Given: February 14, 2022
Tonight’s shiur is really a very important one, offering many new ideas that people have never heard of. The theme of tonight’s lecture is “where is G-d” and I will dramatize that concept by nach “Shoftim.” In perek shesh---portion 6, pasuk 13---verse 13, is the story of one of greatest miracles ever known.
G-D said, according to the nach---nevi’im portion in ketuvim, writings from the prophets that the Jews had sinned, did what was not right in the “eyes” of G-D. The Ribono Shel Olam, therefore, allowed the Midianites to afflict the Jews for seven years. After those seven years, the Ribono Shel Olam decided that their tribulation was enough and a savior would be sent. G-D chose the person named Gidon, one of the judges of Israel at the time of the judges, to be that savior. G-D sent a malach---angel to speak to Gidon---imagine being talked to by an angel!---who appeared to him saying, “G-D is with you,” meaning that He is supporting him.
Gidon, in his response, voiced an idea that has probably been voiced hundreds of millions of times throughout history of the Jewish people. The message was that G-D intends for him, Gidon, to save the Jews from the Midianites. The story, beautiful in its entirety, is punctuated by Gidon’s response which was (as translated), “I beg you, my Lord,”---and this to an angel---“if Ha’Shem is with us, why has all this happened?” Gidon continues to express his consternation as to why, If He is with us, the Jews are being afflicted these seven years both by the Midianites and the Amalekites. These enemies steal the crops, kill, destroy….how can this happen when, according to you, Ha’Shem is with us? Gidon continues, asking the angel: where are the wonders of which our forefathers told us? It says,“Behold, Ha’Shem brought us out of Egypt” so where is He? G-D interceded to the stop the persecutions, but that’s not happening anymore.
Then, Gidon says something startling. He says, G-D has deserted us, abandoned u,s having delivered us into the grip of Midian. Gidon expressed what everybody feels, that G-D is no longer with us, the Jewish people. He was challenging the angel. G-D, through His angelic emissary, tells Gidon to go in strength and save Israel from the grip of Midian, that it is G-D Who is sending him.
We should note that the army of the Midianites and Amalekites was formidable, approximately 135,000 warriors staged just east of Israel. Based on the angel’s instruction, Gidon gathers an army of about 32,000 warriors. It’s possible that this army Gidon amassed may win but it’s highly unlikely. So, G-D performs a miracle, something hardly ever seen, somehow reducing Gidon’s army to just 300 warriors. That’s it! These 300 destroy the armies of Midian and Amalek, the 135,000. Such a victory was truly unheard of.
What I’m trying to bring to the fore with this is what many people have thought: Where is G-D? This is the question I intend to answer. The answer, in many ways, is astounding. That is what I want to reveal tonight.
On That Day
G-D tells us, at the end of the book of “Devarim,” that “on that day,” meaning the End of Days, “I will surely hide My face.” Rashi tells us that it will appear as though G-D has abandoned the Jews but it is not so. It is as though G-D is looking from behind the cracks in a fence. Why would G-D make it appear as though the Jews have been abandoned? Why does He hide at the End of Days? Is it revenge? G-D doesn’t take revenge. Is it retribution?---no. Why does He create a scenario at the End of Time in which He’s “gone” or it appears so? What does it serve? One would think that, on the contrary, now is the time that He should appear to be present so Jews can strengthen themselves, remain religious.
Besides these arguments, there is a pasuk---verse in the Torah that says, “Torah will not be forgotten from the seed.” This is a promise that, no matter what happens to the Jews, no matter that the galut’s effect has been that Jews have “thrown off the yoke” of observance of mitzvos—commandments, this revelation guarantees that the Torah will never be forgotten from among the Jewish people. G-D seems to be saying that, no matter how much the Jews wander from the Torah, it will not be forgotten. In order for that to be fulfilled, all it takes is one Jew to remember Torah. Even if everybody else forgets, the prophecy is fulfilled, that Torah will not be forgotten “from the seed.”
It's pretty incredible to realize that this is a nevuah---prophecy. In the End of Time, the environment will be such that the Torah will never be forgotten because, even though almost everybody has forgotten Torah, G-D guarantees that it will not be completely forgotten. G-D has created a situation whereby the Torah is almost completely forgotten, but not totally. Here, again, we see the concept, the theme of concealment of the Divine Presence. Why would G-D do this? Why must it be that, as we approach the messianic era at the End of Time, it must appear as though the Torah is almost forgotten. That it His requirement.
