Lessons in Truth – SEFER SHEM OLAM – 30th Av, 5769
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Lessons in Truth
29 Av, 5769 / August 29, 2009
Day 88 – Two Forms of Redemption
SEFER SHEM OLAM — Chapter Thirteen: The Birthpangs of Mashiach — II
The Prophet states: “I, Hashem, in its time I will hasten it” (Yeshayahu 60:22), to which the Talmud comments:
R’ Yehoshua ben Levi noted a contradiction: On the one hand it is written “in its time”, which implies that the Redemption will occur at its preordained time. But on the other hand it is written “I will hasten it” which implies that Hashem will bring the Redemption before its preordained time.
The answer to this is: If the Jews are deserving, Hashem will hasten it; if they are not deserving, the Redemption will come in its time (Sanhedrin 98a).
Thus, Mashiach can appear at any time, so we should never despair of his imminent arrival. Do not wonder: How is it possible that earlier generations which were far superior to us did not merit the Redemption, yet we in our lowly state will merit it? We can answer this by citing a law in the Torah.
In a passage dealing with Jewish slaves (Vayikra, Chapter 25), the Torah states that if an impoverished Jew sold himself to a non- Jewish resident of Eretz Yisrael, there is a responsibility upon his relatives to redeem him. In doing so, the relatives may not deprive the gentile owner of his legitimate property rights. They must calculate how much the gentile paid for the slave, how much of that money has already been earned by the slave through his labor, and they must pay the difference. Obviously, the longer the slave has been working for his master, the less the relatives will have to pay.
For example: If the Jew sold himself to the gentile for six years for a sum of six hundred silver pieces, he would earn one hundred pieces for each year of work. If his relatives wished to redeem him after a year, they would have to pay the gentile five hundred pieces; if they would do so after five years, however, the cost would be only one hundred pieces.
Our redemption from this bitter exile is dependent, of course, on “spiritual currency.” As Eliyahu the Prophet told R’ Yehoshua ben Levi (Sanhedrin 98a), the hastening of the Redemption is directly related to our level of repentance and mitzvah performance: “Today, [Mashiach can arrive] if you heed His [Hashem’s] voice!” (Tehillim 95:7). As each day, with its trials and tribulations, goes by, the merits of the Jewish people increase and we become ever more deserving of the dawn of redemption.
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