February 1st, 2009
Mrs. Raizy Guttman
Es Tzemach Dovid = The outgrowth of Moshiach. It is so appropriate that next week is going to be Tu b'Shvat, which is the birthday of the Trees [next Monday]. We are going to be talking about the tzemach - the plant of Dovid. The first words of this beautiful blessing are "May the outgrowth of Dovid, Your servant quickly sprout" The book Avodah Shebalev says that this tefillah [prayer] is talking about the actual arrival of the Messiah. [Jerimiah 33:15] "In those days and at that time, I will sprout for David a sprout of righteousness and I will bring rightousness and justice to the land" This blessing is based on this verse. The word tzemach which means a plant, in numerical value equals the word menachem. The gemarah explains that Menachem is one of the names of Moshiach and King David. As it says in [6:12, Zechariah] "Behold there is a man, and Tzemach is his name. From him will grow out the sanctuary of G-d." The coming of Moshiach will take place like a plant growing out from the earth. A plant is one of the most miraculous things in the world! We dont even realize what an absolute miracle every blade of grass, and tree is. Before a seed can grow it must be able to completely rot in the ground first. When there is nothing left except its blueprint, it will grow roots. The earth knows exactly what to produce from that rotted seeds. When it's done, it begins to grow upward which is totally against nature. Finally it comes up as a small bud and finally grows into a plant/tree etc. Moshiach similiarly is a slow process. When the destruction of the Temple took place was the begining of the process of the Moshiach. The rotting seed is a parable to all of our suffering. It was all for the eventual outgrowth of Moshaich. Its only through caring for this small "shoot" with sunlight [Torah] and water [tears and prayers] we will be able to bring Moshiach closer. It will be the combined tears and Torah learning that will finally merit the redemption. Some say "How can we, small people bring Moshiach??" The answer is that the great and righteous people of the past did their share in bringing the Moshiach. They brought Moshiach that much closer through their deeds. Now we have to build upon what they did. We hope that we can merit that small bud to pop out of the ground and Moshiach will finally arrive! The problem is that just like the Jewish people have been working to bring Moshiach, the exile has been working very hard for us NOT to bring the Moshiach! Psalms 106:35 - "We mingled with the gentiles and we learnt from their deeds". The first and worst lesson that we have adopted from the goyim is that we have learnt to hate each other. There is so much racial and ethnic hate in the world and we Jews have adopted this terrible traight. Instead of appreciating all the different types of Jews there are, we have learnt to hate each other. This is one of the main things that we have to work on. Rav Schwab says that we have also lost 2 of the distinguishing traights of the Jew. They are characterized by three things "Shyness, Merciful, Kind". These are known as Jewish traits. 2 out of the three have been lost in this exile. The character trait of shyness is gone. Since the entire world has lost morality and decency, we have been affected as well. Years ago a simple gentile understood what modesty was. Nowadays it is completely lost and we Jews also lost our embarrassment. Mercifulness= we Jews have observed so much cruelty around us that we have developed a certain sense of cruelty. This manifests itself in many ways. There are so many ways of killing a person. With a dirty look, with a not nice comment. The concept of an evil eye, looking at someone else and wanting what they have and not being happy for someone else. This is not a Jewish way and yet we unfortunately see that these ideas are prevelant among the Jewish people.
Rena Tarshish gave a shiur about Gaza. She said the fact that Jewish boys have to go out there and actively kill people, it’s not a Jewish trait! When Jacob went out to meet his brother Esav. It caused him pain. Rashi says that on the one hand he was pained because on the one hand maybe he would kill, or maybe because he would be killed. He was just as afraid at the thought of having to kill someone as the fear of being killed.
Violence is not a Jewish trait and yet she was saying that the fact that we are put in the position to go out and kill people shows that G-d is saying that we have this middah of cruelty in ourselves. The middah of killing people with words and our facial expressions is something that we have to work on so that we wont have to be involved in any sort of violence. This exile has affected us.
But Rav Shwab says that the trait of gomlei chassadim [trait of kindness] remains very clear in the Jewish nation, even throughout the entire galus. I always love that when you open up a telephone book in Israel you have lists and lists of families that just want to do everything for you with their gemach. Mouse traps, pacifiers, anything in the world you could possibly imagine, you look it up in the telephone book and you have these lists. Because Jews love to give. There is much kindness that goes on among the Jews. We have to bring Moshiach very quickly so we don’t lose this too!!