You look around today; the statistics are frightening. One statistic shows that among non-orthodox Jews---I think, in the Unites States---the incidence of intermarriage is 7 out of 10, in other words, seventy percent. Even in Eretz Yisrael, there are large numbers of Jews---despite being traditional---who do not observe Torah in any shape or form. I read another statistic, I think it’s a Pew result, that polled those who used to be orthodox but are not longer orthodox. One third of orthodox Jews are no longer so. Add to this, the Reformed, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements, right? When you add this to the situation of world-wide Jewry, you see that most are gone, in terms of adherence to observance. Within Israel, the Eirev Rav, the Jews in power, those who exert influence, are trying to destroy Judaism. It has been said that current efforts are the most egregious ever seen in the history of the modern state. All the hallmark issues: kashrut, marriage, divorce, conversion---there’s a whole battle going on about conversion--- are being affected. Even Shabbat is threatened with suspension of laws to preserve it in many cities. There’s the draft.
Then, there’s anti-Semitism world-wide, particularly in American academia. What’s happening on college campuses is incredible! There is a general feeling of anti-religiosity overall, and, in particular, within the Democratic Party. You see an enormous amount of crime that’s proliferated—defund the police, etc---so, when you think about it, you say to yourself: where’s G-d? Whatever happened to the Ribono Shel Olam?
There’s a statement that says, “Less din”---judgment, less dayan”—judge, meaning that it appears as though there’s no judge and no judgement, so there’s no justice. It seems as though G-D has picked Himself up and completely abandoned the earth, abandoned the Jewish people. Why is this necessary before the mashiach comes? Why this unbelievable Darkness?
There must be this Darkness before mashiach because that is the only way he can ever come. I will give you an entirely different understanding about what the Darkness does.
There are certain ideas that you must understand, many about which I’ve spoken of previously and will return to them to show their relevance in answering the question “Where is G-D now?”
The first concept to understand is the basic principle that the entire operation of the universe, of all Creation, is based on what we term as “din”---justice. What G-D decided---and we cannot appreciate how absolute this is---is that justice is what rules the world. In order to get Olam ha’Ba---Future World you need to have earned it, to deserve it, to cause it, be responsible for it. This determines the Olam ha’Ba you will get. This is the ultimate law of the universe.
There’s a chaZal in the Gemara that says that anybody who thinks that G-D is inclined to overlook our bad deeds, not exact true justice---meaning that He is of the inclination to say to Himself: well, ya know, ok, so you don’t deserve it, but I’ll give Olam ha’Ba anyway--- is someone “whose years will be overlooked.” Anyone ascribing such laziness to G-D will have his ignorance turned back upon him as if G-D were to pronounce: Okay, you really deserve to live a hundred years but you’re only going to live for fifty because---what’s the difference anyway? Nothing is exact. Such reasoning is wrong!
We now understand that the world is judged in an absolute way with the concept of din resulting in cause-and-effect outcomes. Everything that happens to you, to the Jewish people, is because you/they caused it at some level. Nothing happens by chance. We don’t understand how many different ways justice is done but it’s astounding how accurate its dispensation is. This dynamic is the supreme law of the universe. It’s as absolute as gravity. Like gravity, it’s never suspended. G-D does not give up on justice.
The next concept is called “rachamim” which is mercy or compassion. G-D suspends justice, but not permanently. There are times when, for some betterment, G-D suspends the demands of justice in order for the survival of the human race but doesn’t suspend it totally. In the end, justice must prevail. We don’t understand how that works because it has almost an infinite number of possibilities, but rachamim is a suspension on a temporary basis. I’ve spoken about this in the context of Nehama d’Kisufa---Bread of Shame, which you can find on my website. In short, it means that you can’t get something for nothing. You have to earn what you get or else you are subject to feelings of unworthiness, of shame. This principle too is part of din.
We know that when the Jews are in a situation that they don’t deserve Olam ha’Ba, there’s what we call “Hanhagas ha’Yichud”---a modality of G-D’s expressed authority to bring about the ultimate purpose of Creation ensuring that the Jews will be in the Future World. What if they won’t deserve it? It is the Hanhagas ha’Yichud, as a series of actions, designed to guarantee that the Jewish people, both as a people and as individuals, that will assure them a place in the Future World. The way it works is mysterious, perhaps the greatest mystery of all, how G-D can guarantee such a thing. It would seem that G-D must overlook justice in order to give a person the Future World if he is undeserving but, somehow, G-D operates that way. It seems that Hanhagas ha’Yichud counteracts justice but that it only seems so. Even this action by G-D must conform to justice.
