Sunday, June 20, 2010

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Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, zt"l, on Before Moshiach

Guest post by Rav Mechael Siegelbaum at Mystical Paths

Rav Elchanan Bunim Wasserman, murdered by the Nazis on the 13 Tammuz 5701.

Eighty years ago, Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, student of the Chafetz Chaim, saw the Holocaust happening before his eyes. In “Ikvasa d’Meshicha” (The Period Just Preceding the Moshiach) he writes:

Israel in exile (from Hashem) is likened to a lamb surrounded by seventy wolves. In this situation, all she can do is to try and make the wolves forget about her. There can be no good for the Jewish people except when the world nations are busy with other things and not concentrating on them. When the goyim start to talk about us and cannot stop talking about us, this is the greatest danger. This is what the angels ask in Shir haShirim (8:8), “What can we do for our sister- the children of Israel- on the day when they talk about her?” (p38)

One of the great challenges facing the generation of the Holocaust was whether or not to heed the call of the Maskilim- the enlightened secularists- who were promoting aliyah to Israel and the building of a Jewish homeland. 'How can this be the beginning of the redemption for which we have longed,' decried Rabbi Wasserman. 'Better to remain in exile with the Torah than to live in the land of Israel without Torah,' he exhorted.

Why does the Torah detail for us events in the lives of our forefathers? “The experiences of our forefathers are a sign to the children.” Parshat Vayishlich, which describes the meeting of Yaakov and Esav upon Yaakov’s return to Israel from Padan Aram, prophesizes, according to the Vilna Gaon, the “Ikvasa d’Meshicha.” The Torah states,”and he placed first the maidservants and their children.” From here the Vilna Gaon (in the book Even Shleima) deduces that in the days just before Moshiach at the head of the Jewish people will stand the “Erev Rav” (the mixed multidude). The Rambam writes in his “Letters to Yemen” that there exists a promise, “And also in you shall they forever believe” (Shmot 19:5, where Hashem promises Moshe that the Jewish people shall forever believe in him.) This means that the Jews will be forever bound to their belief in Torah. If you nevertheless see Jews who deny the Torah, you can be sure that “the feet of their fathers did not stand on Mount Sinai.” They do not descend from the children of Israel but rather from the Erev Rav. If today we see non-believers are the people’s leaders, it bears out the words of the Vilna Gaon that these are the descendents of the Erev Rav.

“After them Leah and her children.” This foretells that the great majority of kosher Jews will then be subjugated to the Erev Rav. For example, the leaders of Russia and another country (meaning Israel).

“And Rachel and her children after them.” These are the Torah scholars who are the lowest of all. Even this phenomenon have our eyes witnessed. Any place where there remains a refuge for Torah scholars, they are mocked and scorned. (pp21-22)

1 comment:

  1. SHALOM TV featured a very disturbing film this week about a young man who'd been raised by a Baalei Teshuvah father in a Haredi community in Israel. The young man tells of having been molested by older boys in the community and he ends up falling away and moving to America to live with his secular Jewish grandparents. The whole thing was totally depressing and, regardless of the true intentions of making and featuring such a film, the timing leads one to believe that the showing was not accidential. I felt sorry for this young man. No one should ever be molested by another under any circumstance, period! And no one should remain silent about having been molested for any reason, period!

    I said that to ask this.... This teaching of the "Erev Rav" makes sense of why things are the way they are, but ... how does this teaching help to bring about the tikkun of the portion of the structure of Mashiach that pertains to each individual neshamah, which the Baal Shem Tov and R' Nochum of Czernoble speak about? (Meor Eynaim, Pinchas).

    And if the Torah scholars remain cloistered and HaShem doesn't give them the means and wherewithal to shine their light, then how is anything going to change? We're just going to continue living in darkness!

    If we constantly focus on what divides us, then how can we ever hope to find and embrace the higher Oneness, which includes Jews and Non-Jews alike!?

    I'm plagued by Rebbe Schnnerson's words, "Peace is not homogeneity. Peace does not mean that everyone thinks the same way. Peace is when there is plurality that finds a higher Oneness."

    I'd love to focus on nothing else than this higher Oneness, but humanity seems to want none of it! Deep down they might want unity, but on their terms, rather than on HaShem's terms.

    All we seem to do is devolve into more and more sectarianism and intramural fighting and elitism.

    Perosnally, I wish HaShem would just pull the plug on the whole mess or at the very least punch my ticket so I can get off this rock. I wouldn't mind Him oblierating my soul while He's at it. Apparently, mankind isn't going to wake up and repent, so why bother? Just push the cosmic CTRL+ALT+DELETE and be done with it. Make us animals or makes us G-dly, but not a mixture of both. Take the Evil Inclination out of the equation now, rather than later.

    Oh well.... That's just one worm's rant.


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