Torah Fax

Friday, August 17, 2007 - 3 Elul, 5767 

Torah Reading: Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18 - 21:9)
Candle Lighting: 7:33 PM
Shabbat ends: 8:34 PM
Pirkei Avot Chapter 1

For G‑d's Sake

This week's parsha discusses the prospects of war that the Jews will face when they enter The Land of Israel.  The parsha then goes on to underscore the fact that the Jewsish people need not fear the outcome of the war:
"If you go out to war against your enemies, and see a horse and chariot, a people (which appears to be) more numerous than you—you should not be afraid of them! For G‑d is with you, your G‑d who brought you out of the land of Egypt….For G‑d, your G‑d is going with you, to fight your enemies for you, to save you."
According to a Chassidic commentary, Ir Chanoch, Moses, in these last few words, is actually suggesting three reasons why the people need not fear their enemy. These reasons correspond to the three reasons why we are secure in our belief that G‑d will redeem us from this exile as well:
First: "For G‑d your G‑d is going with you."
Even if we would not be deserving of G‑d's Redemption, G‑d will do it for His own sake. G‑d has made an investment in and committed Himself to us from the days of the Patriarchs and onward. G‑d made a covenant to Abraham that He would always keep His eye on the Jewish people and ultimately liberate them from the periods of exile they would temporarily have to live through and the oppression they would endure.
Any person who is somewhat familiar with the Bible knows that G‑d swore that He would never abandon us. The longer we suffer and languish in exile the greater is the degradation of G‑d's own reputation, as it were. In Biblical and Talmudic jargon the entire exile experience where Jews are victimized is the ultimate Chilul Hashem, the profanation of G‑d's name. No matter how much we may have "irritated" G‑d we can be confident that He will ultimately liberate us from exile and bring peace to Israel, the Jewish people and the entire world.
Second: "To fight your enemies for you."
Our enemies have subjected us to unprecedented pain. No matter how much we might have sinned, there is no rhyme or reason that we should be so humiliated and tortured, spiritually, emotionally and physically. In all the annals of the world's history, no nation has been so undeservedly persecuted. For this reason alone, G‑d owes us His protection and salvation.

This is consistent with the Biblical statement that G‑d takes up the cause of the oppressed. Even if the oppressed person is not so virtuous and deserving of special privileges, nevertheless, G‑d will still fight for the oppressed and liberate them from their predicament.
Third: "to save you."
G‑d will save us because we are, indeed, deserving!
Who has heard of a nation that has gone through thousands of years of persecution, dispersion, calumny and enticement, and have still survived, flourished and remained faithful, for better or for worse, to their G‑d, despite the appearance that He had abandoned them. Could G‑d have asked for a better and holier people?
For this reason we are certainly deserving to be saved and liberated from exile.
This explains the words of the Midrash that when Moses approached the burning bush—where he was given the charge to be the Jewish nation's first liberator—he walked three steps. Why is it important to know that Moses walked three steps?
The Midrash uses the three steps as a metaphor for the three arguments and approaches that Moses was going to use to get G‑d to liberate the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage as well as from all subsequent exiles. The three approaches are that G‑d should save them because: a) that it is for G‑d's own sake and glory b) they were inordinately oppressed and c) they are deserving  
At first glance, one can ask why the need for the first and second line of defense if we have the third point that we are worthy of being liberated. If we deserve it why do we have to use the persecution argument? And if we doubly deserve it because of who we are and what we've gone through, why do we have to ask G‑d to do it for His own sake? Would it make any sense for a hard worker to ask his employer to pay him because the employer would ruin his reputation if he didn't do so?
In truth, these three arguments are not simply used to reinforce our claim for liberation. Each argument elicits a different level of kindness from G‑d.
When we ask G‑d to liberate us for our sake, the degree of reward we are entitled to is commensurate with our investment.
When we ask G‑d for liberation because we are victims, that elicits in G‑d sense of indignation and the added "emotion" on G‑d's part leads to a much greater reward and magnitude of Redemption for us. Just as the enemies of Israel throughout history have gone way beyond the pale in the way they persecuted us, even as persecution goes, so too, the reward we will receive in the world of Redemption with the coming of Moshiach, will go beyond the pale of goodness that we could ever have anticipated based solely on the amount of effort we invested in our pursuit of G‑d's will.
But even the enhanced measure of good we will receive in the Era of Redemption is still finite compared to what the truly infinite G‑d possesses. When we ask Him for liberation based on G‑d's own consideration, we can expect the good to be limitless because it is not based on limited human considerations, but on G‑d's expansive and infinite power. May we see the onset of the Redemption, imminently!


Moshiach Matters       

The Talmud explains that G‑d grants reward "measure for measure." It thus follows that to merit that the revelations of the Era of the Redemption be internalized within the world itself, our divine service cannot be "above the world," but rather must be integrated within the day to day realities in which we live. (From Dawn to Daylight by Rabbi E. Touger)

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