At the End of Time, when the world will be at the level of mem-tet-sha’arei tumah---49th Gate of Defilement, which is where mankind is now and which I’ve described often, there has to be a way to survive such a climate. G-D has to activate this hanhaga, this modality of action to guarantee Jewish survival both now and in the Future World.
It seems to contradict the hanhaga---modality of din---judgment. It seems to be a “freebie,” but it’s not. Even to activate such a series of actions requires “legality,” cause-and-effect. Even if the Jews sin enough to introduce the level of defilement, an environment of corruption and depravity to as to be at the 49th Gate, they have to deserve Redemption which translates to rehabilitation. Justice says: well, if you did the right thing---fine. You survive. If you did the wrong thing, it’s over. You’re dead. Nowhere does it say that G-D must rehabilitate you or guarantee you Olam ha’Ba.
What Hanhagas ha’Yichud does is interesting. Really, it rehabilitates the Jews but in a way which we do not understand, in a way to ensure that Jews will survive. In other words, G-D becomes the healer, not merely the judge. It may look as though justice is being opposed but really it isn’t. That’s the idea which we will now explore, that even the rehabilitation of the Jewish people, despite their occupying the 49th Gate which demands justice, will be afforded.
Akeidas Yitzchak---Binding of Isaac
We see this principle borne out in the akeida---binding of Yitzchak. It’s a mysterious event when G-D commanded Avraham Avinu to bring Yitzchak to the altar and kill him. He’s to bring his son as a burnt offering.
We have several questions regarding this event. First: what exactly is the test of Avraham Avinu? Wherein was the essential difficulty in doing this? Second: why was this given to Avraham Avinu? Third: why was this the last test of many? The answers to these will show what an incredible test it was. Remember, it’s not a test of what you would do. It’s a test of what Avraham Avinu did based on his understanding of G-D’s command. Here is what Avraham had to reckon with.
First, how could G-D command a human to kill another human that’s undeserving. Yitzchak hadn’t done anything to deserve death. This command was given simply to test Avraham? This test demanded that Yitzchak must die? That doesn’t make any sense.
The second idea is that such a demand by G-D is against the mida---personality trait of chesed---compassion. It’s even against the mida of G-d as a bal chesed---dispenser of kindness, compassion. As with a person, the command to kill is the opposite of chesed.
The third idea posits the idea: if Avraham was the epitome of chesed, such a demand is completely contrary to his nature. Avraham was being required to fight his own nature.
The fourth idea is the notion of killing of one’s own child. Yitzchak was his son!
The fifth idea involves Yitzchak as a Jew. He’s not just a citizen of the world; he’s a Jew and the last Jew. If Yitzchak dies, that’s the end of the Jews. Avraham is too old to have another child. This, I believe, was the worst, the most impenetrable, because the Ribono Shel Olam said that, with Yitzchak, will the “seed be named.” The continuity of the Jewish people depends on him. So how could G-D command his death? We’re seeing something that appears an impossibility. G-D seems to be deliberately appearing to Avraham as completely irrational, illogical. It’s all a contradiction in and of itself. Yitzchak cannot continue the line of the Jews and be dead at the same time!
This is what Avraham Avinu faced, the irrational impossibility of G-D’s command. He had to do it or, maybe, not do it. That was his test. G-D never actually said to kill Yitzchak, only to bring him up to the altar, but Avraham didn’t know that. As far as he was concerned, he had been commanded to slaughter him as a sacrificial offering. This was G-D appearing irrational. Since Avraham was an incredibly brilliant thinker, this aspect would have been the most disturbing.
This is what the akeida really is, G-D appearing to be irrational. How can you issue a command via prophecy to kill Yitzchak and yet say, “The nation will descend through Yitzchak.” This is what Avraham had to contend with.
Avraham’s reaction was likely: I have no idea what’s going on. I don’t even begin to understand the ultimate meaning of this, how it’s possible, logically. All I know is one thing, that, as far as G-D is concerned, He exists and I will obey Him even if, to me, it makes no sense and the logic is irreconcilable.
