Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Beginning Of The Redemption? Rabbi Binyamin Kahane

The Wisdom of Rabbi Binyamin Kahane HY"D...
Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Kahane

As the people and State of Israel sink to ever greater depths, we often hear the claim that there is nothing we can do since we are still in "galut." One gets the impression that this argument is an escape - a way of releasing feelings of bitterness and despair and a convenient excuse for passively accepting our condition without trying to change it. Whatever its motivation, it is to refute the argument that we are still in galut that the following article is intended.
Let's begin with an obvious question: When the Jewish people are living in the Land of Israel, have attained sovereignty over it, have scored awesome military victories, and have witnessed the land's miraculous agricultural blossoming - can they be said to be living in galut? After all, galut refers to a nation uprooted from its land. With all the problems we have - and we are certainly the last to ignore them! - the historical process we are living through is hardly one of galut. Indeed, it's the very opposite.
Of course, referring to our condition as galut is not entirely without basis. The spiritual, moral, and national deterioration of the Jewish people today is, indeed, terrible and unprecedented. And so, in order to clear things up a bit, it behooves us to remember that geula isn't merely a slogan. Geula is a very specific process which our Rabbis describe. It is comprised of several components: the rebirth of the land, the liquidation of the Exile, the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael, Jewish sovereignty over it, revenge against the enemies of Israel, the building of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the appearance of the Messiah son of David. If we wish to define the situation we are in today, we cannot do so based on our feelings or personal views. There are rules. There are specific components to geula.
And so: Can anyone deny that the land is once again yielding its fruits ("there is no clearer indication of the end of days than this" - Sanhedrin 98a)? Can anyone deny that Jews have gathered to the land from the four corners of the world (an ingathering of the exiles); that the Diaspora is self-destructing (either by emigration to Israel or, G-d forbid, via physical liquidation or assimilation); and that large parts of the land were conquered in wars (war is also the beginning of the redemption - Megillah 17b) and are under Jewish sovereignty? Indeed, since the days of Solomon, the hand of Israel has never been stronger. The fact that we refuse to use our strength is another matter.
These are all facts that only the blind refuse to see. What do they say in response? That this isn't the ingathering of the exiles we dreamed about. But what is the meaning of the term "ingathering of the exiles" if not a return of the Jewish people to the land? (Or perhaps it refers only to an ingathering of the Jews of Boro Park?) You are not pleased with the way it came about? Well, that's how G-d decided it would happen!
What else do they say? That this isn't the rebirth of the land which the Rabbis meant. But the fact is that for 2,000 years the land kept its promise: it lay desolate despite the efforts of various peoples to revive it. Only in the last few generations, when the Jews returned, did the land yield its fruit!
For those who say we are in galut, what has to happen to make the process kosher? Must we start again from the beginning? Must we all, G-d forbid, return to the Exile and must the land again become barren so that we can get it right the next time? Must we start over again so that things can go according to their script, the way they think the redemption should unfold?
Naturally, there are valid questions that can be asked. For example, how is it possible that the wicked continue to dominate Israel despite all the miracles we have witnessed? How can the Jewish nation be descending into unprecedented depths of decadence if it is living in midst of the geula process? Is there not a contradiction here?
On the contrary! The Rabbis discussed such a scenario long ago. Indeed, they told us (Sanhedrin 97a) that if geula comes b'ita, the government will turn heretical and an evil government will rule. Actually, the Rabbis tell us (Megillah 17b) that one of the stages in the geula process is judgment against the wicked! And so in the geula of b'ita, there will be wicked people, and these wicked people will be in power. But the Talmud also teaches us that at a certain stage they will be destroyed ("criminals and sinners alike will be broken, and those who have forsaken G-d will perish"). This stage, too, will come. When? THAT DEPENDS ON US! If instead of KVETCHING, G-d fearing Jews would take hold of the reigns of leadership to further the redemption, the geula process would accelerate and the Messiah son of David would come quicker.
What a pity that so few study these passages, yet so many speak about geula as if they were experts. This subject is no less important than the laws of Bava Kamma. What a pity to live through this unique era submerged in blindness, without trying to understand its greatness. If we would only understand our era's significance, we could advance the redemption and save ourselves from some of the suffering of the birth-pangs of the Messianic period.
In conclusion, the complete redemption has not yet arrived, but parts of it are already with us. The real problem is not that we are in galut, but rather that WE REFUSE TO REMOVE THE GALUT FROM WITHIN US!!
Darka Shel Torah, 1999

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