author of Nefesh Chayah calls “The holy rabbi who resembles an angel of the Lord of Hosts,” states explicitly that the reason there are tzaddikim who oppose this is because the kelipah has become strong within them.  It entices them to nullify this great matter which the Holy One blessed be He continuously longs for.  He longs for us to yearn to return to our forefathers’ inheritance, for every Jew has an obligation to strive to return to our Holy Land (as I will unequivocally prove from the words of Chazal, later on).[25]  In this way, we can bring the final redemption closer, speedily in our days.  Amen.

 

III   This Work is Intended Only for Those Who Seek the Absolute Truth

I must, however, make it quite clear that my words are intended for those Jews who wish to arrive at the absolute truth by way of halachic debate and dialogue.  For, the issue of the final redemption is also a matter of halachah, as Chazal demonstrate, “The word of the Lord (Amos 8:11) – this is halachahThe word of the Lord (ibid. 12) – this is the final redemption” (Shabbat 138b, Tana DeVei Eliyahu 16:11).  Thus, anything which concerns the final redemption is akin to ordinary halachic matters and requires a dialogue of scholars.[26]  This halachah should not differ from any other halachah in the Torah and must be discussed by scholars using proofs from our holy Torah to determine what course of action to take.  Why should the halachah of rebuilding the Land – which concerns the honor of HaShem, the holy nation, and the Holy Land – be less important than any other halachah in the Torah?  Therefore, one scholar builds [a proof] and the other refutes it until the matter becomes clear, as explained in the responsa of the Mabit.[27]

The Mabit, there, writes that the one who refutes must also bring proofs.  He cannot simply argue without support, using mere chatter.  The following are the words of our master, the Maharival, as cited by the Mabit:

Any scholar who wishes to criticize a decision rendered by a colleague who elucidated the reasons for his ruling, may not do so unless he too clarifies his opinion with valid arguments.  To merely chatter, however, and state that the law is not in accordance with the other’s view, is unacceptable.

 

Those who are biased or have ulterior motives will never concede to the truth

Therefore, those who have a predisposition on this matter will not see the truth and will not concede to our words.  All the evidence in the world will not affect them, for they are smitten with blindness and their inner biases cause them to deny even things which are as clear as day.  Who amongst us is greater than the spies?  The Torah testifies that they were proper individuals.[28]  Nonetheless, since they were influenced by their desire for authority, # they rejected the desirable Land and led others astray causing this bitter exile, as Chazal explain.[29]  Yehoshua and Calev began to argue with them and attempted to prove the authenticity of Moshe and his Torah.  They proclaimed, Let us ascend at once (BeMidbar 13:30).  They even brought lengthy arguments and proofs to show that Israel would succeed [in entering the Land], as Rashi states.  Nevertheless, they were unable to convince them [the spies], for the spies were prejudiced by hidden motives.

#  The Zohar[30] and the Shelah[31] explain that the spies were afraid that they would lose their positions of leadership upon entering Eretz Yisrael.

The same holds true in our times even among rabbis, rebbes and chassidim.  This one has a good rabbinical position; this one is an established Admor;[32] and this one has a profitable business or factory, or a prestigious job which provides great satisfaction.  They are afraid that their status will decline if they go to Eretz Yisrael.[33]  People of this sort are influenced by their deep-rooted selfish motives to such an extent that they themselves do not realize that their prejudice speaks on their behalf.