Why did G-D do this? Why did G-D appear to be an irrational deity? That’s the question. The answer is a tremendous concept and it’s brought down in a commentary by Rashi based on the Gemara based on the pesukim---verses on the akeida---binding of Yitzchak. This Rashi is the secret to why this commandment was given and it’s also the answer as to why, before the mashiach comes, G-D must appear to be irrational. G-D must appear to have abandoned the Jewish people, which is irrational because we know that G-D intends for the Jews to survive and yet He seems nowhere to be found. He seems to be aiding and abetting evil, as I pointed out. There’s so much evil in the world now that He seems to be supporting. How can we understand this?
We will now understand something very important. Rashi teaches the following: A malach---angel tells Avraham Avinu to stop, not to kill Yitzchak, not to touch him. G-D says, “Now I know that you fear G-D.” That’s hard to understand. “Now I know” means that before G-D didn’t know that Avraham feared Him before? Why only now?
Answering to Justice
The idea, according to Rashi, is not what we think it means. Rashi says that this statement by G-D, that Avraham is G-D-fearing, is G-D’s answer to the Satan, to justice, and to the nations of the world, all of whom wonder why G-D loves Avraham, loves the Jewish people. Why is G-D so infatuated, so enamored, of the Jews even though, in the End, the nations could rightfully ask: the Jews themselves, in many ways, have deserted You. What is this incredible love you have for them?
This Rashi is bringing down a Gemara and it’s also a “Yalkut Shimoni.” It’s the revelation of the secret as to why G-D has to appear irrational at the End of Time. The Satan argues: Wait a minute! Why doyou love them so much? No matter what they do, you’re going to guarantee their existence in the Future World. Even though they don’t deserve it based on justice, through judgment, are undeserving of Olam ha’Ba, You have instituted an hanhaga---a modality of action that guarantees it. You refuse to be without them.
On behalf of the world, what the Satan says is correct. G-D created the world through justice, the cardinal supreme principle of existence---you deserve to live, or you don’t, and so you don’t---but yet, as the Satan accuses: You are displaying a behavior which is a guarantee of survival despite their lack of worthiness. This can only be because you love them. It doesn’t follow the dictates of justice.
The job of the Satan is to defend justice so G-D can’t easily dismiss his argument. G-D can’t say, “Get lost!” G-D created this malach---angel in order to defend justice. This is what the Satan does; he “sues” G-D in court, so to speak, arguing: You can’t do this. You can’t institute Hanhagas ha’Yichud because it’s not just. You created the universe through laws, principles, of justice so how can you do this?
Now we begin to understand something profound. G-D can say: because Avraham brought Yitzchak to be slaughtered, he demonstrated his fear of Me. G-D means that, with that act of Avraham, He now has a claim, evidence, as to why the Jews deserve those guarantees and the instituted actions that bring them. Now in court, G-D reasons: I defend those actions so they don’t veer from justice. On the contrary, I can only argue this through justice. They refuse to abandon me. Avraham sees I come across as irrational, cannot understand the commandment I just gave him, yet he obeys.
One would expect that Avraham would have abandoned G-D: I’m not going to worship a deity whose actions and commands make no sense! It’s impossible for this to be a prophecy so there’s something wrong with G-D’s command, or something wrong with this G-D. Maybe I’m worshipping the wrong deity!
Many people would say something like this, but Avraham doesn’t. He refuses to abandon
G-D. Instead, he gives G-D the defense: Avraham did not abandon me so how can I abandon him? Therefore, it is justice that says: you can’t abandon him; that would be unjust. It’s mida-kneged-mida---measure for measure. Avraham’s obedience, compliance, allows G-D to plead a winning argument in court. G-D can now rightfully save the Jewish people.
What we learn is that G-D “needs” a justification to save the Jews. He needs the justification by virtue of the fact that justice is integral to the universe He created. The akeida bears this out, provides it. Justice says: Avraham did not abandon You so You cannot abandon him. You cannot abandon the Jews no matter what they do. No matter what level of tuma---defilement they arrive at, justice demands they are to be saved.
The akeida is the last test Avraham endures because this is exactly what will happen at the End of Time. The Jews will have created a climate of corruption and depravity at the 49th level. Twelve million Jews are gone through intermarriage, through disinterest, or opposition to religiosity, and efforts to destroy Judaism. In this seemingly hopeless context, G-D creates an irrational climate and says to the Satan: I will show you that they will not abandon Me though I appear irrational, appear to support and sustain evil, appear to have abandoned them. Some abandon Me, but it need not be all Jews who stay loyal. Those who do will be loyal are sufficient cause for justice to agree to G-D’s activation of those hanhagas that guarantee their survival and existence in the Future World.
