Exile – What can we do about it?
What’s does exile mean? Expulsion from one’s native land by authoritative decree.
The Gemara says, “There was no more tragic a time than when Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu, ‘I hide My face on that day’ [in response to Klal Yisrael’s wayward behavior].” Rabbi Moshe Silberstein says, “Human suffering and exile from Eretz Yisrael are certainly travesties, but the tragedy of being distanced from Hashem is unparalleled.”
Exile denotes the distance from G-d as the Source of Creation and distance from man shaping his destiny. Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai says that night represents exile – the banishment of the Jewish nation from its land. Yet, the Shechinah is with us in exile, suffering along with us. Exile typifies departure from one’s natural place.
Any exile which the Jewish nation suffers is only temporary and has no ultimate reality. As Rabbi Pinchas Winston says, “We have to realize exile is not a home. Exile is not redemption, no matter how sweet it is.” Furthermore, the Gemara says that from the day that the Beis HaMikdosh was destroyed, there has been no day without its curse.
Hashem says to Moshe, “…the Tent of Meeting that dwells with them in the midst of their impurities.” The Gemara teaches that even in a time that they are impure, the Divine Presence rests among them. The Maharsha states that even while the Jews are in exile, the Divine Presence remains with them. Although the years of exile do represent distancing, G-d has not forsaken His people.
Where’s the proof? The Medrash states that even when Yisrael was exiled to Egypt, the Shechinah was with them.
In the documentary of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy states, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Conversely, how does our Creator remind us, that America is not Yerushalayim?
Rashi says, “In exile Jews will not be sure of safety from violence. As to their livelihood, they will depend on what they can buy day by day…”
What’s so terrible about being in exile?
There is no greater cause of bittul Torah, cessation of Torah study, than the fact that the Jews were exiled from their Land. When the Jews were exiled to Babylonia, not one of them was able to explain his [Torah] learning [properly]. This was the loss of the true splendor of Tzion: the Torah. Being exiled to Babylonia is no different than being exiled to America. There is one catch. Approximately, 200 years ago, Rav Chaim Volozhin told Reb Dovid the following:
“…You should know, my son, that the day will come when the pillars of European Jewry will topple, when the yeshivos will be destroyed and uprooted. However, they will be reborn in the exile of America, the final stop of the Jewish people before the arrival of Moshiach. The American exile will be the tenth and final exile of Torah, following those of Babylon, North Africa, Egypt, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Poland and Lithuania.”
Once the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, genuine Torah knowledge became inaccessible. The two go hand in hand. Without the Beis HaMikdash, there cannot be true Torah knowledge. Without the Beis HaMikdash Hashem’s Influence is more distant and it is impossible to connect as deeply with Him through Torah as before.
This is the reason that in the Yehi Ratzon prayer at the end of Shemonah Esrei we pray for both the Beis HaMikdash to be rebuilt and for our portion in Torah. The Beis HaMikdash brings Hashem’s Influence into this world, while the proper study of Torah infuses the scholar with Hashem’s Influence.
What can we do about our exile? Eradicate sinas chinam, hatred for no good reason which is what caused Beis HaMikdosh to be destroyed. How? Read Building Tomorrow by Rabbi Y. Y. Rubinstein which discusses Sinas Chinam – How it starts, spreads, and how to get rid of it for good.
Jews always answer a question with a question. Therefore, how many people does it take to bring the Final Redemption? Hashem Himself answers this question:
“I searched for someone who would stand before Me and daven on behalf of Klal Yisroel, that I should not destroy them, but I did not find anyone, so therefore I will pour out My wrath against them and consume them with the flame of My fury.”
One person could have saved all of Klal Yisroel – one person could have prevented the churban. If even one person would have stood up and prayed on behalf of Klal Yisroel.
Hashem would have rescinded His decree. This is a message from Hashem which is repeated by another one of His prophets as well:
“Go in the streets of Yerushalayim… and seek in its plazas if you will find a just man if there is one who dispenses Justice and seeks emunah if you find even a lone man like this then I will forgive the whole city.”
If there would have been even one person in all of Yerushalayim who was just, Hashem would have forgiven the entire city.
Every Shabbos we say:
מִמְּקומְךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ תופִיעַ וְתִמְלוךְ עָלֵינוּ כִּי מְחַכִּים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ… תִּתְגַּדַּל וְתִתְקַדַּשׁ בְּתוךְ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִירְךָ… וְעֵינֵינוּ תִרְאֶינָה מַלְכוּתֶךָ, From Your “place”, our King, You will appear and rule over us, for we await You… May You be exalted and sanctified within Yerushalayim, Your city… May our eyes Your see Kingdom…
Rav Matisyahu Salomon quotes the Chofeitz Chayim who states, “When a person says כִּי מְחַכִּים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ, for we await You; during kedushah, he should contemplate to himself, ‘Am I saying the truth? Do I really yearn for Moshiach?’”
