שבת טעם החיים ראה תשע”א
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Re’eh 5771
Seek the Bais HaMikdash so that it will be Rebuilt
כי אם אל המקום אשר יבחר ה’ אלקיכם מכל שבטיכם לשום את שמו שם לשכנו תדרשו ובאת שמה, rather, only at the place that HaShem, your G-d, will choose from among all your tribes to place His Name there shall you seek out His Presence and come there. (Devarim 12:5)
We are all eagerly anticipating the arrival of Moshiach, and current events always appear to be the harbinger of the Ultimate Redemption. Yet, time after time we are disappointed when an event that we thought was the catalyst for Moshiach’s arrival turns out to be nothing more than an event. Are we all misguided in our perspective of when and how Moshiach will come? The Gemara in many places tells us that if we witness a certain event or hear of world changing developments, then we should anticipate Moshiach’s arrival. Recent events, such as great leaders passing on, the tragic killings of a young child and a respected Kabbalist, amongst other developments in the world, would seem to point to Moshiach’s arrival. While we may be somewhat impatient in our expectations of when Moshiach will arrive, our anticipation of his arrival seems to be well placed. What else, then, can we do to anticipate his arrival and the Ultimate Redemption?
In this week’s parasha, it is said (Devarim 12:5) כי אם אל המקום אשר יבחר ה’ אלקיכם מכל שבטיכם לשום את שמו שם לשכנו תדרשו ובאת שמה, rather, only at the place that HaShem, your G-d, will choose from among all your tribes to place His Name there shall you seek out His Presence and come there. (Devarim 12:5). The simple meaning of this verse is that when one wishes to offer sacrifices, he must do so in the Mishkan of Shiloh which is the site that HaShem chose. The Ramban (Bamidbar 16:21), however, adopts a different approach to explain this verse. In the book of Shmuel (Shmuel II 24:1) it is said ויסף אף ה’ לחרות בישראל ויסת את דוד בהם, the anger of HaShem again flared against Israel, and He enticed Dovid because of them. Rashi writes that he does not know why HaShem became angry again with the Jewish People. The Ramban posits that HaShem was angry with the Jewish People that they had not been seeking a location and the building of the Bais HaMikdash. Dovid sought to build the Bais HaMikdash, but HaShem prevented him from doing so, and therefore HaShem was angry at the Jewish People for not seeking out the building of the Bais HaMikdash. The Ramban there and in our parasha, based on the Sifri, implies from this incident with Dovid that our verse is meant to be understood as a positive commandment for every Jew to seek out the site of the Bais HaMikdash. The difficulty with the Ramban is that we can understand that prior to the building of the Bais HaMikdash there was a positive commandment to seek out the site. Once the Bais HaMikdash was built, however, it would not seem logical to require every Jew to seek out the site of something that is already known. Is the verse only referring to a specific time period in Jewish history, or are we also obligated to request the building of the Bais HaMikdash?
Perhaps the answer to this question is that Rashi in Sukkah (42a) writes that the third Bais HaMikdash will come down from heaven already built. The commentators wonder how this can be so, as the Rambam (Hilchos Bais Habechirah 1:12) clearly writes that there is a positive commandment from the Torah to build the Bais HaMikdash. One of the many answers that are offered to resolve this question is that we are obligated to begin building the Bais HaMikdash, and HaShem will then complete the Bais HaMikdash. Similarly, we are required to seek out the Bais HaMikdash, despite the fact that we know that the Bais HaMikdash will be rebuilt by HaShem.
With regard to what we need to do in a time of crisis, the most important thing is to have faith that HaShem is in control and His will is being carried out. Nonetheless, by desiring the holiness of the Bais HaMikdash, we can hasten its rebuilding. HaShem should allow us to focus on doing everything necessary that will bring Moshiach, and the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash, speedily, in our days.
Shabbos in Action through the Prism of the Parshah
In this week’s parasha it is said (Devarim 13:13) כי תשמע באחת עריך אשר ה’ אלקיך נתן לך לשבת שם לאמר, if, in one of your cities that HaShem, your G-d, gives you in which to dwell, you hear, saying. This passage refers to עיר הנדחת, a city that most of its inhabitant’s worshipped idolatry. The Gemara (Shabbos 118b) states that even one who worshipped idols like the generation of Enosh, if he observes the Shabbos properly, he will be granted atonement for his sins. This idea is alluded to in our verse, as the word לשבת, translated as “to dwell,” can also be read as laShabbos, for the Shabbos. HaShem gave us the Shabbos as the antidote to idolatry and all other foreign influences. Let us use the Shabbos wisely to merit Divine protection.
A Surgical Procedure
In 1854, Rabbi Yehoshua Rokeach, the Belzer Rebbe, suffered from a succession of mysterious ailments. Although he was in much pain, he maintained a cheerful countenance on the outside. His chassidim, however, were greatly worried-not just because of the illnesses themselves, for they were all curable, but because of certain disturbing hints from the Rebbe that his end was near.