The irrationality always comes before the end. Let’s take a look. Moshe Rabbeinu is sent to Egypt to redeem the Jews because they are at that 49th Gate, so G-D presses the “restart button” to bring the mashiach, who was Moshe. The Satan, as can be expected, is screaming: they don’t deserve this. You know You needn’t save them.
G-D retorts: I can save them and I will. Why---because they have not abandoned me. What is the irrationality in their climate at that time? How was it possible, after Moshe came to redeem them, that the climate worsened? Pharoah decrees they must now gather the straw that had been provided for brick-making. How could G-D send a messiah and their oppression becomes worse? The people could resentfully wonder: This is redemption? This is a charade!
Why did G-D do that? He needs to appear irrational and contrary to their interests so when the Jews don’t abandon Him, when they say: we don’t care if none of this makes sense. We still believe G-D is going to redeem us, G-D can justifiably argue: I have the legal grounds to activate the actions of Hanhagas ha’Yichud. G-D will have gotten judicial support, the legal argument to win. This is why Pharoah made the g’zera---decree to force the gathering of the straw.
This happens again at the splitting of the Yam Suf. The Jews are just barely out of Egypt when, suddenly, hundreds of the best charioteers of Egypt are in pursuit. The Jews could have thought: what’s going on? This is irrational! G-D takes us out, saves us by the makos---plagues, blows, and now He’s going to allow us to be slaughtered by the Egyptians? This makes no sense. This is contrary to what G-D did in rescuing us!
Moshe tells them not to worry. Even though G-D appears irrational, it is because He is saving us. He tells them to have bitachon---faith and trust. He tells them not to abandon G-D so He can use the argument against the Satan’s defense of justice as he screams at the top of his angelic lungs: how can you save them? There’s no justice here!
Nachshon ben Aminadov jumps into the Reed Sea, in a gesture of adherence to what Moshe advised. The act of this one faithful Jew, demonstrating his faith in G-D, representing the entire Jewish people, inspired the trait of adherence and loyalty.
What’s interesting is to think about this in the context of the Holocaust. It was irrational. How could G-D allow six million Jews to die? Beyond their deaths is the outrageous reason for their deaths, simply because they were Jews. The way they died was also irrational. The Germans used every bit of the Jewish body---the skin for lampshades, the fat for soap, the bones for fertilizer. The Jew was a cockroach or a cow whose body was utilized efficiently. You want to kill a guy? Kill him. But what’s this nonsense? What G-D did is not only allow the Germans to kill Jews but to kill them in a manner so barbaric as to be irrational. One could think: You profess to love Jews yet You allow their destruction in a manner that even animals don’t perpetrate. Animals kill and eat their prey. They don’t torture them! The Holocaust was the beginning of the appearance of G-D as an irrational being in modern times in order to, once again, facilitate that argument that the Jews didn’t abandon Him. He wants the Jews to love Him, stay with Him, trust Him even though they are being slaughtered and the entire thing is irrational and absolutely prompts incredulity.
Justice, and its defender the Satan, the entire beit din---court, is conforming to justice He created. He requires the justification to activate Hanhagas ha’Yichud. We now understand that when G-D says, “At the End of Days, I will conceal My face,” it means He will not only conceal His face but will appear irrational, unlovable, unworthy of the Jews’ trust. There’s the double use of the word “hastir”---conceal because He will not only conceal His face but make it appear that He aids and abets those who seek the Jews’ destruction. That is why there’s a double expression of “concealment.”
We could think His actions are due to retribution for our sins, but---no. It is the premise G-D uses to argue His case with the Satan, to satisfy justice and activate Hanhagas ha’Yichud.
We might say to G-D: It’s bad enough you don’t help Hareidim---religious Jews but it looks as though You are actually in the camp of the evil-doers whether they be goyim or Jews. Yes, that is the evidence G-D presents to the court to demonstrate: You stuck to me, regardless. Therefore, you deserve to live.
The Rizhiner Rebbe made two statements that refer to these ideas although he doesn’t say it directly. He says that, at the End of Time, the measure of difficulty the Jews will have before mashiach comes will be as great as that of the akeida---the binding of Yitzchak. This means that the reward a Jew will get for sticking with G-D will be as great as what Avraham Avinu got. This is the test. It will duplicate that event. Such loyalty is the only argument G-D can use to initialize those mysterious actions to save them and we can’t imagine what such loyalty is worth in today’s era.