In my responsa, Mishneh Sachir,[34] I cite our holy master, a man of God, R. Yeshayah Muskat of Praga, in a eulogy for the brilliant R. Meir Shapira, Av Beit Din of Lublin.  He said that most of the time a person fools himself and thinks that he acts for the sake of Heaven, but in reality he is controlled by his deep-rooted motives, and even he does not realize it…  He brought a proof for this from the story of Avraham and Eliezer.  Divrei Chayim on Chanukah states that a person sees only what he wants to see.  Therefore, one who is prejudiced on a certain matter can no longer judge truthfully.  This is the reason the Torah prohibited a judge from taking a bribe. #

People of this sort will not be convinced to accept the truth, even if they are shown thousands of proofs from the Torah (just as occurred in the incident of Yehoshua, Calev, and the spies).  Therefore, this volume is intended only for those who wish to know the truth as it is; they will lend an attentive ear to my words.  I do not allege that you must accept my view.  Rather, I will provide halachic analysis.  Whoever wishes to refute me, let him come and refute, but only with absolute proofs from the words of Chazal, as I have done.  Then, I will debate him to the best of my God-given abilities.  But, those who come with mere fabrications, without any substantiation from Chazal, will be disregarded (as the above-mentioned Mabit indicates).

# The Divrei Chayim writes:

Any kindness performed by the “mixed multitude (eirev rav)” is done for their own benefit.  We clearly see that the rabbis, Chassidim, and laymen of this generation, for the most part, descend from the eirev rav (due to our many sins), and they want to rule over the masses.  All of their deeds are done for their own benefit, to receive honor or monetary gain.  Therefore, one should not associate with them, rather with those who truly serve God and sacrifice themselves for His name, not for their own selfish gains.[35]

Frightening!

Our master, a man of God, the Chatam Sofer writes similarly.

You should be aware of the expression of which I am fond:  “There is no Ya’akov who is unharmed by Lavan, and there are few Lavans who are harmed by Ya’akov.”  Guard this principle for it is true; consider it and you will find it accurate.  What I mean to say is, it is an established axiom that all Torah scholars and righteous individuals, referred to as “Ya’akov,” have adversaries who are referred to as “Lavan.”  However, very few of these wicked people will find themselves opposed by someone who can equal their deception, as Ya’akov did against Lavan.  You should know that many times I examined them [the “Lavans”] and concluded that one must guard himself from them and straighten out that which is crooked.  I also concluded that one must flee from the smallest of their deceptions, but I myself have stumbled at the greatest of them.  Not only is this true about the simpletons and the masses, but even Torah students and rabbis.  Anyone who does not speak truth in his heart and who is not guided by integrity and righteousness, should be avoided.  Remove your steps from his path.[36]

Now, if they wrote these things in their generation which, in truth, was still a knowledgeable generation, what are we to say in our generation?  How are we to answer them?

The Yerushalmi comments:

The same [distance] that exists between the Holy of Holies and the profane of profanes, exists between our generation and the generation of R. Yosi.  R. Yishmael the son of R. Yosi said, “The same [distance] that exists between gold and dirt, exists between our generation and my father’s generation.”  (Gittin 6 [end])

This demonstrates the extent to which the son’s generation dwindles and distances itself from that of the father.  If so, how far have we fallen from the generation of those holy ones [the Divrei Chayim and the Chatam Sofer]?  Yet, they wrote this about their generation.  What, then, can be said about ours?

 

IV   The Call of Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael

Jews who live comfortably in exile tend to disregard this call

In reality, this movement of aliyah – the ascension and return to Eretz Yisrael – is not a new one.  Since ancient times, great sages and tzaddikim have aroused themselves to this cause.[37]  However, since the Jews of those times enjoyed freedom and dwelt in exile peacefully and tranquilly, they did not listen to their divinely inspired words.

