Dec 14, 2008

Blessing of Ingathering Exiles

  • December 14, 2008
  • Mrs. Raizy Guttman
  • Comment on last week's class: this might help to clarify the issue. We were talking about the blessing of Livelihood. There were some really great questions and something hit me that i thought might help to clarify the ideas we were speaking about.
  • If you look at this blessing we say the words "Barech" "Blessing" at least four or five times. If you think about the word for Blessing the root is beis reish and chof. 2, 200 and 20 in numerical value.
  • Each number gives us the message of multiplicity. In all the spheres of numbers we're talking about more than one. The root of what a blessing really is is multiplicity.
  • This is what we're asking for in this blessing. How MUCH we're going to make is decided on Rosh Hashana.
  • That which we have should be a blessing. That which we already have should be blessed.
    We ask G-d to bless our alotted amount to be stretched and go as far as it possibly can.
    This should be our intention when we say this blessing.
  • We are up to the 10th blessing!
  • It is the first blessing in the blessings for the redemption. 10 usually signified completion and perfection.
  • We say "Blow the great big shofar for our freedom!" The Avudraham quotes that the order of the next 7 blessings is the order in which the final redemption will take place. These are the steps in the order in which they will occur.
  • In this blessing we will discuss the first 3 steps of how the moshiach will come.
    We should recite this blessing broken heartedly begging Hashem to redeem us!
  • We start with the words "Sound the great shofar for our freedom!" Where are these from? Isiah 27:13, "And on that day He will blow on the great shofar and the lost ones will come from the land of assyria and the scattered ones in the land of Egypt. and they will all bow down to G-d on the holy mountain in Jerusalem." Which shofar exactly are we reffering to? Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa says that there was no part of the ram from the sacrifice of Isaac went to waste. The left horn of the ram was used at mount sinai when the Jews accepted the Torah. The right horn will be used for when Moshiach comes. It will signify that we are finally free.What are we going to be free from? Oppression and subservience to other nations, all the isms - communism, socialism, zionism etc.
  • More importantly: We will be free from the influences of all outward societies!!
  • Throughout history people have wanted to destroy our soul and this is the deeper meaning of the pasuk from Isiah: The lost souls will come back in the land of assyria. Why doesn't it say FROM the land of assyria? The hebrew word for Assyria is Ashur. Ashur means wealth. We ourselves are the lost ones in the land of wealth.
  • "Its harder to take the exile out of the Jew than to take the Jew out of the Exile".
  • We are inculcated with lust for power, money, the body and these have all had a terribly negative imact on our morals. We are considered lost in a world of contradictions.
    The Jew is always the one who is singled out for suffering and many have gone astray because of the unending suffering of the Jew.
  • The promise of bringing back all the lost and scattered ones means that we will all come home to freedom. We will be free from all the physical and spiritual shackles and we will be free to serve G-d.
  • The mishna in Pirkei avos: There is no free man except for one who is involved in Torah
    Often people think the opposite is true!! Religious Jews have all these restrictions! But me? I'm free and I can do and look at whatever I want! This is the farthest from the truth. But one who is bound by Torah law has a truly liberated soul. The more carefully he follows the commandments of the torah the more he will see how the mitzvos help him to becomea better and happier person. The more he learns the Jewish law that partains to everything the more he can raise himself up above negative thoughts, ideals. etc. A person who is not following Torah is a slave to his passions. He is a slave to his passing whims and is dictated by whatever standards society demands for morality. Which nowadays is practically nill. If a person isn't bound by Torah law he is a slave to whatever is out there. The torah has laws for just about everything!
  • Lisa Aiken says: All our laws of Torah are compared to strings on a violin. If the strings are let loose you cannot play. When they are tightly bound you can play beautiful music!
  • The next words are "Raise up a miracle [banner] to gether our exiles"
  • These words are based on a verse in Isiah 11:12, "And a banner will be raised among the nations and will gather all the scattered in Israel, and all the scattered in Judah will be gathered from the forecorners of the earth".
  • We learn that when Moshiach comes we will know it in two ways: One is through hearing and one is through seeing. The revelation through our eyes will be greater than through our ears. You can't compare hearing about something to seeing it. "Seeing is believing"
    When G-d gave the Torah at Sinai it says "The whole nation SAW the voices and the torches of fire" This doesnt make sense! You can't see voices! Nope, G-d created a one time phenomonea that they should SEE what normally can only be heard! This is a banner of G-ds glory.
  • On the day that Moshiach comes we will see clearly that there is only one G-d.
    Rashi explains in Numbers 21:8 "Since the banner is high up as a sign and for one to see with his eyes, thats why its called a banner. Its for the nations of the worlds to see so that they will send the Jewish people with honor."
  • This brings us to the next words in the blessing: "G-d will gather us together to the four corners of the earth" It would have been enough to say "gather us" but WE say "Gather us together" Rav Avigdor Miller shows us that it says "Gather" To teach us that the most important tool to bring the Moshiach is to be able to be together.
  • Human nature will continue as before when moshiach comes. Rambam tells us that the world will follow its accostumed nature. There wont be persecution and oppresion but the nature of people will still be the same. If we dont train ourselves to get along with everyone now, we wont be able to merit being part of the Moshiach.
  • Rav Simcha Bunim said that he learned a very important lesson from his aleph bais teacher. He writes a Yud on the board and says "Kids, this is a Yid" "When you put two Yidden next to each other, it makes up the name of G-d" the children asked "Does that mean ANY two yuds make up the name of G-d? If one is on top and the other on the bottom, is that still the name of G-d?" He said "No, only when to the two Yidden are together that makes up the name of G-d."