“May the shoots of Your servant David, may it sprout quickly” Although we just described the process of growth as very slow, we beg Hashem to speed it up. We have no idea what is going on with that seed under that ground. We don’t even know that there is a seed at all. All the hard work is taking place under the ground. All the toiling and the roots that are being set are something that we can’t see we can’t see how strong they are, we don’t know what’s going on. Yet suddenly out of the cold dark earth, in one second, pop! Something pops out. A tiny green plant pops out without any prior notice. The Prophet Malachi says [3:1] “I will send my messenger and he will clear the way before me. Suddenly he will come into the palace, the master whom you are speaking”. It says in the verse that the Moshiach will come suddenly! For 2,000 years we’ve been doing everything we can to bring Moshiach and suddenly out of nowhere he is going to pop up!
The Gemarah says that Moshiach is one of the things that come unexpectedly. That’s why it says “Quickly let it sprout”
But we have to continue with our preparation. Rav Simcha Hakohen Kook said: “man is compared to a tree. Because a tree grows upward completely against the laws of nature.” If you hold anything up and let go, what’s going to happen? It aint going to go up! It will automatically fall down, that’s called gravity and nature. That’s the way the world works. Things go from up to down. The only thing that goes from down to up are plants and people. They go against gravity and nature and grow upward. The message of the trees and the plants and the message of tu bishvat. The message is that man too is like that tree and we too must go against our nature. Not just physically but spiritually. This is the message of calling moshiach the Sprout of David, Your servant. Only by being the true servant of G-d did David merit that the moshaich should come through him. We can hurry up the sprouting of moshiach by going against our nature and doing those things that are difficult. Nullifying our will for G-ds. By constantly growing spiritually through Torah and prayer, this is how we can help the sprouting of Moshiach and go upwards in our ascent in our relationship with G-d.
“The horn of Moshiach should be raised up through Your salvation, G-d” Why the word horn? It’s a metaphor for power. When we say “May your horn be raised” we are really saying “May your power be raised up.” The power and strength of an animal is in a horn, that’s how an animal attacks his enemies. One idea is to attack the enemies with this horn. Another idea with a horn is that Keren also means a ray of light. Shemos [34:35] “The face of Moses radiated light”. This is the spiritual power of moshe that radiated from his house. This is the dual power of Moshiach: he will destroy the enemies just like the animal gores his enemies. Like it says in Isiah [11:4] “Moshiach will strike the world with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lip he will slay the wicked.” We see the tremendous power that Moshiach has. His strength is his mouth, the breath of his lips. Moshiach is not going to be some sort of superman and all of a sudden he’s going to pull out his machine gun and kill all the wicked people! He is going to be a great and righteous person. He’s going to use his mouth to pray to G-d to destroy the enemies, and G-d will. His other power to be able to inspire the entire Jewish nation and elevate them to state of being completely righteous. He will bring everyone back to Israel to live completely spiritual lives.
The horn symbolizes the dual power of the Moshiach, to destroy the wicked and spiritually elevate the righteous. Those who merit to be uplifted by raising themselves up now. iF we don’t do our share now, moshiach wont come and make us into tzadikim. Our life in this world is so that we can raise ourselves up and reach a level that moshiach can raise us up afterwards. We have to live as true servants of G-d.
As much as we pray for moshiach we have to remember that G-d is the true salvation. G-d will raise up moshiach.
“His horn [power] will be raised up with YOUR salvation” We ask for the salvation of G-d because that’s the only true salvation.
Navi Zechariyah [9:9] “A righteous man, he will be among those who are saved”. He’s going to be redeemed together with the rest of the people. This is why the next words are “For Your salvation, G-d, we hope for all day.” We are waiting for G-d Himself. “There is no other redeemer except You”
Rabbi Avigdor Miller says that these words are the reason we will merit the redemption, because we eagerly await the moshaich.
This gives us a tremendous insight on how to bring Moshiach: We have to truly wait and hope for him the whole day!! We are showing G-d that we have emunah in G-d and we are hoping for moshaich all the time.
One of thequestions a Jew is asked after 120 is “Did you anticipate the final redemption? By having real kavanah in these words, we will be able to answer yes! Rabbi Leff says that the words “Metzapim Leyeshua” [found in the Sefard version of the siddur]. “We are eagerly awaiting Your salvation”. Rabbi Leff says that these words were added because the people used to right this in their siddur in the margin. This is the mitzvah of waiting for Moshiach. When you say this blessing, realize that if you have intention when you say these words, you are getting a mitzvah! That is a question that we’ll be asked after 120 and if you say this with good intention, you’ll be able to answer G-d and say YES! I did anticipate the Moshiach!