Rashi on Kiddushin (69b) states that those Jews who dwelt comfortably in the exile did not go up with Ezra to Eretz Yisrael.  Only the poor and dejected souls ascended with him.  Furthermore, Seder HaDorot cites our master the S’ma who saw the following in Ma’aseh Nissim by R. Eliezer of Virmyze (Worms), author of the Roke’ach.  Ezra sent letters to all of the Diaspora communities urging them to ascend with him to Eretz Yisrael.  One such letter arrived in the city of Worms in Germany.  The Jews residing there answered, “You may dwell in the great Jerusalem, we will dwell here in the small Jerusalem.”[38]  They said this because they were considered distinguished among the ministers and the Gentiles.  They were extremely wealthy and lived peacefully and tranquilly.  Seder HaDorot further cites the S’ma stating that this is why such terrible decrees have befallen the Jews of Germany – Worms in particular – more than any other community.  They settled there at the time of the destruction of the First Temple, but when Ezra asked them to return at the end of the seventy years, they refused.  Indeed, we see from the history of our people that all of the troubles and evil decrees have emanated from Germany, just like today.  It all stems from the sin of refusing to ascend with Ezra, which happened because they lived in exile peacefully and tranquilly.  This has always been the case; when Jews live comfortably in exile, they do not want to hear about aliyah to Eretz Yisrael.

 

During times of adversity, all should heed the call

Now, however, the Great Advisor and Mighty Doer,[39] Who is the cause of all causes, has, through His profound counsel,[40] caused all of our gentile neighbors to persecute us with harsh decrees.  It is no longer possible to remain here amongst them.  Every Jew would now be happy and fortunate if he were able to return to our Holy Land.  With love and affection he would heed the call of aliyah and ascend to Eretz Yisrael.

Seemingly, this explains the Midrash on the verse Draw me, we will run after You (Shir HaShirim 1:4).  Chazal comment, “Because You [God] incited my evil neighbors against me, we will run after You” (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:4:4).[41]  That is to say, for many years now we have lived in peace and harmony with our Gentile neighbors and suddenly they have turned into enemies and evil neighbors who persecute us.  This can only be because some force has incited them against us.  HaShem, through His profound counsel, has caused all of this to occur so that we will run after You to Eretz Yisrael, which immediately follows God.[42]  This, then, is the meaning of the Midrash:  From the fact that You incited my neighbors against me, I understand that we must run after You.  That is, we must run to Eretz Yisrael, which is “after” You.  Contemplate this for it is a true Torah interpretation.

In times like these, surely everyone will heed our call to ascend to Eretz Yisrael, as our master the Rosh writes, “My heart tells me that now is the time to rectify that which I have wanted to rectify for some time, because people will surely listen to me in such a difficult time as this.”[43]

 

All of our toil in foreign lands is for naught

The prophet Chaggai cries out:  And now, thus says the Lord of Hosts, “Consider your ways.  You have sown much, but bring in little; you eat without being satiated…you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and whoever earns wages earns for a bag with a hole.”  Thus says the Lord of Hosts, “Consider your ways” (Chaggai 1:5-7).   Rashi explains:

Consider your ways, meaning, your business.  You see that your labor achieves no blessing, as the verse says, You have sown much, but bring in little…and whoever earns wages earns for a bag with a hole.  Any profit you make perishes, just like one who places money in a pocket with a hole.

The prophet cautions us to pay attention to this matter, and he repeats his admonition – Thus says the Lord of Hosts Consider your ways – as a warning not to close our eyes to the fact that all of our toil is wasted in the hands of our enemies.

The Midrash indicates that this entire verse refers to those who refuse to ascend to Eretz Yisrael.

You find that when the Children of Israel were exiled to Babylonia, Ezra said to them,  “Ascend to Eretz Yisrael.”  They, however, did not want to go.  Ezra said to them, You have sown much, but bring in little; you eat without being satiated…you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and whoever earns wages, earns for a bag with a hole.  (Midrash Tanchuma, Tetzaveh 13)

Tzefanyah states, And I will punish the men who are settled on their lees, who say in their heart, “The Lord will not do good, nor evil.”  And their wealth will become a plunder, and their houses a desolation; they will build houses, but will not dwell in them; they will plant vineyards, but will not drink their wine (Tzefanyah 1:12-13).  Indeed all of this has occurred in our days in nearly all of the countries of Europe, because they disregard aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, as the Midrash Tanchuma demonstrates.