  • There was a woman who was in a very big fight with another woman in the community. Everyone knew that these two women did not get along. One of the womens sons got engaged and she started planning the wedding. She decided that she feels very bad about the whole incident and she's going to invite her to the wedding. She called her up to ask her if she could come to make a public statement that they made peace. She told her, listen, whatever happened, happened. I want everyone to know that we're not fighting anymore. The wedding's on February 13, can you come? The other woman was very touched and she said i would LOVE to come but on that day I can't come, I have an important medical procedure and I can't come. The first woman decided that she would change the date of the wedding. She called up the hall and asked if they could change the date. Her son said it was fine, and the manager of the hall said that they have an available date February 15th. He wrote down in his book that this family booked the hall. On February 13th he forgot to cross out this family had changed their date, so he didn't rebook the hall. The hall had two floors and the manager booked the top floor but not the bottom floor. On February 13th there was a terrible tragedy where in the middle of the wedding the top floor of the hall crashed down into the bottom floor. If there would have been a wedding on the bottom floor that night, for sure there would have been many people killed. Because this woman wanted to make peace she spared the whole family and all her guests all in the merit of peace.
  • If we would only realize the power of our unity we would have surely brought moshiach long ago. Sinas chinam - baseless hatred is what causes this lack of harmony and unity. When we say these words for G-d to gather us together, we have to BE together in order for us to be gathered.
  • How can we practically work on this idea of unity? When Jacob gathered his sons together on his death bed he said "Gather yourselves together and I will tell you that which will call to you at the end of days" Many people think that this means - "that which will happen to you at the end of days" but the word is actually "that which will call". He says I will tell you what your calling will be at the end of days. "Gather yourselves and listen Sons of Jacob" He says - stick together as the sons of Yaakov. And the word listening is an important word.
  • The concept of Listening is one that is so important nowadays. In the world that we live in today everyone is running to psychologists when really we just need someone to listen to us, respect us and validate us. Sometimes you'll see two people having a conversation but its not a dialogue. It's a two way monologue. Ever saw this? Neither are really listening to each other. They're talking to hear themselves speak! One small and practical way to promote peace is by showing someone that you care, making eye contact, putting your hand on their shoulder.
  • LISTEN and SILENT are the same letters! The only way to listen to someone else is to be silent in your mouth and in your mind.
  • Rav Pam used to say that there are three yiddish words that are the three keys to peace:
  • Fargin, Farkook, Fargess
  • Fargin: allow someone else to have something good and to be happy for them even if you feel that it was coming to you! You thought it was yours and to "Fargin" them is to rejoice in their sucess
  • Rabbi Frands story: Two neighbors Reuven and Shimon. Everymorning Reuven would get the paper at his doorstep. The paper would come at 730, and Reuven wouldnt open his door until 745! Shimon would wait until the paper came and quickly run and take the paper and read it. He would fold it up exactly the way it was and put it back down in front of Reuvens door. This was a morning ritual. A couple of days after Shimon was doing this, Reuven realized that someone was reading his paper! Reuven decided to wake up very early and see who was reading his paper? He looks out his window and sees Shimon come and grab the paper. Reuven is SO angry! He waits until Shimon comes back with his paper, and Reuven asks him "Shimon, what are you doing??" "O, I figured you wouldnt mind!" "But its my paper!" "But you don't read it before 745 anyway, so whats the big deal? What do you care?" Reuven says "Its my paper, who gives you the right to touch it?" They ended up having a big fight. Reuven was so angry and Shimon couldn't understand what the problem was. Finally Reuven goes to his Rav to ask him for advice. Shimon was still taking the paper every morning and Reuven was ready to kill him. He tells his Rabbi the whole story, and his Rabbi says to Reuven, "I hear what you're saying, its very distressful situation and I have a great idea for you! You should buy a subscription to the paper for Shimon. How much does it cost already? " Reuven was not too thrilled about this but he listens to his rabbi and he goes and orders a subscription to his neighbor. The next morning two papers come. Shimon is ready to take Reuvens paper and sees a paper by his own door! He thinks who could have ordered this paper? He realizes that Reuven ordered it. Shimon is so appreciative of Reuven that he goes and thanks him effusively. Reuven and Shimon had a great relationship after that.
  • This is the sort of thing that happens all the time. To Fargin is to let someone else have the good thing even if we feel it was at our expense.
  • If you can't fargin at least you could Farkook. It means to look away. To not notice everything. Most things in this world are not worth making issues over.
  • If you can't Farkook, and least Fargess - at least you should forget.
  • The Ben Ish Chai says that the power of forgetfullness is actually a characteristic of the satan. Its usually utilized for the negative. But if you can use it for the GOOD you get 100 times more merit than just a regular mitzvah because you're taking the power of the Satan and transfering it to the positive.
  • Another interesting thought is that the words "From the four corners of the world" The word kanfos - corners - come from the word for wings. This is a reference to the uplifting feeling that the whole world will feel once Moshiach come.
  • We end this blessing "Blessed are you G-d who gathers in the dispersed of His people Israel." When we promote peace and act like Jewish people are supposed to act we will merit the gathering in with everyone to Israel
  • We should be zoche the final redemption speedily in our days!

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