The words “For Your salvation, We hope” It comes from the words of hope. What is the difference between trust and hope? Are we trusting that Hashem will bring Moshiach or are we hoping?
Trust in G-d means that one is calm and relaxed because he knows that G-d is taking care of him. It doesn’t mean that G-d will give him whatever he wants, but he knows that whatever G-d knows is good, He will do it.
Hope is knowing full well that he cant trust in his own good deeds, he hopes anyway that G-d will save him. In that merit, G-d will answer him. It’s a wish. I know that I’m not worthy, but I have hope anyway. In the merit of my hope should make me worthy. Our constant hoping an d praying is the merit that will ultimately bring moshiach. How do we make this a reality? By saying these tefillos with real kavanah. Number one we’re davening; properly, number two we cause ourselves to merit bringing the geula. Three we get a mitzvah of anticipating the moshiach. A second way of making this a reality If we’re divining that moshiach should come, how could we make this real? Rabbi Leff says to conjure up images in our mind of what the world would look like when moshiach comes. The Rambam speaks about it and says “In that time, there will be no famine, war, jealousy or competition. Good things will be plentiful and all the pleasures will be available like dust. The world will only be occupied with the increasing knowledge of G-d. Therefore the Jewish people will be great sages knowing all the hidden things and understanding the mind of their creator as much as possible. The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d.” The physical world will continue. There will be food, drink and physical pleasures. There wont be jealousy or competition. People will only be interested in spirituality and knowledge of G-d. There will be peace of love because there wont be jealousy. The good gentiles will also get their reward.
It will be like going on a Jerusalem GEM tour! Spend every day learning and drinking it in, and being in Jerusalem. A completely spiritual experience. The experience of the GEM will be a drop in the bucket when Moshiach comes!
Imagine being in a world where everything is focused on growing and learning! The world will be filled with knowledge of G-d. When you think about you just have to get excited! This is really how we can anticipate the Redemption
Yesterday I was in Bnei Brak with my family and my parents. We went for Shabbos and decided to walk over to Rebbitzen Kanievsky. They are the great leaders of our generation. She is the daughter of Rav Elyashiv. She in her own right is a great, special, warm loving person. We were able to go in and speak with her. We had an unbelievable and spiritual experience. She told us this story:Before Moshiachs arrival, ruach hakodesh will be given over to fools and children. Recently, her grandson woke up one morning and he was crying out of excitement. He jumped out of bed and he was so excited. He ran to his parents and told them he had a dream that he saw moshiachs arrival! He said “I saw the priests, the Jews coming to Jerusalem”! He said it was beautiful. He came to speak to his grandfather, and said to him “I also want to work in the holy Temple! I want to be part of it but I’m not a kohen!!” Rav Chaim looked at him and told him that “You are a first born and you too will work in the Holy Temple” And the child was crying out of joy that he would work there.
Rebbitzen Kanievsky looked at us and said “We better get ready! Moshiach is coming very very soon!!”
We know that the Torah does not calculate the exact time of Moshiach. We can bring him earlier. The details concerning moshaich are left out of the oral and written torah. We do have definite signs and such from the prophets. We have general ideas because we need to have a goal and purpose for life and we need to love and fear G-d. With this we can understand the idea of our rabbis that we should not calculate when Moshiach would come. If you count on Moshiach coming at a certain time and he doesn’t, it can be very discouraging. But we do see that sages made calculations. When the malbim was asked why he could do such a thing, he answered as follows:A man set out on a 6 month journey with his son. After an hour the kid asked how much longer it would take. The father slapped him and told him not to ask such questions. After 5 ½ months of the journey, and the father asked the driver “How much longer?” And the child looked at him and said Tatti! Why is it that when I asked this, I got a slap… but it was ok for you to ask it? The father said – when you asked, there were 6 months left to go. If I would have told you that you would have been very upset. But now theres only a short time left and the answer will be a source of eager anticipation. So too with Moshiach. Back then, if you would have calculated the time that it would take for moshiach to come, it would have brought a loss of hope. But now it’s a real source of encouragement.