The brilliant Ya’avetz also bemoans our lack of interest in returning to and dwelling in Eretz Yisrael.  Since we subsist peacefully outside the Land, we imagine that we have already found a different Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem.  This caused great misfortune to the Jews who dwelt comfortably in Spain (and other lands), and they were expelled.  There is no remnant of the Jewish people left in that land.  HaShem is righteous, for they completely forgot that they were in exile, and they assimilated among the nations.  All of this has befallen us because we have neglected to return to our homeland – the Land of the Deer.[44]

 

The purpose of our misfortunes is to awaken us to heed the call of aliyah

This is also the cause of the troubles that our nation is experiencing here today.  My Beloved is knocking[45] to awaken our desire to return to our Land.  After all that has happened to us in these difficult times, there is no doubt that my words will fall upon fertile ground and awaken the hearts of our Jewish brethren in exile to long and yearn to return to the desirable Land of our forefathers.  They will realize that there is no blessing in all of their endeavors here in exile, for the fruits of their labor are snatched by Eisav.  Not only does he steal their money and property, but also their bodies, their very lives,  as is well known from all that is happening throughout Europe.  During such times, they will surely listen to me, as the words of the Rosh indicate (see above).

 

HaShem is delaying the redemption until Eretz Yisrael is rebuilt 

In the volume Hon Ashir, by the author of Mishnat Chassidim, I found a comment on the Mishnah “The Galilee will be destroyed” (Sotah 9:15).

It will become devoid of houses, as it says, And your cities will be a ruin (VaYikra 26:33).  In the year 5478 [1718], when HaShem granted me the privilege to ascend to Eretz Yisrael, to Safed in the Galilee (may it be rebuilt and established speedily in our days), I saw with my own eyes how this curse has come true.  Due to our many sins, it is completely filled with destroyed houses.  In the two years that I remained there, however, I was happy to see that, day by day, it was being rebuilt, thank God.  I claim that this is a sign of the imminent arrival of the Redeemer, for if he would come when Eretz Yisrael is in a state of ruin, there would be no place for the ingathered exiles to dwell.  We find the same idea with regard to our first entry into the Land.  Our Rabbis state that the Holy One blessed be He detained the people of Israel in the desert for forty years so that during this time the Land would regain its original strength.  The Amorites had destroyed and uprooted trees and buildings at the time of the exodus from Egypt, thinking that Israel would enter the Land immediately and find it destroyed.  When the Land was rejuvenated, God brought them in (Shemot Rabbah 20:16).  The same will happen (with HaShem’s help) when Mashiach arrives, may he come speedily in our days, for he will reveal himself first in this Land, as the Zohar states.[46]

I was awestruck by this discovery, for I saw in it a Heavenly response to the question I posed earlier[47] – how much longer until the wondrous end?  HaShem is detaining us in exile until Eretz Yisrael is rebuilt.  I learned this from the holy words of the author of Mishnat Chassidim who possessed Ruach HaKodesh and achieved revelations from Eliyahu HaNavi, as is well known.  Our master, the author of Divrei Chayim writes about him:  “It is fitting to rely upon Mishnat Chassidim, particularly since it is well known that his words are clear and unerring teachings of the Ari  z”l and his disciples, and the great early Kabbalists.  Therefore, one should not deviate nor detract from his words, for they are like fine flour.”[48] This testimony of our holy Rebbe of Tzanz sufficiently demonstrates the greatness of the Mishnat Chassidim.

Thus, the author of Mishnat Chassidim writes explicitly, “The same will happen when Mashiach arrives, may he come speedily in our days.”  That is to say, the Holy One blessed be He will delay the final redemption until our Land is built up with houses and trees.  Hence, when we see that Eretz Yisrael is being rebuilt, we can perceive this as a harbinger of redemption.  These are the words of the foremost Kabbalist of recent generations, whose every utterance was said with Ruach HaKodesh.  Who, then, in our days is noble or arrogant enough to disagree with him?

