07 June 2018

Parshat Shlach – How do YOU know that you are NOT part of the Erev Rav?

Parshat Shlach
by Rabbi Pinchas Winston shlit”a

All the Children of Israel complained against Moshe and Aharon, and the entire congregation said, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this desert.” (Bamidbar 14:2)

YEARS AGO WHEN I gave a talk to a large group in downtown Manhattan, I was challenged by someone from the audience who did not feel my emphasis on making aliyah was justified. He was of the belief that love of Eretz Yisroel, at that time, was completely unnecessary.

It was not hard for me, or others in the audience, to detect that he was really defending his own lack of love for the Land. He liked it in the States, and the thought of having to live anywhere else, especially in the Middle East, did not talk to him at ALL.

A public speaker can often pick up the energy of a crowd. Some issues in particular hit home for a lot of people, and those people tend to emotionally rally behind one side or another. In such cases, when the speaker gives an answer, it is for everyone who shares the question. This makes the weight of the answer that much more important.

Rather than argue with the person, I revealed something to him. I told him, and really the whole crowd at the same time, that according to Kabbalah, the souls of the Jews who rejected Eretz Yisroel back in the time of Moshe Rabbeinu are supposed to reincarnate in the “Final Generation.” I explained to him that souls only reincarnate to rectify mistakes they did not fix in previous lifetimes, so they had to be coming back in the last generation to fix something.

Now, I told him, we could suggest that they are coming back to fix the sin of the golden calf, but those perpetrators were killed at the time, and we have been paying for that sin in every generation. So, it does not seem likely that the sin of the golden calf is enough to warrant a curtain call of the souls of those who left Egypt.

The sin that still seems to be in need of “tikun” after all these millennia, I told him, was the sin of the Spies. Aside from being the sin that “broke the camel’s back,” resulting in 39 extra years of desert wandering, the rejection of Eretz Yisroel was seen as a rejection of God Himself. The sin of the calf may have put us on the wrong track, but it was the sin of the Spies that shut the door on the Final Redemption at that time.

The tikun therefore, would be the opposite. Rather than reject the Land, we’re supposed to love it. This is what Dovid HaMelech said:

You will arise and show Tzion mercy, for the time to favor her, for the appointed time will have come. For Your servants have cherished her stones and favored her dust. (Tehillim 102:14-15)

“So,” I asked him, “how do you know that your disdain for Eretz Yisroel does not stem from your soul, which has reincarnated from the time of the Jewish people who left Egypt with Moshe Rabbeinu? How do you know that this is not your second chance, your opportunity to set right now what you did not get right back then, and you’re not doing it? The Jews of that time also thought they had God’s approval for wanting to stay in the desert, which, by the way, was another name for America at the turn of the last century. They were even shocked by God’s reaction and immediately did a “180” after seeing it.”

Nobody that night had an answer to those questions. First of all, the idea caught them totally by surprise, and the fascination factor overcame the rejection factor. Secondly, there WAS no way to answer the questions. If true, how could ANYONE know who they really were in ANY of their past lives, and what the impact it is having on their CURRENT life?

The answer worked so well, not just once, but several times since when the scenario has repeated itself. Now we can apply it again, except to a different topic: the Erev Rav, otherwise known as the “Mixed Multitude.” Considered by many to be a “blast from the past,” they are in fact alive and well in EVERY generation causing a whole list of problems for the Jewish people and the Final Redemption.

How do we know? Because the Zohar says so. The Vilna Gaon also has said so. Many great rabbis before and after him have also weighed in on the topic. It seems like the most obvious thing to anyone who knows Jewish history well, but with a more Kabbalistic approach. They may have seemed like an incidental addition back at the time of the exodus from Egypt, but they have tremendous historical significance in terms of world rectification. So much is riding on their tikun or elimination.

The trouble is, that the Jewish people for the longest time, has been comprised of people on the Right, people on the Left, people in the Middle, and so many others in-between each. There have been traditionalists and anti-traditionalists and varying degrees of both. There are extremists in both directions, and altogether we are called the “Jewish People.”

Not so fast. This might be true of many Jews, but not ALL Jews, because some of them are classified, Kabbalistically, as “Erev Rav.” Doesn’t a person have to actually descend from the Erev Rav to be one? Actually, no. It turns out that it’s a soul thing, and souls reincarnate and can come back in any body God sends them to. Non-Erev Rav parents could give birth to five children, and one or more of them can end up being part of the “Erev Rav.”

It’s a frightening thought. It is NOT a great thing to be part of the Erev Rav, and some say that the worst battle of all for the Jewish people will be the last one, and it will be against the Erev Rav. When it comes to the Erev Rav, the enemy is truly “within.”

How does one know if a “fellow” Jew is in fact part of the Erev Rav? The truth is, even when it seems obvious that someone MUST be part of the Erev Rav, it may not be so. Some of the worst Jewish anti-Semites have done teshuvah at some point, and some Jews who seemed harmless enough ended up being the worst anti-Semites. So, no, it is not really possible to point at another Jew and yell with confidence, “EREV RAV”!

A better question to each and every Jew is: How do YOU know that you are NOT part of the Erev Rav?

Well, if a person is loyal to the traditional Torah approach with little or no reservations, they can be sure that they are NOT Erev Rav. However, it is not over until it is over, and the rabbis have warned that a person should not trust himself until the day of his death. Even GREAT people have been known to change their religious tune later in life and become heretics.

But what can be said about those who OPPOSE traditional Torah values, especially strongly? What about those who side with the enemy and interfere with the safety of Eretz Yisroel? How does one know that their “inherent” drive to be this way does not come from having an Erev Rav soul?

They don’t. But rather than wait for God to answer the question for them, they should instead honestly question that drive, and work on turning it around. Otherwise, they may just vote themselves out of the Jewish people—forever.

Pinchas Winston

1 comment:

Miriam said...

This is so great! I enjoyed his explanation a lot. I think it explains why the yetzer hara is so strong nowadays especially when it concerns leaving a comfortable lifestyle and making aliyah or at least having that the goal and constantly thinking of it and working towards it. The religious sector is equally affected even though it is a mitzvah and that shouldn't be the case. If it is everybody's tikkun in this generation, some of us will be able to rectify it pretty easily and sometimes quite miraculously and others will defend their beliefs until they are blue in the face and refuse to rectify it until Hashem forces them to, even stating religious reasons they believe are valid as various rabbis agree. Especially, these days when it is relatively easy to fly to Israel and start a life here compared to years ago when there were no infrastructures and it was a dangerous journey, this denial of our mission prevails the most. It really is hard to find a valid excuse why not to come or at least speak highly about the Land when we know it is our tikkun but on the other hand, it really explains why the yetzer hara is so strong in this aspect. That's its biggest job.