How long does it take for the Redemption to develop and reach completion? It all depends on us. The more we dedicate ourselves to the task, the sooner we will achieve the Kingdom of Israel and the ideal Jewish State.

Fulfillment of  the  Divine Promise of  Redemption     

by HaRav Shlomo Aviner

[Other articles and responsa by HaRav Aviner at:


Fulfillment of  the  Divine promise of  Redemption

The establishment  of the State of Israel is not only a mitzva; it is also the fulfillment of the Divine promise of Redemption for Am Yisrael. In the Talmud, the sage Shmuel states: “There is no difference between our time and the Messianic period except that in that future time, Am Yisrael will be free from subservience to other nations.”¹ Rambam, too, defines the Messianic period as one in which Am Yisrael is independent of any other nation.² It is clear that the establishment of an independent State of Israel is part of the Messianic process foretold by our prophets. Obviously, the establishment of the State is not the fulfillment of everything that our prophets promised; it is only one part of the Redemption.³ However, the first step must be Am Yisrael’s freedom from foreign rule. Only at a later stage will we achieve internal freedom, such that no Jew will be financially dependent on another. Thus, we see that the establishment of the State is both a mitzva which we are obligated to fulfill, and also God’s fulfillment of His Divine promise to Am Yisrael.

The difference between a mitzva and a promise

There are many people who feel that there is a contradiction between a Divine promise and a mitzva: a Divine promise is God’s to keep, while a mitzva is something we are obligated to fulfill. According to this view, God promised that we would one day be free from foreign rule, and we should therefore wait passively for it to happen. This is not so! The fact that God promised to redeem us does not exempt us from taking responsibility. His promise does not release us from the mitzva that we are obligated to fulfill. On the contrary, it obligates and motivates us to do everything in our power to actualize the promise. Had God not promised us that we would be independent,  we might feel there was no point in making an effort to achieve it, because perhaps we would never reach that point. But since we know that God has promised us independence,  we must do everything in our power to fulfill the mitzva, for we are certain that in the end we will succeed.

In a similar fashion, Rambam refers to the promise in the Torah that Am Yisrael will eventually do teshuva.⁴ Should we conclude from that promise that we need not invest any effort in educating our fellow human being, or in improving ourselves, since we know that in the end everyone will do teshuva anyway? Obviously not. We must certainly try as hard as we can to elevate ourselves and others. The fact that the Torah has promised us that our efforts will succeed only serves to motivate us to try harder, even though we have no idea when this promise will be fulfilled. It may take hundreds, or even thousands, of years, but eventually it will happen. Therefore, we see that the Divine promise does not negate the need for our own input. On the contrary, it provides the motivation and impetus for our efforts.

This idea can be understood by the following parable: A famous musician tests a child and says, “That child is talented. He will certainly be a great musician when he grows up.” This statement does not promise that one day the child will magically turn into a great musician without any effort. It simply means that the child has the ability to become a great musician if he develops his talents and works hard. No achievements are reached without effort; on the other hand, without the potential to succeed, no amount of hard work will help.

Ths, the establishment of the State of Israel is both a mitzva achieved through intensive labor and the fulfillment of a Divine promise. It is the result of a partnership between our Creator and His nation. His promise lays the foundation for our efforts. Without it, our endeavors would be in vain. But on the other hand, His promise can only be fulfilled through our exertions.

The Redemption is  a process

The redemptive process, as we see it today, is a gradual one. God, if He so wills, can bring the Redemption in an instant, or He can bring it about little by little. He does not owe us anything. He brought us out of Egypt in haste, but in the days of Ezra and Nechemia, He redeemed us slowly. Today, too, our Creator is returning His presence to Zion measure by measure.

The world itself was created through a process of ongoing development. On the first day, light was created. On each additional day, something new was added and the world developed, until finally, on the sixth day, mankind – the crown of Creation – was fashioned, and we are told that “it was very good.”⁵ Later, when Cain killed Hevel, it became apparent that mankind was not so very good. There were only two brothers in the whole world, and they lacked the ability to coexist peacefully.

We see that the history of mankind has also evolved gradually. Mankind has the potential to be “very good,” but in actuality, this was not always the case. The ten generations from Adam to Noach grew ever more corrupt, until finally God brought a flood upon the world. Another ten generations of vice followed, from Noach to Avraham.⁶ No less than twenty generations elapsed from Creation until the appearance of Avraham. Avraham, who was truly “very good,” was the realization of the Divine potential of Creation, but God was not satisfied only with holy individuals. His goal was for there to be a holy nation, and Avraham was designated to pave the way for this objective.

God promised Avraham, “I shall make you into a great nation.”⁷ This was not accomplished in one day. Yitzchak clashed with Yishmael, Yaakov with Eisav, the twelve tribes descended to Egypt and suffered there for hundreds of years – until finally we became a nation. We left Egypt and wandered for years in the desert. The generation who left Egypt died in the desert and a new generation entered Eretz Yisrael. Did life then become utopian? Did we all live happily and peacefully as a holy nation in our own Land? No! It took hundreds of years of fighting one another, and fighting wars against the Canaanites and Philistines, and of Jews committing sins of idolatry, adultery and bloodshed, until we finally reached the golden age of David and Shlomo.

And then we stumbled again.

During the second period of redemption, in the days of the Return to Zion of Ezra and Nechemia, there were also many crises. Hate and deception delayed the building of the Beit HaMikdash; our non-Jewish neighbors tormented us. Jews desecrated Shabbat publicly, enslaved their fellow Jews and intermarried with the local population. Finally, after almost two hundred years, the Hasmoneans succeeded in restoring independence to Am Yisrael and purifying the Beit HaMikdash. In our generation, too, the third redemption is a slow process. Compared to our past history, the progress is rapid, but it is certainly not an instantaneous redemption. How long will this continue? It all depends on us. The more we dedicate ourselves to the task, the sooner we will achieve the Kingdom of Israel and the ideal Jewish State.



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