According to the assertion of this holy Kabbalist, the fact that in recent years a large portion of the Land has indeed been built up and has actually become fertile can be viewed as a sign of the redemption.  It is astonishing, therefore, that some of those who fear God’s word oppose this.  It has practically become repulsive and loathsome in their eyes.  This can only be explained according to the principle of the holy R. Eliyahu of Greiditz.[49]  That is, the kelipah has overcome them and compels them to hinder the redemption process, for the kelipah knows that with the rebuilding of the Land comes its own downfall.  Alternatively, they may have some selfish motive to remain here, as was the case with the spies, as I explained above.[50]

In any event, I have demonstrated to all of our fellow Jews in exile that now is the most opportune time to endeavor with all our strength to leave the foreign lands, return to our Holy Land, and strive to rebuild it.  In this way we will bring the coming of Mashiach closer, speedily in our days.  Amen.

 

V   The Reason for the Title of This Volume – Eim HaBanim Semeichah

I have entitled this work Eim HaBanim Semeichah (A Joyous Mother of Children) based on the Yerushalmi which refers to Eretz Yisrael as the mother of Israel, and the lands of exile as the stepmother (Berachot 2:8 [18b]).  Chazal also state that our mother Zion cries and laments over us when we are in exile and awaits our return to her bosom (see Pesikta Rabbati 27-32).

From my flesh I see God![51]  In the year 5702 [1942], before Pesach (Passover), the cursed oppressors issued the terrible decree to abduct young Jewish maidens in Slovakia age sixteen and older and deport them to an uninhabited, unknown land.  To this day, the fate of thousands of pure Jewish souls who were transported there is unknown.  May HaShem speedily take vengeance upon our oppressors on our behalf.  The camp of Israel was in a great state of panic.  I know of an incident in which a certain individual attempted to smuggle his young daughters over the border, to save them from this horrible trap.  It was the intermediary days of Pesach, and he promised his wife that he would send a telegraphed message from across the border informing her that he and his children had arrived safely.  The mother sat at home anticipating and longing for the moment that she would receive the good news – that they had crossed the border in peace and had reached safe refuge.  It happened, however, that before they crossed the border, the father and his daughters were seized and transported to a nearby village where they were placed in prison and where they remained for the duration of the Pesach holiday.  They were in great danger of being sent off immediately to an unknown place, for that was the punishment for someone who was caught attempting to escape; he would be deported to an unknown destination in a harsher manner than the other deportees.  In the meantime, his wife, the mother of the girls, was informed of the situation.  We can imagine the bitter emotions which overcame her.  Her joy at the prospect of deliverance was transformed into sorrow.  Her holiday became a time of mourning for her husband and daughters.  The entire holiday she sat crying endlessly.  Her entire world became dark.  It is impossible to describe the sorrowful state into which she fell from the time she became aware of her husband and daughters’ fate, for she knew what awaited them.

However, the brilliant, righteous, and pious Rabbi, a true self-sacrificing servant of HaShem, our master R. Shmuel David Unger (shlita), the Av Beit Din of Nitra, selflessly and vigilantly endangered his own life and labored until he redeemed these three captives with a large sum of money.  May he be remembered for the good.  On the last day of Pesach they were set free and permitted to return home unharmed and in peace.  The distraught woman was immediately informed, via telephone, that her husband and daughters were set free and that they would return home the next day – isru chag – unharmed and in peace.  It is needless to describe what sort of an effect this good tiding had upon the soul of this unfortunate woman.  From that moment on, she waited expectantly for the father and daughters to return home.  The following day, she was unable to restrain herself and wait for them inside the house.  Instead, she sat by the entrance of the courtyard and, with great anticipation, awaited the moment of their return.  When they arrived and she saw them, she burst into tears and overwhelmingly poured out all the emotions of her heart.  On account of the profuse outpouring of emotions, she was unable even to utter words of thanks to the Holy One blessed be He for the great miracle which He performed on their behalf.  He who did not witness this reunion – the mother reunited with her daughters after such a dreadful captivity, the tears of the mother when she saw that her daughters had returned to their borders,[52] the joy of the joyous mother of children[53] – has never witnessed true feelings of joy.  This is what I know about this incident which transpired in our days.[54]

