04 May 2017

Parshios Acharei-Kedoshim

In Your Blood You Shall Live! 
By Roy Neuberger

I have trouble davening at the Kosel. At the holiest place on earth one can feel very strongly the absence of the Bais Hamikdosh. On a recent visit, I had a powerful sense that the Wall itself was impenetrable, as if my tefillos were bouncing off the massive stones in front of me. How could I daven through this barrier that seemed so impervious to the tears I wanted to shed?

My chavrusa, Rabbi Shaul Geller, had a brilliant insight. The problem is very clear: we are currently on the wrong side of the Wall! When Moshiach comes and we are permitted on Har Habayis, then these massive stones will no longer separate us from the Place of the Shechina! Then we will stand “before the Presence of the L-rd … the G-d of Yaakov, Who turns the rock into a pond of water, the flint into a flowing fountain of water.” (Tehillim 114) 

In these days of Sefira, we are still, Baruch Hashem, very much under the influence of Chag HaPesach. In Biblical times, our ancestors had just emerged from Shibud Mitzraim and were marching toward Har Sinai. We should feel that we too are on that march. Indeed, as I have noted in recent weeks, we should regard the Biblical events as training for the Days of Redemption that are clearly so near. 

As you are aware, I am constantly thinking about the words of the Chofetz Chaim, who said that we can learn about the events of the Geulah Shelemah from that which occurred during Yetzias Mitzraim. Reportedly, both the Chofetz Chaim and Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein zt”l said that, during Ikvos Hamoshicha, the dangerous days leading up to the Final Redemption, those Jews who cling with all their strength to the Ribono shel Olam and reject the surrounding non-Jewish culture will be protected. 

During Pesach I was thinking intensely about this subject. For years I had searched for a Biblical source for this concept. During this Yom Tov, it hit me with tremendous force that the answer was right before my eyes. In fact, it was embarrassing to think how obvious it is. 

Sometimes we are blind to the most straightforward things. I remember hearing Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon shlita”h speaking about the bracha “pokaich ivrim.” It’s not that every morning we should get up and expect to have perfect or even functional vision. No! Every morning we should recognize that we have no intrinsic right to expect to see anything at all! We are not only intrinsically blind, we are in fact intrinsically nonexistent! It is only through the mercy of the Ribono shel Olam that we have life in the first place! Who told us that we have a “right” to see? Who says we are “entitled” to vision? If we are fortunate, Hashem gives us a gift of sight, an amazing present from His infinite largesse! 

Similarly, we can lose an item and spend hours looking for it, only to discover that it was sitting in front of us the entire time! This has often happened to me! Pokaich ivrim! Hashem opens our eyes and we see! 

On Pesach, I realized that guidance for our conduct during Ikvos Hamoshicha is hinted at by events at the end of our slavery in Mitzraim. We call it “Passover” because Hashem passed over the houses of the Yidden at the time of the last Makkah. He saved us because we carefully followed His instructions at the moment of our extreme danger. What were Hashem’s instructions? Our doorways were marked with the blood of the Bris Milah and the Korban Pesach. 

The Chofetz Chaim and Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein stress two life-saving necessities at the time of the Geulah Shelemahdvaykus with Hashem and separation from the culture of the surrounding nations. “In the final war before the coming of Moshiach, all the Jews who fear Hashem will survive. Hashem will say to them, ‘All those who are removed from the secular, worldly culture, you are Mine.’” (Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein quoted in Redemption Unfolding) 

In Mitzraim, the blood of the bris milah demonstrated our complete allegiance to Hashem. Through this mitzvah, we inscribed in our very bodies the commitment to fulfilling His will, and the blood of that commitment was on the doorpost as clear evidence of our allegiance. 

Secondly, the blood of the Korban Pesach demonstrated our rejection of the foreign culture which surrounded us. At the same time as we dedicated our body and soul to Torah through bris milah, we also – and this is the inevitable corollary to Torah – demonstrated our rejection of the culture of the surrounding nation by shechting their avodazara and smearing its blood on the doorpost along with the blood of the milah.

Thus, the words of the Chofetz Chaim and Rabbi Levenstein seem to reflect exactly Hashem’s instructions which saved our ancestors in Mitzraim! This seems to me an amazing source! Just as our ancestors in Mitzraim were saved by their own blood and the blood of the Korban Pesach, so we can be saved in our own times by following the guidance of these Godolim!

As we say at every bris milah to this day, “‘In your blood you shall live!’ And I said to you, ‘in your blood you shall live!’” (Yechezkel 16:6) 

Why do we repeat the phrase, “In your blood you shall live?”
Perhaps we say it once for Yetzias Mitzraim and once for the Geulah Shelemah!

May we soon see the day when, “a staff will grow from the stump of Yishai and a shoot will sprout from his roots…. [Hashem] will raise a banner for the nations and assemble the castaways of Israel; He will gather the dispersed ones of Yehudah from the four corners of the earth.” (Yeshiah 11; Haftara Last Day of Pesach)

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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2017 by Roy S. Neuberger

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