19 August 2016

Where is the Nechama?

Tisha B’Av has passed
Where is the nechama - the consolation?

The Holy Temple is not built! We are still in exile and our enemies are circling ever closer. “She dwelt among the nations but found no rest” (Lamentations 1:3).

Where is the nechama?

This week we read Moses’s words, “Va’eschanan … I implored G-d … please let me cross and see that good land that is on the other side of the Jordan …” (Deuteronomy 3:23-25). We have been imploring G-d for these thousands of years: “Please let us cross and see the Land as it is supposed to be: Pure, holy, dedicated to You, perfect in righteousness, filled with your loyal children fulfilling the Torah.” And we are still imploring.

Where is the nechama?

There must be nechama! If not, we have no hope, and we are not allowed to live without hope. “In the evening one lies down weeping, but with dawn: a cry of joy! (Psalm 30) In fact, our entire existence depends on eternal hope. Even death does not stop us. “Ani ma’amin b’emunah shelemah … I believe with perfect faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead.”

How do we access nechama?

My friends, I believe that we must be clear about the world situation, because only with clarity can we hope to access nechama. Between now and the redemption there will surely be many challenges, but all our challenges emanate from Heaven, and they are designed to bring us to the level we need to merit Redemption, just as all our challenges in Egypt were designed to bring us to Mount Sinai.

I remember hearing from Rav Matisyahu Salomon Shlita”h the following words in the name of the Chofetz Chaim: There will be three wars before the Messiah. The first was the First World War. The second, predicted by the Chofetz Chaim before his passing in 1933, was the Second World War. And the third (assuming that we do not return to G-d before then) will usher in the Final Redemption.

But here is the huge innovation: the third war will be different from the first two, in that the Angel of Death will in the final war have no power to harm the righteous tzaddikim! What constitutes a tzaddik? One who has adherence to G-d and perceives the emptiness of the surrounding culture! But these simple words require a life-changing shift of perception. Adherence to G-d depends on our perception of the emptiness of the surrounding culture. King David tells us, “It is better to take refuge in G-d than to rely on man” (Psalm 118). That implies separation from the surrounding culture, but in general we are submerged in Esau’s culture!

Most of us do not want to understand that the surrounding culture is Esau. We are so used to living here that we think it is normal. We expect them to be our friends. At the recent Democratic convention, a speech was made reminiscent of Nazi Germany. We are shocked when they are not nice to us, but in fact “Esav soneh es Yaakov … Esau hates Jacob” (Rashi on Genesis 33:4). We have very little trouble understanding that Ishmael is not our culture, but we have a huge amount of trouble understanding that Esau is not our culture.

It seems, from the words of the Chofetz Chaim, that, in order to get through the Birthpangs of the Messiah, we must understand this vital fact and distance ourselves from those who are not only not our friends, but whose essence is to hate us.

The Yated recently carried a fascinating article commemorating the passing of the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l. The article contained the following quotation: “The Rebbe … warned his followers against becoming too close to the non-Jews of America…. [He said that] the main cause of the destruction of [Judaism] in the previous generation is the fact the Jews suffered [almost] no persecution from the goyim when they came [to America]…. This led them to be taken in by the pleasures of the land and … its non-Jewish inhabitants, and they slowly began to mingle with [them] and learn from their deeds…”

A friend asked me several months ago why many of my articles focus on the theme of the Birthpangs of the Messiah. The answer is that our world is literally turning upside down. If we are not prepared for the earth-shaking events that are right now beginning, then I just don’t know how we are going to survive. For example, I mentioned several times the Zika Virus, whose effects go way beyond the disease itself. I mentioned the amazing fact that the scientific name of the mosquito which transmits this virus is “Aedes Aegypti,” – pronounced “Aidus Egyptai” – which can be understood as “a witness to the events in (ancient) Egypt.” Don’t tell me this is coincidence!

Imagine that you were a Jewish writer before the Flood. Would you have discussed anything else but this man Noah, who was building a huge ark in order to save himself, his family and the entire animal kingdom from the impending world-wide flood? There was one story and one story only! Noah was building the ark in public to alert the world that a deluge was coming!

Imagine that you were a Jewish writer before the exodus from Egypt. Would you have discussed anything else beside the upcoming Redemption? This was to be the most important event in history since the Flood! How could one write about anything else? Everyone had to choose life and follow Moses! Those who didn’t were lost, sadly, in the plague of darkness!

Today our choice is similar. We have free will to cleave to G-d and reject the emptiness which surrounds us. Although it is extremely difficult to disentangle ourselves from the web of sticky threads binding us to the culture of Esau, our lives depend on it.

May we all merit soon in our days to experience the ultimate nechama with the coming of the Messiah! “V’sechezena ainainu b’shuv’cha l’tzion berachamim … May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in compassion!”

© Copyright 2016 by Roy S. Neuberger


GoldieZP said...


Anonymous said...

Beautiful article. As usual, Roy Neuberger is so uplifting. A yasher koach, Neshama. Your blog is great!!!

Moriah said...

I think you will like this video:


GoldieZP said...

The video is very nice Moriah. Thanks for putting up the link. May I ask why it is that you have been through the years leaving on geula blogs but not creating a blog of your own. I am sure you would have a lot to offer in your posts. Just a thought. a gutten shabbos