I imagine that such will be the joy of our mother, Eretz Yisrael, when we all return to her bosom after the horrible captivity we now experience.  This is how I picture the wondrous joy that the mother will share with her children, that is, Eretz Yisrael with us and we with her.  Hence, I entitled this work Eim HaBanim Semeichah (A Joyous Mother of Children).  May HaShem grant me the merit that my book will impact the restoration of the children to their borders and to their mother’s bosom.  And, may we see the fulfillment of A joyous mother of children (Tehillim 113:9), speedily in our days.  Amen.  And, may we go up to Zion joyously, speedily in our days.  Amen.  So may it be God’s will.

I have concluded the second introduction, on the fifth day [Thursday] of the weekly portion in which we read, And I have also heard the groaning of the Children of Israel (Shemot 6:5), the first of the month of Shevat, the anniversary of the death of our master Maharam Schick z”l, in the year 5703 [1943], here in the capital, Budapest.*

*              Since it is the anniversary of the death of our master the Maharam, I will mention an idea that I heard in his name from his foremost disciple, my father-in law, the Av Beit Din of Busermin, our brilliant and righteous master, R. Ya’akov Yosef Ginz.  He derives from the verse And I will betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord (Hoshea 2:22) that our entire relationship with HaShem is based on faith without logic or reason.  Nonetheless, it says, And you will know the Lord (את ה’).  This refers to the Torah scholar, who is derived from the words “את ה'”.[55]  If a scholar should say something contrary to the words of Chazal, we need not believe him unless we understand his logic and reasoning, and determine that his opinion is well founded.  This concludes the Maharam’s words.  The same applies to our topic.

 

[1]  [Lit., The breach of the daughter of my people] from Eichah 2:11.

[2]  Based on Yehoshua 6:1.

[3]  Based on Kohelet 12:1.

[4]  See Megillah 28b.

[5]  Based on Devarim 29:23;  I Melachim 9:8;  Yirmiyah 22:8.

[6]  Based on Devarim 29:23.

[7]  #  See the approbations of the gedolim to my work Mishneh Sachir, vol. 1 (5684 [1924]).  Also see the letter of our godly master from Ostrovtza published in my work Tov Yigal (5686 [1926]).

[8]  #  As explained in Mo’ed Kattan 9b and as codified in Yoreh De’ah 246:18.

[9]  See Machzor Rabbah (nusach sefard), p. 304, s.v. “asher mi ya’aseh kema’asecha.”

[10]  Tosafot Ben Yechiel 2:1.

[11]  Reishit Chochmah (Jerusalem, 5732 [1972]), Perek HaDinin, p. 257a.

[12]  Based on Eichah 2:3.

[13]  Tomer Devorah, chap. 7.

[14]  Ya’arot Devash, vol. 1.

[15]  Pp. ???

[16]  #  See BeReishit Rabbah 81:1-2, concerning Ya’akov Avinu.

[17]  Budapest.  See the introduction (???) for a description of our author’s travels.

[18]  See pp. ???

[19]  Kuzari 2:14, quoted in the gloss of Maharatz Chayot, Mo’ed Kattan 25a.

[20]  Sefer HaChayim, Sefer Geulah VeYishuah, chap. 1 (end).

[21]  See Sha’ar HaYisodot, chap. 55.

[22]  Based on Shemot 14:8.

[23]  Based on Tehillim 90:17.

[24]  This letter is printed in the preface to Teshuvot Nefesh Chayah, by our brilliant master R. Chayim Elazar Waks.  It is quoted above in its entirety on pp. ???.

