Given: July 12, 2022
Introduction: 17th of Tamuz
I thought it appropriate to mention a few words about shiva-asar b’Tamuz—17th of Tamuz which is this coming Sunday. It’s really on Shabbos but it’s nidche—postponed because you’re not supposed to fast on Shabbos.
I want to touch on this topic briefly and if someone wants a version with greater depth you can locate it here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/rabbi-mendel-kessin-end-of-the-american-exile/
If you ask a Jewish person which day marks the greatest tragedy in the history of Judaism, almost everyone will tell you tisha b’av—9th of Av and they would have a very valid point. Why? On tisha b’Av, you had the destruction of the first temple, destruction of the second temple, destruction of Betar and, of course, we lost the Divine Presence amongst us. So, there’s no question that the 9th of Av is an incredibly tragic day.
But, believe it or not, the greatest tragic day in the history of the Jewish people, as well as in the history of mankind, is the 17th of Tamuz. Why is that?
On this day, we know that Moshe Rabbeinu—our teacher went up to receive the Torah on Shavuos. We also know that the Jews sinned with the Golden Calf, the result of which is that Moshe Rabbeinu, who was supposed to be Mashiach ben Yosef whose influence is the beginning of the entire messianic process, could not, in any way, become Mashiach ben Yosef even though he was the real candidate. The authenticity of his candidacy is shown in G-D’s directive to Moshe to “lech reid”—go down. This indicates that Moshe was to “step down” from his ability to be mashiach, not just go down the mountain. This directive meant that the nation had corrupted itself, making it unworthy of redemption.
The Jews had completed the tikkun process, the tikkun klali—complete and total rectification of Creation. That’s what they’d done. That’s right! That’s what they’d done in Egypt by a combination of having done mitzvos and having suffered. Through these, they were able to accomplish the task of ultimate rectification of Creation and, therefore, Moshe was the Mashiach ben Yosef—or almost was, I should say. Therefore, they could receive the Torah, the first tablets. Those luchos rishonos—first tablets were not ordinary tablets and not like the second tablets; they were the messianic Light. There are many indications for this, without going into it now. Those first tablets that Moshe Rabbeinu was to have given were the messianic Light, the platform, the power source of the messianic Light, given as a result of the fact that the Jews had done the entire and total tikkun.
But when they did the Golden Calf on the 17th of Tammuz disqualifying Moshe from being the Mashiach ben Yosef, that meant they’d destroyed the entire concept of “tikkun ha’klali.” The total rectification, which is the essential task of mankind in general, failed. Even non-Jews have a share in the total rectification—not directly but indirectly—by assisting the Jews to do it and it being their connection to, their share in, Olam Ha’ba—the Future World. Their share, too, failed.
The failure of the Jewish people to complete the tikkun restored some of what’s called the “zohama”—spiritual defilement, pollution. The Satan’s restoration and the failure of the tikkun to come to fruition is the greatest tragedy in the history of the Jews and the world. If doing the tikkun ha’klali is the purpose of Creation, a purpose they nearly fulfilled putting them on the cusp of receiving the messianic Light, but that purpose failed to be realized, what greater tragedy could there be? So, the 17th of Tamuz is the greatest tragedy that has ever befallen the Jewish people. It means that Moshe Rabbeinu could not redeem the Jewish people and usher in the messianic era—which is absolutely incredible. So, the worst day is not tisha b’Av. That date is clearly tragic; no question about that—the inability of the Jews to have their Beis Ha’mikdash, their Temple—but the greatest tragedy is the inability of Moshe Rabbeinu to be the messiah, to redeem not just the Jews but all mankind. Most people don’t realize that. That is why the 17th of Tamuz inaugurates what’s called the “three weeks,” a period which, ultimately, leads up to tisha b’Av.
Tisha b’Av and July 4, 1776 and the Penitence of Esav
A second idea I’d like to point out is that July 4th 1776, the date of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson, coincides with the 17th of Tamuz. It’s interesting that the date of this essential contract, America’s statement of rebellion against England and one of the greatest documents ever written as an expression of human freedom and, certainly, America’s, aligns with the 17th of Tamuz.
What does this “coincidence” mean? We can think of July 4, 1776 as the beginning of America, but not the America that we know because America, ultimately, is the forerunner of the tov she’b’Esav—good part of Esav which I’ve talked about extensively. I’ve said that Esav, in the End of Time, does teshuva—repents and fulfils the prophecy given to Rivka (Rebecca) which says, “rav ya’avod tzair”—the elder will serve the younger. Esav’s repentance, in the End, begins, really, the messianic process. Esav can only repent at the beginning of that process. In fact, that’s when he repents.
Therefore, July 4th 1776 coincides with the 17th of Tamuz in order to tell you that the end of the tikkun process’s failure coinciding with the sin of the Golden Calf is really the beginning of the Redemption. Isn’t that incredible! It’s almost poetic that the end of the process of tikkun ha’klali—when it failed—is what G-D uses to begin the process of final Redemption. He allows the good part of America, called the “tov she’b’Edom”—the good part of Edom, to begin to assist the Jews to do the tikkun. On the very day that tikkun ha’klali ended—and is the greatest tragedy of all—is the very day that begins the step toward the messianic process.
