Lessons in Truth – SEFER SHEM OLAM – 3rd Elul, 5769
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Lessons in Truth
1 Elul, 5769 / August 21, 2009
Day 90 – A Nation of Merit
SEFER SHEM OLAM — Chapter Thirteen: The Birthpangs of Mashiach — II (cont.)
One may be thinking: Perhaps our nation lacks merit and we will have no choice but to wait until the Redemption of “in its time,” the final, hidden date by which Mashiach must arrive regardless of our collective merit?
This should not be cause for concern. Firstly, it is possible that the date of “in its time,” will be reached in our day. As already mentioned, the travails of our day point towards this. “If you see a generation upon which numerous troubles come like a river, expect him [the Mashiach], as it is written, ‘For distress shall come like a river…’ (Yeshayahu 59:19) and next to that verse it is written, ‘A redeemer shall come to Zion.’ (Sanhedrin 98a)”.
Furthermore, to suggest that the Jewish nation is completely without merit is wrong and incomprehensible. Our people lived by the Torah in all situations under the most adverse conditions. Today, thank G-d, we live under the rule of a gracious government, but there were times, such as that of the Cossak uprisings of 1648-1649, when hundreds of thousands of our people died for the sanctification of His Name. We have suffered scorn and degradation, deprivation and hunger for remaining steadfast in our beliefs. Anyone with some knowledge of history knows that the death, persecution and suffering which our people has endured for clinging to its faith is indescribable. How can anyone dare suggest that the Jewish nation is without merit and that we will therefore have no choice but to wait until the final date of “ in its time,” for this exile to end? Surely we have reason to hope each day for our imminent salvation. As our Sages teach, when a person departs this world and stands before the Heavenly Court in judgment, one of the first questions he is asked is, “Did you await the salvation [through the coming of Mashiach]?” (Shabbos 31a).
We know from history that even when Hashem establishes a specific length for an exile, He employs various means to hasten its end. Hashem informed Avraham, “…for your offspring shall be strangers in a land that is not their own… for four hundred years…” (Bereishis 15:13), yet He calculated this period as beginning with the birth of Yitzchak [who himself was born into a land not his own]. Others are of the opinion that Hashem calculated the 210 years of the Jews’ sojourn in Egypt as being equivalent to 400 years because their suffering was so intense. We, too, should hope that Hashem will find a way to hasten the date of “in its time,” due to the intensity of suffering which our people have endured or because of some other factor. Perhaps this is alluded to in the words “I, Hashem, in its time I will hasten it” (Yeshayahu 60:22), which can be interpreted: Hashem, in His mercy, will hasten the final date of “in its time.”
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