The Truth of Truths
Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlit”a, Parshas BeHa’aloscha
This is the greatness of G–D. He is the Truth of Truths, there is none higher. Nothing else matters to G–D other than the truth, at all times. G–D and truth are one, in the ultimate sense. Truth is greatness and therefore G–D is, by definition, the greatest of greatness. By definition, He must also be humble.
The Talmud says regarding Moshe and Aharon:
Rava, others say Rebi Yochanan, said: “More significant is that which is said of Moshe and Aharon than that which is said of Avraham. Regarding Avraham it says, 'I am but dust and ashes,’, whereas regarding Moshe and Aharon it says, ‘And we are nothing.’ Rafa, others say Rebi Yochanan, also said: “The world exists only on account of [the merit of] Moshe and Aharon; for it is written here, ‘And we are nothing,’ and it is written there [of the world], ‘He hangs the earth upon nothing’.” (Chulin 89a)It is quite a statement to make. What it is really saying is that the world exists on account of humility. But, if humility is the ability to bow to the truth at all times, how can it be any other way? History, for the most part, has been about arrogant people who would rather impose their version of truth than to humble themselves to the real one. This is why history has also been about death, destruction, and tremendous waste.
If the world exists for the humble, because the humble exist for the truth, then a world that strays far from the truth is one that is vulnerable to Divine decree. Political correctness only flies if it supports the truth, not if it undermines it, as it has done in so many ways.
The Talmud states that one of the signs that Moshiach is not too far away is the amount of falsehood in the world. It’s pervasiveness indicates that Creation is reaching a boiling point, and that is never good.
True, it will result in Moshiach and a more perfect world, but only after crossing a deadly and dangerous threshold called “The War of Gog and Magog.”
Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlit”a, Parshas Shlach
The importance of Parshas Sh'lach is that it holds the key to more than just being able to make aliyah. It holds the key to national redemption. You can do mitzvos in exile. You can’t really “do” Eretz Yisroel, at least not in the full sense of the term, in the Diaspora, and Eretz Yisroel is an indispensable part of redemption.
What does this have to do with the parshah? Granted that the spies erred gravely and prevented the Final Redemption from occurring in their time. Unquestionably, there are lessons still to be learned from what they did wrong. What, however, does their sin have to do with us anymore.
After all, we have our own issues to fix up today, and they are the ones holding back the redemption in our time. Certainly how a Jew feels about Eretz Yisroel today is important, but is it really central? For the Jewish people in the generation of the spies, the next mitzvah was aliyah, and they failed it. For us, it is just staying Torah observant, and we’re not doing so well at that either.
This is not exactly accurate. In fact, it is this inaccuracy that is actually holding back the redemption. It’s at the door. It wants to come in. We just won’t let it.
To begin with, the spies did not only reject Eretz Yisroel, though that was bad enough. What they really rejected was redemption, as in the final one. They were already comfortable with the one they had […] Why upset a status quo you can live with it?
We’re still within a very unique period in Jewish history that has allowed us to enjoy freedoms that our ancestors have not known for millennia, literally thousands of years. Exile, post-Holocaust, has been good to us, and still is, in spite of the troubles we have and the ones brewing on the horizon.
The book, “Kol HaTor,” has been such a source of controversy. Said to be the teachings of the Vilna Gaon to his students on a mission to resettle the Land of Israel, it has been quite controversial in the Torah world. Partly to do with how it came to publication, mostly to do with what it says, many in the Torah world refuse to believe that it is authentic GR”A (the letters of HaGaon, Rebi Eliyahu).
Many years later the authenticity of the work has been verified by different sources. The history of how it came to be published is thoroughly chronicled in a new translation of the work, called “The Voice of the Turtledove,” by the “Mishmeres Sholom.” Undoubtedly, such crucial information will not change the opinion of the many who “need” it to not be the work of Gaon.The reason is human nature, and the story of the spies all over again. Kol HaTor focuses primarily on the concept of Moshiach Ben Yosef, a little known and even less understood component of the Final Redemption. Only the GR”A, in this ground uprooting work, seems to have understood the idea, translating it into a call for national proactivity in bringing about redemption.
All of a sudden statements like, “I’ll make aliyah when Moshiach comes” do not work. Suddenly, our “to each his own” type of lifestyle is pushed aside for one that puts every Jew either at war against the forces blocking redemption, or on their side. In short, if a person is not a redemption-lover, someone who daily fulfills the directive of anticipating redemption, Kol HaTor is a proverbial brutal slap across the national face.
Before Kol HaTor came to public light, one could have argued that there was a big difference between the generation of the spies and subsequent generations. After all, they had been taken out of Egypt specifically to go to Eretz Yisroel. God Himself was leading the nation, and Moshe Rabbeinu was His emissary on earth. Rejecting Eretz Yisroel at THAT time was clearly a big no-no.
Since then, we have wandered from exile to exile. We are no longer led by pillars of fire but threatened by them. We have leaders but none even close to the level of Moshe Rabbeinu. What can we do but sit back and let history run its course, doing the best we can do to preserve Torah tradition in a world that is become increasingly hostile to God-believers. Given the circumstances and what we know about redemption, can God really blame us?
Enter Kol HaTor. Kol HaTor says yes, God can and will blame us, at least since the Jewish year 5500 (1740 CE). According to the Gaon, as of that date national passivity was out and proactivity was in. There are things that we should and must do in anticipation of the Final Redemption, especially if we are going to speed it up and help it come mercifully. In the 1800s, most Jews were just trying to escape persecution and find any opportunity they could to eke out a meager living. Equal opportunity for Jews was still nascent, and this is why even secular Jews as well as religious Jews called for mass emigration from Europe to the Land of Israel.
Redemption? That’s a term that is only comfortable to repeat when referring to stocks or bonds. National Redemption? That’s a phrase that is better left to those who have little or nothing to lose by repeating it, or in the private world of prayer. Proactively pursue redemption? That’s tantamount to committing social suicide for many.
The exile will end, of that we can be certain. How it will end is a question that can only be answered by the nation itself. As mentioned in the past, the spies had a great reason for rejecting Eretz Yisroel, one that they thought God would whole-heartedly accept and agree to. They were shocked just how wrong they were.
What was their big and deadly mistake? They thought that they had only been rejecting a land, albeit one precious to God and His dear ones. They found out that, instead, they had rejected the whole idea of redemption, in effect retroactively nullifying the reason for their miraculous salvation from Egyptian bondage.Are we making the same dangerous, nation-threatening mistake today? According to Kol HaTor, unquestionably, which is why so many continue to believe that it cannot be the authentic work of the Gaon from Vilna. Consequently, after they answer to God for overlooking the means to an expedient and safer Final Redemption, they’ll have to answer to the GR”A as well.
Editorial emphasis is mine.