Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Israel cries out. You must return

There’s a man named, Rabbi Mendel Kessin. He gave a shiur (lecture) last month during the nine days, just before Tisha B’Av, 5775. I’m going to share some of that lecture with you.

You may not agree with what you’ll read here. You may feel there are errors. The errors are mine, not Rabbi Kessin’s. I don’t quote to you everything he said in the way he said it.

There’s a gemara (excerpt from the Talmud) in (the Tractate) B’rachot (page 3a) that tells us that, three times a day, HaShem our G-d ‘roars like a lion’—in agitation and anguish. HaShem our G-d agonizes over the destruction of His Holy Temple, the destruction of His Holy City Jerusalem, and the exile of his people, the Jews. He cries out, ‘woe to the children’.

 His anguish is doubled. He suffers first because He had to destroy His Holy House and His Holy City. He suffers because He had to exile His beloved children. His children had sinned. They had defiled themselves. They had defiled what was Pure.

But Hashem suffers also because he wants to pull his people out of the ongoing defilement called, exile. He suffers because His beloved people don’t want to move.

HaShem our G-d wants us to return to Him. He wants that return because, in one way or another, our Redemption is linked to that return. He suffers because we refuse Him.

He loves us. He’s created three tools to help us return. First, he created Mitzvot, actions of Torah observance. Second, he gave us t’shuva—repentance and spiritual return. Then third, he gave us another tool, in case we should fail to use the first two tools.

He gave us suffering.

That suffering takes many forms: exile, financial bankruptcy, job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, etc. Our suffering causes unbearable pain. That pain motivates us to turn to HaShem.

Our suffering creates two results. First, it returns us to G-d. But it also returns G-d to us.

That’s the whole point of history. Through our sins, G-d removed His Presence from us. Now, because we suffer, we call out to Him. That calling out brings Him back into the world.

This process is a tikun. It’s a healing. It’s a correction. It’s a path of healing He gives to us so we can link to Redemption.

Why does suffering bring HaShem back into the world? We don’t know for certain. But we can guess: it’s the G-dly counterpoint that nullifies Man’s war against G-d.

Since Adam and Eve, Man’s wanted to be Boss. That’s what the forbidden ‘fruit’ was all about in the Garden of Eden: eat this ‘fruit’, the seducer said, and you’ll become like G-d.

That’s what Man wants. He wants to be Boss.

Either unconsciously or consciously, Man bridles against authority. He wants to be G-d himself. Either that, or he wants to kill G-d (heaven forbid) or dismiss G–d.

Suffering teaches us that Man isn’t the Boss. He isn’t in charge. He’s got no authority. In fact, he’s helpless.

There are two roads to Redemption. The first is the preferred road—through Mitzvot (observance) and t’shuva (repentance). The second road is the painful road—through suffering, particularly the suffering, humiliation and defilement of exile.

HaShem is in agony three times a day because Man—through his free will—has forced HaShem to use suffering to bring us back to Him.

Suffering works. We don’t want that pain. But it refines us. It prompts us to turn to HaShem.

The humiliation humbles us. We don’t want to be humiliated. But it happens—and it teaches us that our own power is useless. It helps us to return us to HaShem.

The defilement of exile purifies us. We hate exile. We hate the defilement. But it reminds us that purification will come only through Redemption. It motivates us to return to HaShem in order to hasten that purification.

Today, Israel suffers. She has been isolated, demonized and criminalized. Many of her own people spit on her.

She is humiliated by both gentile and Jew. She is discredited, disgraced and dishonored.

She cries out, woe to me. The sins of my people overwhelm me with grief. The defilement of my enemies smears me with a guilt that is both false and threatening.

She cries out, ‘woe to my children’. What will become of us?

You must help. You have the power to help. You can help by returning spiritually to your religion and physically to your homeland.

Return now. Return to the Land that is HaShem’s Promise. Call out to your Father for Israel’s safety.

Return: you must return. You must come home. You must return now.

Will you?

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