What’s does exile mean? Expulsion from one’s native land by authoritative decree.
The Gemara says, “There was no more tragic a time than when Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu, ‘I hide My face on that day’ [in response to Klal Yisrael’s wayward behavior].”
Rabbi Moshe Silberstein says, “Human suffering and exile from Eretz Yisrael are certainly travesties, but the tragedy of being distanced from Hashem is unparalleled.”
Why? Because exile denotes distance from G-d as the Source of Creation and distance from man shaping his destiny.Furthermore, the Gemara answers, “From the day that the Beis HaMikdosh was destroyed, there has been no day without its curse.”
Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai says that night represents exile - the banishment of the Jewish nation from its land.” Yet, the Shechinah is with us in exile, suffering along with us. Exile typifies departure from one’s natural place. Any exile which the Jewish nation suffers is only temporary and has no ultimate reality. Exile is not a home. Exile is not redemption, no matter how sweet it is.
Hashem says to Moshe, “…the Tent of Meeting that dwells with them in the midst of their impurities.” The Gemara teaches that even in a time that they are impure, the Divine Presence rests among them. The Maharsha states that even while the Jews are in exile, the Divine Presence remains with them. Although the years of exile do represent distancing, G-d has not forsaken His people.
Where’s the proof?
The Medrash states that even when Yisrael was exiled to Egypt, the Shechinah was with them.
In the documentary of The Wizard of Oz,Dorothy states, “Toto,I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Conversely, how does our Creator remind us, that America is not Yerushalayim?
Rashi says, “In exile Jews will not be sure of safety from violence. As to their livelihood, they will depend on what they can buy day by day…”
What’s so terrible about being in exile?
There is no greater cause of bittul Torah, cessation of Torah study, than the fact that the Jews were exiled from their Land. When the Jews were exiled to Babylonia, not one of them was able to explain his [Torah] learning [properly]. This was the loss of the true splendor of Tzion: the Torah. Being exiled to Babylonia is no different than being exiled to America. There is one catch. Approximately, 200 years ago, Rav Chaim Volozhin told Reb Dovid the following:
“…You should know, my son, that the day will come when the pillars of European Jewry will topple, when the yeshivos will be destroyed and uprooted. However, they will be reborn in the exile of America, the final stop of the Jewish people before the arrival of Moshiach. The American exile will be the tenth and final exile of Torah, following those of Babylon, North Africa, Egypt, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Poland and Lithuania.”
Once the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, genuine Torah knowledge became inaccessible. The two go hand in hand. Without the Beis HaMikdash, there cannot be true Torah knowledge. Without the Beis HaMikdash Hashem’s Influence is more distant and it is impossible to connect as deeply with Him through Torah as before. This is the reason that in the Yehi Ratzon prayer at the end of Shemonah Esrei we pray for both the Beis HaMikdash to be rebuilt and for our portion in Torah. The Beis HaMikdash brings Hashem’s Influence into this world, while the proper study of Torah infuses the scholar with Hashem’s Influence.
How many people does it take to bring the Final Redemption?
After the Jews left Egypt, the Egyptians pursued them until they came upon the Red Sea, at which point they were unable to continue. G-d told Moshe: “Speak to the Children of Israel and let them journey forth! They need do nothing but go forward and the sea will not stand in their way. This was sufficient for those whose trust in G-d ran deep. Consequently, the tribes vied with each other as to who would be the first to go into the water and thereby increase the honor of Heaven.
Yet, Nachshon ben Aminadav, the prince of the tribe of Yehudah, leaped forward and descended into the sea first…
Why? He still ruled with G-d, i.e. he had faith in the Holy One, Blessed is He…”
In the end, the sea split because one person – one lone individual – took action, thereby sanctifying G-d’s Name!
There’s a poster which has a picture of Uncle Sam pointing his finger at you, saying, “I want YOU for U.S. army.” Similarly, our Creator says to each and every one of us, “I want YOU to have a part in hastening the redemption.” As Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz said, “Every person may change the course of history; it is in the power of every individual to shorten the exile.”
If you think Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz is exaggerating, here are the words of the Rambam:
“A person should view his life all year long as if his merits [for his mitzvos] and his guilt [for his sins] are exactly balanced, and that a single mitzvah could tilt the scales in his favor. Likewise, he should view the entire world as if it is exactly balanced in this way and that his mitzvah could tilt the entire world toward favorable judgment.”
Dorothy states, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
So too, as long as the service of the Beis HaMikdash took place, there was blessing in the world, there were low prices, there was abundant grain, there was abundant wine, and people ate and were satiated, and animals ate and were satiated… Once the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, blessing was removed from the world… When the Beis HaMikdash existed, that sacred abode was a place that was prepared to receive the flow of prophecy and wisdom, to the point that through that place it would flow to all of Bnei Yisrael.
Dedicated as a merit for a complete recovery of חי' מלכה בת בתשבע, ישעי' שמחה בן דבורה חי', שמואל בן חנה מנוחה and שלמה אברהם משה בן רבקה שיינדל.