Why is yearning for Moshiach essential? Rabbi Pinchas Winston cites Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein, who states the following:
“The exodus from Egypt liberated only one out of five Jews — and some say one out of every 50 – because all those who were bound to Egypt and did not want to depart died in the three days of darkness and were not privileged to leave. That is, only those who desired redemption with all their hearts were redeemed.”
“The Final Redemption, likewise, depends upon our yearning.” As we say every morning, “By the End of Days He will send our Moshiach, to redeem those longing for His final salvation.”
On Shabbos, some people sing Tzur Mishelo which states the following:
…בֶּן דָּוִד עַבְדֶּךָ יָבֹא וְיִגְאָלֵנוּ… יִבָּנֶה הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, עִיר צִיּוֹן תְּמַלֵּא, וְשָׁם נָשִׁיר שִׁיר חָדָשׁ, May the son of Dovid, Your servant, come and redeem us… May the Beis HaMikdosh be rebuilt; and the City of Tzion will be – filled again – with people singing a new song…”
In addition, we say on the Shalosh Regalim in mussaf:
גַּלֵּה כְּבוד מַלְכוּתְךָ עָלֵינוּ מְהֵרָה. וְהופַע וְהִנָּשא עָלֵינוּ לְעֵינֵי כָּל חָי, reveal the glory of Your Kingship upon us, speedily; appear and be uplifted over us before the eyes of all the living.
Are we yearning for this or is it mere lip service?
There’s a song called, “We want Moshiach now, we don’t want to wait,” which kindergartens sing after davening.
Where did this song happen to originate from?
On October 8, 1980, Tzivos Hashem Children’s Rally sang this song to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt”l. The Rebbe began clapping along as approval and afterwards encouraged singing it. The song itself was written by campers and then received the Rebbe’s approval after it was first sung in front of him.
The question one needs to ask themselves is, “Do I want Moshiach now? Do I anticipate his revelation that I can’t wait anymore?
The Chofetz Chayim says,
“If we were truly yearning for the final Redemption and waiting each day for its arrival, then we would be preparing ourselves by learning the relevant halachos, for there are many halachos to be learned and they cannot all be covered in a short time… For if it would be revealed that in a short time the final Redemption would arrive, then certainly millions of Jews would quickly learn the halachos to the Beis HaMikdosh, since at that time all of these halachos will be applicable, not only for kohanim but for all Jews, for instance, the halachos regarding eating karbonos and visiting the Mikdash… Therefore, if we are truly waiting and yearning for the final Redemption… we too should arouse ourselves and learn these halachos with all our strength.”
Is there any sefer that exists nowadays which has relevant halachos regarding the Beis HaMikdash?
Yes! It’s called Days Are Coming by Rabbi Moshe Silberstein.
What is the sefer about? It’s an In-Depth Analysis of the Practical Halachos Relevant to Visiting the Bais HaMikdash. By studying this sefer, one is imbuing himself with faith that Hashem will redeem us. The Chofeitz Chayim had a special morning coat that he planned to wear to greet Moshiach and from time to time he put it on and sit in anticipation. Therefore, a person should designate some type of article of clothing – i.e. suit, shirt, hat, belt or shoes etc., that he/ she has designated to wear when Moshiach reveals himself. As the Sefer HaChinuch says, “A person is fashioned by his deeds.” Saying the 12th Principle of the Ani Ma’amins every day or learning Seider Kodshim isn’t enough.
Conversely, the Rambam says, “Anyone who does not anticipate Moshiach’s revelation denies [the pronouncements] of the prophets; even worse than that, he rejects the Torah and Moshe our Teacher.”
You’ll tell me, “But I’m not the Chofeitz Chayim.” That’s true. Here’s the following story:
“On Wednesday, Mrs. Leah Rubashkin got a call that her husband summoned to the warden’s office She got into the car and headed off to Otisville. She arrived with a change of clothing for her husband, but the guard said no, he couldn’t change on the premises – one last display of power on the part of the warden’s office. I wondered how she’d had the presence of mind to grab a change of clothing after having received the most exhilarating phone call of her life.
“I didn’t,” Mrs. Rubashkin answered. “I’ve been driving around with that change of clothing in my car for eight years.”
Mrs. Leah Rubashkin is the epitome of the Chofeitz Chayim!
Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman zt”l, wrote in a letter: “Several times I heard from the holy Chofetz Chayim, that we can learn about the end of our exile from what happened at the end of our exile in Egypt…”
Rav Menachem Schneerson once quoted Rav Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn as saying the following:
“If all the Jews, great and small alike, together said, ‘Father, enough! Have pity on us and send us our Mashiach!’ – Mashiach would certainly come!”