When I heard this, I thought of my bubby. She went through the war and at the very end, the Germans knew it was just a matter of time. So they made a death march. They made everyone line up and march. For 5 months they marched right out of Poland into Czechoslovakia. She told me “If I would have known then that we would have marched for 5 months, I would have laid down on the floor and died right then and there.” The galus – the exile, its one long death march! But now the redemption is so close and it’s in sight. It must become a march of the living. Those of us who are merited to live in such a holy generation! We see the signs of Moshiachs arrival! We have to become a part of the march of the living, striving to bring Moshiach as quickly as possible We end with “Blessed are you G-d, who causes the horn of salvation to sprout” These three words, sprout, horn and salvation are the three ideas we speak about in this blessing. Sprout is the gradual process so that the power of the horn can be realized so that the salvation of G-d can be experienced in its totality. May we all merit to see and be part of this awesome experience, may it arrive in our time and our day!
You’ve got questions? She’s got answers!
Q: In the interlinear siddur it translates the word Keren differently. It translates it as pride, why is this different than the horn?
A: That’s interesting, when I prepared I used about 10 different books! Not one of them translated it as pride, but I do remember seeing that in the interlinear. I didn’t see that explanation anywhere. I will try to find out.
Q: Will all the people benefit from Moshiach or just the Jews? If so, do they have to do anything specific? Will this basically be a socialistic society regardless of their input?
A: These are very good questions. Yes, it wont just be for the Jews. The good gentiles will also get their reward. They just have to be good! They have 7 mitzvos. In order to be a good goy, they have to keep those laws and be good people. According to how much they have put into their own development, to that extent they will get rewarded. Because we have that many more commandments we will have that much more reward. Like it says that when moshiach comes, the whole world will be filled with knowledge of G-d! Yes, the whole world will be filled with knowledge. When you look at the ocean, it looks like its just one level, but in reality the ocean goes very deep. Every person, depending on how deep they immersed themselves during their lifetime and how much they invested, to that extent will their knowledge of G-d be supplemented by moshiach to reach G-d. And every person will be judged according to their own circumstances. You might look at someone and say “Wow, that person is such a tzadik!” And someone else is just OK. But we don’t know what the truth is. Who knows how far someone came.
Q: along that line then, there wont be any more jealousy. If people will have different leveles of understanding G-d, wouldn’t that lead to more jealousy? And why would non-Jews convert to Judaism? And what would happen to people who don’t merit anything?
A: The greatest merit a non-Jew can receive is nothing compared to what a Jew can achieve! Like we said, what you invest is what you get. The repercussions are that much greater as well.
[Necha Golda]: Wouldn’t it be comparable to senior managers who have more responsibility so they have higher wages than lets say, a mailroom clerk?Q: But there you do have jealousy in the work world!
A: There is something called “kina’as sofrim” Every characteristic in the world has a positive and negative side to it. There are some character traits to stay far away from like arrogance. But even in arrogance there is something good. For instance, Jewish Pride! That comes from the umbrella characteristic called arrogance. There is a positive side to Jealousy also. Kinas sofrim is when a person envies a persons spiritual level and you desire to be greater because someone else has a higher level of spirituality. And we really grow from that. When Moshaich comes, since the driving force will be spirituality, the only type of jealousy will be this sort of jealousy.
Q: So when are we at that high level, will we be able to continue to grow? And what about the people who don’t merit it?
A: The wicked people who had opportunities and threw them away, they will not merit the redemption. They’re at a loss. And the rest of us will continue to grow spiritually. That will be a job of moshiach according to the level of wanting. The most important aspect of a person is to develop his desires.
Q: Can Moshiach be a woman?
A: As far as I know, No. Not because a woman is not spiritual enough because women are more spiritual than men. It seems like women are taking the back seats [and backseat drivers are the ones who get you places J]. A man is like a tree. He is out there standing tall. Everyone looks at the tree. But the tree is only there because of the roots. The roots are under the ground and however strong the roots are that’s how much the tree will blossom and flourish. The woman is the root of it all. Because she is so holy and spiritual, she must remain modest. When you have something very precious you don’t just leave it out. It could get defiled. A sefer Torah for instance is one of the most holy objects. Its rolled up, closed, with a cloak and a crown, in the Ark, with closed doors and curtains. There are so many coverings because that sefer torah is very holy and precious. If you have 10,000 dollar diamond you would lock it up in the safe. There are special times when the sefer torah is taken out… So too the woman is the source of energy and strength for her husband. Because she is so holy she must remain hidden otherwise she loses her special power. It comes from her hidden ness. Therefore a woman cant be moshiach. She is probably bringing moshiach! “In the merit of righteous women our forefathers were redeemed from mitzrayim, and in the merit of the righteous women we will also be redeemed!” We have tremendous merit and much of it is in the merit of our hidden ness and modesty.
Q: Does that mean Moshiach will be married?
A: Yes, because a man without a woman is incomplete.