The next time the Rebbe’s condition worsened, they decided to spare no expense and bring him to Vienna. There, in the finest medical facility in Europe, they took him to be examined by top specialists. The doctors announced their diagnosis: an immediate and risky operation was urgently necessary.
The Belzer made his preparations. He immersed in the mikveh; he wrote his will; he recited with great emotion the words of the Final Confession. Only then, in an exalted spirit of awe and love of G-d, did he allow himself to be placed on the operating table.
The surgical team assembled around the Rebbe. All awaited the chief surgeon’s signal to the anesthetist to begin his procedure.
Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, the Rebbe called out to one of the surgeons. After confirming his first name, he said: “Moses? You’re a Jew, aren’t you?” The doctor quietly nodded his head.
Moses, whose given name was actually Moshe Yitzchak, was from a small town called Linden. There he had grown up in a traditional Jewish home. His father had tried his best to provide him a strong Jewish education, but alas, the boy’s heart was drawn in a completely different direction. As his head filled with visions of more cosmopolitan, attracting vistas, he grew further and further from the values of his nurturing home. As soon as he was of age, he left Linden and his distraught parents, and headed for the great metropolis of Vienna.
The first step he took in his new life was to change his name to Moses. Next, he enrolled in a secular school, where thanks to his brilliant mind and determined diligence, he caught up to and surpassed his age-mates by absorbing an extraordinary large amount of material in a relatively short period of time.
Armed with his decree, he was accepted to the medical school of the university, and there too he was highly successful. Soon after, he became established as a first-class physician and surgeon.
Unfortunately, the more he succeeded, the further he drifted from his Jewish roots. No longer could anyone recognize the sophisticated Dr. Moses as the small-town Moshe Yitzchak of Linden.
Although Moses’ nod of affirmation of his Jewish identity was small and unobtrusive, it was noticed by everyone in the room. There was absolute silence when the Rebbe continued: “Moses, do you believe that G-d Al-mighty created the world and conducts it?” After a short hesitation the perplexed Moses answered, “Yes, Rabbi, I do.”
The medical staff looked on in astonishment, but the Rebbe seemed oblivious to their stares as all his attention was focused on the doctor. “And what about Moshiach the righteous one who any moment will come and redeem our people from the exile? Do you believe that, Moses?”
This time Moses was silent longer. He selected his words carefully. “Uh, I believe that there will come a certain time when there will be a redemption, but I don’t believe that it will come about through a Messiah, a single person, who will rule over the whole world and everyone will be in awe and fear of him. Such a thing is not within the realm of rational possibility; so I can’t accept it.”
The Belzer lifted his head and turned to face Moses directly. He opened wide his powerful eyes, two bright shining orbs radiating kindness and goodness, but also power and authority.
The Rebbe’s penetrating gaze fastened on Moses. He felt it burning into him. He tried to avert his own eyes but was unable. It was as if they were magnetically attached to those of the Rebbe.
The stunned members of the medical team saw their comrade’s face turn deathly pale, then blush bright as a beet. Then again white, again red. His whole body was trembling and his hands had begun to shake. They had no idea what to think of this unexpected bizarre interaction, but they realized Moses must be undergoing some sort of spiritual or emotional trauma.
The tension was palpable. Moses was panting and breathing with difficulty as if he had just completed a long-distance run. He tried his best to calm himself and relax, but found himself unable to. The simple fact that someone had asserted control over him with just a glance kept him in internal turmoil.
Finally, the Rebbe averted his eyes from Moses. The surgeon felt his composure return. Then the Rebbe looked at him again, and studied his face, but this time his gaze was caressing. “Nu, Moses, now do you believe that an individual is capable of arousing fear in all those around him with just a glance of the eyes?”
Moses nodded in silent admission.
“Well, Moses, that is exactly how it will be when Moshiach arrives. G-d’s chosen one will rule over the entire world, and everyone will abandon their evil ways and turn towards G-d.”
“The Rebbe is right; I was mistaken,” muttered the abashed physician.
The drama over, the operation was able to take place. Afterwards, it was pronounced a great success, and thousands of chassidim breathed sighs of relief.
Fifteen days later the Belzer was discharged. He boarded the train to return to Belz from Vienna. To the deep sorrow of his followers, however, he never arrived, but went to his eternal reward on 23 Shvat, at age 59, during the course of the journey. Among those that merited to be in the small group of disciples present at the moment that the Rebbe passed on was his devoted chassid, Moshe Yitzchak of Linden.
Shabbos: Ta’am HaChaim Re’eh 5771
Is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Brodman of Southfield, MI in honor of the Bas Mitzvah of their dear daughter Noa and for HaShem’s many Brachos.
Have a wonderful and delightful Shabbos
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler
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