VOLUME 102 NUMBER 2
Av 15, 5782
August 12, 2022
Candlelighting Time 7:42 PM
Last Sunday we sat as mourners lamenting the destructions of the two Batei Mikdash. We cried sincere tears as we read the kinnos which detailed graphically the horrible persecutions and barbaric torment our nation suffered throughout this terrible exile. The incredible strength of devotion that our people demonstrated when confronted with cruelty beyond our comprehension energized us to yearn that we should also have that same courage and determination to sanctify Hashem’s Name if we are challenged similarly. Now, we are in the aftermath of that day of longing for our losses and we look forward to the future to fortify our commitment to Hashem.
Moshe continues to recount the many iniquities that occurred during our sojourn in the desert but clearly notes that despite our misconduct Hashem’s love for us never wavered. He cherishes us because of the initial connection between Hashem and the Patriarchs and in their merit we marched out of Egypt leaving the powerful Egyptian empire devastated and their army destroyed! Indeed, Rashi points out that our liberation from bondage was due to the ‘intervention’ of the Patriarchs. Although Rashi does not cite a source, Meshech Chochmah quotes a very interesting Midrash. There it states that when the nation came to cross the Red Sea, Hashem ‘placed’ the legs of Yaakov on the water and exclaimed ‘Observe the miracles that I am performing for your children’. The Midrash is based upon a verse in Tehillim stating that Yisroel left Egypt. Even though the simple interpretation refers to our exodus, the Midrash explains that our Patriarch Yaakov left Egypt, an allusion to his assistance in our crossing the Sea. Why does the Midrash specifically point out Yaakov excluding Avrohom and Yitzchok? Even though there is another opinion that all the Patriarchs ‘participated’ in our crossing, the first understanding only refers to Yaakov.
We experience difficulty in relating to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash because our minds are elsewhere. Our priorities are often not aligned with the outlook that earlier generations espoused. When we review our rich legacy from years past, we realize the deep respect and veneration that they had for the essential and supporting tenets of our faith. In kinnos we are awe-struck when we read how our forebears marched to their deaths at the hands of human beasts that slaughtered them and scattered their remains upon the field. How parents watched the butchery of their children as they refused to worship pagan idols. They stated that we did not merit to bring them up to observe the Torah at least we can offer them as pure sacrifices to Hashem to sanctify His Name. Can we profess to have their same ideology and that degree of self-sacrifice?
Yaakov represents the culmination of the kindness of Avrohom and the strength of Yitzchok bonding together with the guidance of Torah. The Midrash mentions Yaakov as the ‘elder Yisroel’, perhaps alluding that our relationship with Yaakov must be one of aligning our theme of life and our goals with that of our elder, a concept that we must adopt in order to crystalize and cement in our mindset the ideals that we inherited from the earlier generations. Yaakov’s ‘legs’ were securely planted in the sea as he ‘observed’ our march to freedom. Stability and vision are essential ingredients as we march forward to that day when we will merit the rebuilding of the third Beis Hamikdash!
BYTE FOR SHABBOS
We are commanded to guard Shabbos. That implies that we must prepare for Shabbos and not simply rush into that day of sanctity. When we recall that we were once slaves in Egypt and respect and admire our present status, then we can truly plan for Shabbos as we should. S’FAS EMES