Where did Rav Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn get his concept from? Perhaps from Rabbeinu Bachayei, who wrote the following:
“Even though the time of the redemption had arrived, they weren’t worthy of being redeemed. However, once they all cried out in unison from the work that they were undergoing, their tefillos were accepted… This is to teach you that the tefillah of a person is only complete when one cries out from the pain and stress that are contained within one’s heart. This type of tefillah is more accepted by Hashem then mere lip service.”
The Chofeitz Chayim states:
“All the many troubles that have fallen upon us, from which we have still not been saved, are because we don’t scream and increase our prayers in response to them. If we had prayed properly, we would not have returned empty-handed… several times daily he must pour out his requests in solitude, in his house, from the depths of his heart. The three regular prayers are so routine that one does not really concentrate during them – which is not the case if each person would contemplate in solitude his own plight… then he would pour out his heart like water to Hashem. Such a prayer would emerge with very deep intent with a broken heart and with great humility. Such a prayer will certainly not go unanswered…!”
The Gemara says that from the day that the Beis HaMikdosh was destroyed, the ‘gates of tefillah’ was closed. Still, the ‘gates of tears’ were never closed.” In fact, crying out in prayer is beneficial for a person because it has the effect (i.e. power) to reverse a decree.
If that’s the case, why “don’t” we cry to Hashem?
Both children and adults, want to think of themselves as macho. Even if they’re undergoing mental anguish, they’d rather bottle themselves up, then express their emotions to others or even our Creator! They believe crying is showing a sign of weakness or maybe that’s what America has brainwashed us to think. In the words of Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l: “Most of us are – and forgive my expression – emotionally constipated.”
Every morning we say, “He responds to His people at the time they cry out to Him.”
The Medrash states, “When Bnei Yisroel went out of Egypt, they looked back and saw the Egyptians chasing after them… When Bnei Yisroel saw, they were surrounded on all sides – the sea in front of them blocking their path, their enemy chasing after them, and wild animals on both sides in the desert – they lifted their eyes up to their Father in Heaven, and cried out to the Holy One Blessed be He, as it is written: ‘…and Bnei Yisroel cried out to Hashem.’ Why did Hashem do this to them? Because Hashem yearned for their tefillos.”
R’ Yitzchak said, “The salvation of Israel depends only on crying… as it is written, ‘…With crying, they will come.’”
When an infant wants his parents to give him attention, he cries. If they don’t hear him or choose to ignore him, he cries, screams even louder or throws a tantrum, until his parents come and attend to his needs.
The Chofeitz Chayim says the following:
“Even though we pray for the redemption several times every day, requesting by itself is not enough. One must demand the redemption, just as with the wages of a hired worker. Failure to do so shows that this matter is clearly not that urgent to us!”
In fact, R’ Shimon ben Menassia teaches that the redemption will not come until the Jewish people pray for the return of the three things it had rejected in the days of Yeravam: the rule of G-d, the kingship of Dovid and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdosh.
In the words of “Rebbetzin” Dorothy: “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
So too, as long as the service of the Beis HaMikdash took place, there was blessing in the world, there were low prices, there was abundant grain, there was abundant wine, and people ate and were satiated, and animals ate and were satiated… Once the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, blessing was removed from the world… When the Beis HaMikdash existed, that sacred abode was a place that was prepared to receive the flow of prophecy and wisdom, to the point that through that place it would flow to all of Bnei Yisrael.
In the merit of crying out to Hashem for the return of these three things, may He fulfill the words of Avraham Fried and “Bring the House down”!
Dedicated in memory of Shlomo Avraham Moshe ben Yechezkeil Yosef, Rochel bas Menachem Mendel Boruch, Eliyahu ben Mordechai, Mashah Tzivyah bas R’ Shlomo Zalman, Altah Soshah Devorah bas Aryeh Leibush, Chaim ben Shmuel Efraim Zalman, Tuvyah Shlomo ben Naftali Tzvi HaKohein; Yisroel ben Yeshayah, Elisheva Basyah bas Yechiel Ephraim, Leah bas Leib Yehudah, Dovid Pinchas ben Moshe Aharon, Malka Devora Sima bas Meir Nosson, Esther Perel bas R’ Shlomo, Miriam bas Zelig Shaul, Menachem ben Shimon, Menachem ben Zev, Sarah bas HaRav Yisroel, Avraham Yosef ben Meir Dovid, Zushe Yosef ben Shmuel Tzvi, Dovid Tzvi ben Yosef Yochanan, Kayla Rus bas Bunim Tuvia, Dovid ben Uri HaLevi, Dovid Avraham ben Chiya Kehos, Yosef ben Moshe HaLevi and all the other departed souls of our nation.