I would say, although I don’t claim to know for sure, but it’s almost worth being born at the End of Time to be eligible for the reward of the akeida. We are faced with events, circumstances such as Reformed and Reconstructionist Judaism, assimilation and intermarriage in big numbers, and G-D doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it. On the contrary, G-D gives these people success, power, influence over Judaism itself. Judaism is disappearing. It’s nice to sit in Lakewood or Flatbush or other Jewish enclaves but we don’t realize that Jews are disappearing. The problem used to be confined to anti-Semites killing Jews, pogroms, inquisitions, crusades and expulsions. So, okay, Jews die. They’ve always been dying, always martyrs. Today, however, is different. Jews aren’t being killed; they’re disappearing. The Jewish character of Israel is being attacked. What would Israel be without a Jewish character? Add to this the anti-Semitism of the progressives, the liberals, the democrats, the incredible depravity of the LGBTQ movement with their gender-vocabulary tyranny, the rampant homosexuality and society’s embrace of it….we ask: where is G-D?
He’s busy appearing irrational to get that judicial justification for Jewish survival in the Future World, their being with Him as He will be with them.
Remember, justice doesn’t demand that G-D rehabilitate or save them unless G-D can prove their loyalty. Your loyalty, your devotion to G-D in today’s age is one of the greatest mitzvahs that you can ever do. You will be rewarded for being one of those responsible for Jewish survival, for His victory in the court of justice that He created. You loved G-D, completely. This is what is meant by that portion of the Shema prayer, that says, “You will love Him with all your heart, all your soul, with all you possess, with all that you are.” That’s the take-away. Don’t “give up the ship,” as the saying goes. The more it appears as though evil is victorious, the more you must recognize that these circumstances are necessary. One day, it will be over and your reward will be….imagine!
Q & A
Participant: How long does it take for Ha’Shem to have enough of a case? We’ve been in Darkness for a while now and, as you said, not all the Jews need to pull through, only some, for G-D to win His case.
R’Kessin: That’s a very good question. The answer is: unknown. We don’t know the measuring stick, don’t know the deficiencies that the Jews have created to require what amount of loyalty. Only G-D knows exactly how much devotion is needed to provide the legal justification. The main idea is that we need it. He needs it. In a certain sense, we give Him the power to save us, which is amazing when you think about it. Of course, G-D doesn’t really need our power. The critical thing is that He created everything and justice is integral to that. That’s His decision. Once He made that decision, to integrate the principle of Nehama d’Kisufa---Bread of Shame, we have to earn our Future World. We have to “give Him the power” in a sense.
What I would suggest is to take on a mitzvah….even if a person commits aveiros--- sins doesn’t mean to give up the ship. Do the mitzvah to allow G-D to use it in His argument. It doesn’t mean you have to be a tzaddik gamur---complete righteous. All you need is one mitzvah, technically or theoretically, to show devotion.
Participant: I would have thought that devotion would be expressed by fighting the Satan within us, the evil inclination within so that when bad times come our way, fighting it off and putting bitachon as a #1 focus….total trust in Ha’Shem, not falling into the Satan’s trap of negative thoughts….this would be enough for Ha’Shem to show the Satan: you subjected them to this in their personal lives and they’re still holding on to Me.
R'Kessin: Exactly. That is the way to do it. Even though we have no idea what G-D is doing, as I said, and He seems to be siding with, aiding and abetting evil, giving evil success and power, the fact that you do mitzvahs in this situation is equal to what Avraham did. Maybe it’s luck to live in this generation even though it’s difficult to remain religious. The reward for somebody who can remain religious is infinite.
Participant: You wanted to mention Purim Katan---“mini” Purim, how it is just as much a special day, a holy day, since it’s tonight and tomorrow. What’s the holiness about it?
R’Kessin: Time is very important in Judaism. I will speak about it in a month during Purim. Time is important because, whatever spiritual achievement the Jews do, reasserts itself, reintroduces itself, on that particular date. That day enables us to take advantage of the spiritual power that is available on that day. We do that by doing the mitzvos---commandments affiliated with Purim. In the case of Purim, even though it’s not Purim, halachically, according to Jewish law, it is Purim date-wise. As such, there is a shefa, a resurgence of spiritual energy, a force, that does come down on this day to take advantage of.
