15 April 2016



Behold, I send you Elijah the Prophet, before the great and awesome day of G-d. He shall restore the hearts of fathers to children and the heart of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with destruction” (Malachi 3:23-24; Haftara reading of Shabbos Hagadol).

This is the prelude to Passover. Unless the hearts of the fathers and children are aligned, then the alternative is indeed destruction, G-d forbid! The return of the lost children and the unity of the Jewish people is not simply good; it is a prerequisite for life.

“Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Master of the Universe (ibid). This is the season when life returns to the earth, and it teaches us the reality of the Ressurection of the Dead. There is nothing so breathtaking as the blossoms that burst upon the trees. They cause us to gasp at their beauty, to such an extent that our Sages have ordained that we make a blessing upon them in which we bless G-d for causing “pleasure” to mankind.

Why is our “pleasure” cause for reciting a blessing? Because the pleasure is that death has been defeated, that our life in this world is not doomed to end with dust and worms, but that – if our soul is attached to the Source of Life – it will live to eternity. This is how we were able to overcome Egypt and how we are able to overcome all physical constraints. Egypt, which was illusion and falsehood, was destroyed and vanished, but we marched to Mount Sinai and received the Torah! “They slumped and fell, but we were invigorated. G-d save! May the King answer on the day we call” (Psalm 20).

I want to tell you a story which will demonstrate that nothing can stand in the way of our redemption. Anyone who says “It’s all over!” or “It’s hopeless!” … is wrong.

We were in a yeshiva in Russia. Friday night a young, handsome chazan (prayer leader), maybe nineteen years old, prayed beautifully. I was sitting to his left. After praying, I happened to see the other side of his face. It was completely different. It was covered with a disfiguring growth. This very handsome young man had a terrible blemish. How could he hope for a normal life?

After Shabbos, our group spoke to the Rosh Yeshiva about this young man. It seems that he had already had surgery in Russia, but it had been unsuccessful. One of our people had an idea. He knew a nurse in New York, a baalas teshuva who had spent many Shabboses at his home. This nurse “happened to” work in the operating room of the surgeon who “happened to be” the world’s greatest authority on this exact type of skin condition. With the Rosh Yeshiva’s encouragement, he emailed the nurse, even enclosing pictures, and described the condition.

Back in New York several weeks later, a group of Jews got together and raised the money for Dmitri – not his real name, of course – to fly to New York for an evaluation with possible surgery to remove this disfiguring condition. Shortly afterwards, Dmitri boarded a plane in Moscow, accompanied by his devoted mother, and they flew to New York. Dmitri had surgery and the blemish was completely removed in a delicate and dangerous operation. Jews opened their homes to him until he was finally was able to return to Moscow. Twice more he flew to New York for follow-up treatments. At the end of the procedure, he was a handsome and beautiful young man when viewed from either side!

Several weeks ago there was a wedding in Moscow. Tears of joy flowed like a fountain as Dmitri and his bride were united under the wedding canopy. All of Israel rejoiced together, because Jews across the globe had worked together to bring redemption to this young couple. An apparently-hopeless situation turned to joy as the “impossible” happened once again to the Children of Israel. “In the evening one lies down weeping, but with dawn … a cry of joy” (Psalm 30).

We are the nation of “impossible” redemptions! It is “impossible” that we still exist! It is “impossible” that we were saved from Egypt. It is “impossible” that we were saved from Haman, and “impossible” that we were saved from Hitler, may his very name be erased! It is also “impossible” that we will be saved from our current enemies, who surround us and will stop at nothing to carry out their evil plans.

It would be “impossible” if the Ruler of the Universe were not beside His Chosen Nation. But He loves us and has promised to send “Elijah the Prophet before the great and awesome day of G-d. He shall restore the hearts of fathers to children and the heart of children to their fathers.…” He will redeem us forever, so that we will merit to be reunited with Him at the Great wedding canopy which will bind us forever as one.

Despite our blemishes, G-d sees the beauty of our features. He will heal us and reunite with us in the wedding soon to take place, as it says, “It shall be on that day that the L-rd will once again show His hand to acquire the remnant of His people …. He will raise a banner for the nations and assemble the castaways of Israel and He will gather in the dispersed ones of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:11-12).

During Passover we read these words: “Flee, my Beloved, from our common exile and be like a gazelle or a young hart in Your swiftness to redeem and rest Your Presence among us on the fragrant Mount Moriah, site of Your Temple” (Song of Songs 8:14).

May we see it soon, in our days!

© Copyright 2016 by Roy S. Neuberger

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