[25]  See pp. ???

[26]  #  This is also stated by the righteous and brilliant R. Akiva Yosef of Jerusalem, in his wondrous commentary to Tana DeVei Eliyahu.

[27]  Sec. 116.

[28]  See Rashi, BeMidbar 13:3.

[29]  See below, pp. ???

[30]  Zohar 3:158a, s.v. “vayishlach.”

[31]  Sh’nei Luchot HaBrit, Torah SheBichtav – Shelach, 2:68a, s.v. “be’inyan.”

[32]  [Hebrew acronym of אדוננו מורינו ורבנו – our master, our mentor, our rabbi – referring to a chassidic rebbe.]

[33]  #  The author of Sefer HaBrit (vol. 1, 9:16) writes in a similar vein, as he bemoans the lengthiness of the exile.

[34]  Vol. 2.  See author’s footnote on p. ??? regarding this work.

[35]  Divrei Chayim, VaYakhel (addendum).

[36]  Teshuvot Chatam Sofer 6:59.

[37]  #  As I stated above (p. ???).

[38]  Seder HaDorot 1:Heyh (5380 [1620]).

[39]  Based on Yirmiyah 32:19.

[40]  Based on BeReishit Rabbah 84:13.

[41]  [Our Sages make a pun based on the similarity between the Hebrew משכני (Draw me) and שכני  (my neighbors).]

[42]  #  As I cited earlier (p.???) from the work Tzror HaMor, by the Beit Yosef’s ancestor’s father-in-law.

[43]  #  Teshuvot HaRosh 4:10.  See there that which pertains to our discussion.

[44]  #  See the Ya’avetz’s lengthy exhortation on this matter in his introduction to the siddur, Sullam Beit El, p. 13a.

[45]  Based on Shir HaShirim 5:2.

[46]  Hon Ashir, end of Sotah.

[47]  P. ???

[48]  Divrei Chayim, Even HaEzer 101.

[49]  See above, p. ???

[50]  P. ???

[51]  Based on Iyov 19:26.

[52]  Based on Yirmiyah 31:16.

[53]  Based on Tehillim 113:9.

[54]  See p. ???, where the author reveals that this incident actually happened to him and his family.

[55]  See Pesachim 22b [where the Talmud derives the obligation to revere Torah scholars from the word “את” in the verse You shall fear the Lord your God (את ה’) (Devarim 10:20)].

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On Key

Related Posts

The Sanctification of Hashem – HaRav Shlomo Aviner

Just as the first part of Yechezkel’s prophecy is coming true before our eyes, i.e. the return of the Nation of Israel to its Land, so too is a new, idealistic, ethical, and spiritual spirit manifesting itself in our time.  We must not despair that the process is a slow one. It will be perfected in later stages of our Salvation, and it will lead us to complete and supreme unity with Hashem and His Torah.

TZAV – Haftorah

The intrinsic value of the State of Israel is not dependent on the number of observant Jews who live here. Of course, our aspiration is that all of our people will embrace the Torah and the mitzvot. Nonetheless, the State of Israel is a mitzvah of the Torah, whatever religious level it has.

Purim on One Leg – HaRav Eliezer Melamed

We usually feel happy about the good things in life, but because life also includes evil and pain, this joy is not complete. However, when we understand that even the bad is ultimately transformed into good, this can make us feel especially joyful.

VAYIKRA

The Zohar teaches us that no matter how good it is in Chutz LaAretz – even
from a spiritual standpoint – something is lacking, for true perfection can only be
attained in God’s special Holy Land!

Shabbat Zachor – Amalek

The goal of the Amalekites of the past, and those who have followed in their path through the generations until today, is to show everyone that Israel is like all the nations and can be fought and humiliated, and even annihilated, as Haman and Hitler tried to do, and as Hamas is trying to do now.