Halachically, there’s nothing really to do except not say “Tachanun” but, in terms of spiritual energy present on the day, if you can replicate what happened on Purim, basically, when the Jews re-accepted the love of Torah sh’b’al peh---Oral law, vowed to keep it at this time out of love, not fear---which I will talk about on Purim---so I like to say that even if, halachically, there’s no mitzvos to do on Purim Katan, there is that spiritual energy by virtue of the date. When do Divine energies come down? It's based on the calendar. The main energy will be on Purim itself which is during the second Adar.
Participant: It’s like a portal, right?
R’Kessin: Yeah, you could look at it that way, yes. It’s a smaller portal but a portal nonetheless.
Participant: So, these portals are in the sefiros---Divine forces and, on specific days, they’re allowed to open up and allow the sefitos to come down?
R’Kessin: Yes, right.
Participant: They don’t have to be aligned or anything because Mashiach ben Yosef is not here and the pekida didn’t happen so it doesn’t matter because, at one point in time, it was aligned.
R’Kessin: It was aligned in those days, sure. That’s what allowed the energies to come in because of the actions of the Jews to re-accept the Torah. When the time recycles, the energies reawaken and come down. That’s the power of the dating system in Judaism.
Participant: I want to go back to something you said last week, how Mashiach ben Yosef is two people, like Moshe who received the information and Aharon who’s the mouthpiece.
R’Kessin: Aharon is the transmitter. Moshe, as a Yosef, is unique. He’s the source of the ohr rishon---First Light, Messianic Light. So, you have the source, Moshe, and the transmitter, the bridge that conveys the ohr, Aharon. They were equals in holiness, but not in prophecy. Moshe had to be the greater prophet because he had to receive the Torah through illumination of prophecy, the greatest illumination of clarity ever known. But, in terms of kedusha---holiness, righteousness, they were equal. Rashi says this. Moshe was the candidate to be mashiach but Aharon and Moshe shared the function of getting the Torah to the Jewish people. Aharon was not a bystander or just happened to be his brother. They were both part of the delivery system.
Participant: It is said that, in every generation, there is a mashiach who is alive and it is just a matter of the merit of the generation whether or not he comes. That means that there are two potential meshichim---messiahs alive in every generation or is it there is just one who receives from Ha’Shem?
R’Kessin: No, it means there would have to be two because it’s going to be a duplication of Moshe and Aharon. You need the source and the transmitter.
Participant: We said that Rabbi Akiva was a Mashiach ben Yosef in his time and RaMCHaL in his time so who, in Rabbi Akiva’s time, was the Aharon?
R’Kessin: We don’t know. If you take a look, there are certain pesukim that allude to this. For example, in “Hallel,” how many people are they talking about?---two. It says “The dough will rise from the dust and from the garbage will be raised the impoverished”….some may say that one is Mashiach ben Yosef and the other is ben David. Fine. We can wonder if those pesukim---verses also refer to the two ben Yosefs.
In “Oz Yashir” it says that the saviors will arise in the mountain of Zion to judge the mountain of Esav. The word used is “moshi’im” which is plural for “mashiach.” The one who judges Esav and contends with Edom to destroy them is Mashiach ben Yosef, yet the word used is “moshi’im.” Most people don’t realize that, or not aware of it. It seems, clearly, to be referring two saviors. Who judges the mountain of Esav?---Mashiach ben Yosef because That’s his job. He's the “karnei re’em---horns of the re’em. Mashiach ben David also judges but he does it to the entire world, not just Esav.
Like it says in the pasuk, “And the House of Ya’akov will be a fire and the House of Yosef with be a flame, therefore the House of Esav will be straw, stubble.” Who’s that referring to? It’s Ya’akov and Yosef that destroy Esav so the verse refers to two people, not one. It’s fascinating. I’m just telling you what it says. I’m not making this up.
RaMCHaL refers to three individuals: Mashiach ben Yosef, Mashiach ben David, and Moshe Rabbeinu. These, for him, are the three major figures in the redemption process. No one expected Aharon to be part of the “giver” of the Torah. G-D told Moshe to take them out yet, apparently, there was a component for a second person to be an assist because you have to get the Torah to the people, especially since Moshe stuttered which, obviously, we begin to see was on purpose to allow Aharon to be the other person. It’s one concept served by two individuals.