Redemption and Regression

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayikra 5773 – translated by R. Blumberg]


Question: How do we deal spiritually with the feeling that Jews from among our people are seeking to expel us from the settlements in the Land of Israel?

Answer: In serious matters, we don't operate based on feelings, but based on intellectual clarification. Unfortunately, the issue you raise is not just a feeling. There really has been regression here. We took a step backward at Yamit, at Gush Katif, at Amona, at Migron, and at Hebron. Still, you must realize that over the course of the Redemption there will sometimes also be regression.

As with anything historical, Redemption is not mathematical. It is statistical. With statistics, not everything is totally predictable. Statisticians say that if something is less than 10%, it doesn't exist. Thank G-d, Judea and Samaria has 350,000 Jewish residents. 10% of that is 35,000. The statistician will say that what happens to less than 35,000 people is insignificant.

Spiritually as well, it is not written that there will be no problems over the course of the Redemption. Even Moshe, who was certainly the divine emissary for the redemption from Egypt, experienced difficulties. When he set out to redeem the Jewish People, wicked Pharaoh refused to listen to him, and matters just deteriorated -- until the Israelites were forced to gather their own straw. In those moments, it was very hard for the people and for Moshe himself.

Ramban, in his Torah commentary, explains that Moshe knew from G-d that Pharaoh would refuse, hence it was clear that the redemption would not occur overnight, but gradually. Now something else became clear to him, that there would probably be regressions. And indeed, the situation deteriorated, and only later improved.

Ramban enlists our Sages’ words about the verse, “My beloved is like a gazelle” (Shir Hs-Shirim 2:9): “Just as a gazelle appears, goes into concealment and then reappears, so did the first redeemer appear to the Israelites, was then concealed, and only later reappeared” (Ramban on Shemot 5:22; Shir Ha-Shirim Rabbah 2:22).

The gazelle runs in the mountains. Suddenly it is concealed and cannot be seen, and then it reappears. It seems to have disappeared, but it has really advanced. It comes into view at a more advanced point. In the same way, Moshe, the redeemer who brought good tidings and raised hopes and faith, suddenly seemed to disappear, and matters deteriorated, yet in the end the situation improved.

At the start of the return to Zion, the Arabs perpetrated a terrible pogrom in Hebron.  Not only did many righteous Jews die cruel deaths, but the Jewish community was in despair. This wasn't what they had hoped for.

Maran Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook wrote an article entitled, “Shuvu La-Bitzaron” [Be strengthened once more], in which he said, "We have to strengthen our resolve. The terrible thing that has now occurred in Hebron represents the redeemer being concealed, but he will reveal himself once more" (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, p. 360).

We mustn't despair over what occurs. Just because there are several mishaps along the way, must we immediately say that everything is falling apart? Rather, everything is advancing in enormous strides, only here and there is a regression.

Had the return to Zion been carried out by small handful of righteous men, it would not have moved forward. Yet the return to Zion was carried out by the whole people. As is known, some of the righteous did not even move to Israel. The return to Zion was carried out by the Jewish People, and the Jewish people includes all sorts of individuals, the righteous, those in between, and even those less than that. Because the Jewish People are the ones building the Land and sacrificing themselves in the Army, not everything is exactly like we want.

This country has other problems. For example, there is a lot of Sabbath desecration. But for many of us, for some reason, Sabbath desecration does not disturb our sleep. We say, "You need patience." Most of the education in this country is not Torah education, and that too doesn't stop many of us from sleeping. There are also a lot of people who don't keep the family purity laws, and for some reason that doesn't stop many of us from sleeping. But when towns are uprooted, we suddenly say that the whole redemption has been halted, that everything is a catastrophe, that everything is a tragedy. Where were we when they were cutting off the side curls of the Yemenites and placing the children in secular schools? Why didn't we say then that the redemption had ceased? Why do only these, and not other, things bother us?

The truth is, all of these things should bother us. Everybody should be troubled when parts of the land of Israel are uprooted. We all have to act. But we're moving in the right direction. We need to increase the strength and valor of the nation, and gradually rectify all of the problems.