I thought I would leave you with these two major concepts in terms of what we are about to face. Shiva asar she’b’Tamuz marks the greatest tragedy in the history of mankind—not only of the Jewish people—as an indicator of the failure of the tikkun ha’klali to ensue and the Redemption to begin. This is something really worthy of reflection.
We find that, many times, there’s a tremendous sense of hopelessness, utter despair, before the Redemption. The Darkness is so powerful that it looks hopeless. We can’t begin to understand how we can get out of the Darkness and we know what the Darkness is; it’s the evil and corruption of mankind, its incompetence, the overwhelming dominance of evil in the world, a dominance which appears utterly powerful. This imparts a terrible sense of hopelessness, of utter despair. Why?
First, let me demonstrate what I mean by the idea of “utter despair.” Everybody knows of these historical events but I don’t think we realize the depth of meaning of these events.
Periods of Hopelessness
Let’s consider Egypt. The Jews are in Egypt for hundreds of years as slaves. Remember, Egypt isn’t just a country. Under the Pharoahs: Thutmose (before the time of Moshe), then Tutankhamun—King Tut—then Akhenaten, then Ramses, each leading Egypt to be the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, it was an empire that existed for 3,000 years.
Could you imagine being a slave in Egypt? The Torah testifies to such terrible servitude. It says “v’yimoriru es chayehem”—and it embittered their lives. A slave is not a worker; he’s a slave. This means that he has no ability to exercise any kind of freedom. There’s no let-up; it just never ends. From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, you’re a slave under somebody’ else’s dominance. Imagine the despair that the Jews had being slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years! What did they think?—it’s over with! There’s no way we can overthrow Egypt and leave. It’s the most powerful nation on earth. Their utter enslavement gave rise to utter resignation that they’d ever get out of their situation.
There’s a second idea about what created an insurmountable sense of hopelessness. Imagine Moshe Rabbeinu who is the agent of G-D, the messiah, coming to Pharoah to tell him that G-D says: “Let the Jews go!”
What does Pharoah say? He defies Moshe, defies the messiah! Pharoah says: nope. These guys are lazy. That’s why they’re thinking about freedom. So, from now on, not only do they have to make bricks, they have to gather the straw to make the bricks. But when? If they cannot diminish the number of bricks they make during the day, when are they going to gather the straw?—at night. And remember, there are no flashlights. Imagine, in the middle of the night, every night for months, at, perhaps, 3am, pouring through the fields of Egypt trying to gather straw! Imagine the suffering! This shattered any hope because, finally, Moshe Rabbeinu, the messiah, the mashiach of G-D, comes to Egypt to redeem them, faces Pharoah and says, “Let them go” and Pharoah’s reaction is: I’ll show you who’s boss! I’m gonna make things much worse.
The despair the Jews had was cataclysmic, catastrophic. It meant that Pharoah was greater than the mashiach which, ultimately, means that Pharoah is greater than G-D. If you can defy G-D’s agent then, clearly, you’re more powerful than G-D, right? Could you imagine what the Jews were thinking when they heard this? They’d lost all hope of redemption. Even somebody sent by G-D is powerless against evil?
The third period of hopelessness occurred at the Yam Suf, the Reed Sea. Their backs are against the sea when, suddenly, they see the Egyptian army in pursuit. This was not just any army; it was the greatest and the best with charioteers and soldiers of Egypt. Their objective was to slaughter the Jews. Why? Egypt reasoned that, once the Jews rebelled, they weren’t expected to come back to be slaves so you’ve got to kill them. The imminent slaughter would be a tremendous defiance, again, of G-D.
After the ten plagues, Egypt knew there was a god and that this god was almighty, yet they still had it in their minds to defy god and to defy Moshe Rabbeinu. The Jews are looking at this and must have thought: we don’t believe these guys are back again! The Egyptians appeared to have been able to resurrect themselves to defy G-D, which is incredible. The Jews thought the Egyptians had been finished off.
Why did the Ribono Shel Olam—Master of the Universe put the Jewish people in a way that they will have excruciating hopelessness? That’s the question. It happened at least three times in Egypt.
We now see grievous hopelessness in the world. People are walking around in a daze. Let’s take a look.
America is no longer a rational country. You have an incredible level of immorality in which not only is LGBTQ completely dominant, it’s become a preferred lifestyle. There’s also “gender flexibility,” a phenomenon which declares that you can determine who you are—which is insane. You can deny your biological heritage and simply say, “I’m not a man” or “I’m not a woman; I’m whoever I want to be.” Segments of society have prohibited, or seek to regulate, the use of pronouns; you can’t use “she” for a woman. She’s now referred to as a “birthing individual.” I won’t go through the entire litany of nonsense. Can you imagine what these aberrations mean? You begin to realize this is hopeless because mankind has reached an insane level of thinking.
How did this happen? More important, how do we overturn this nonsense with so much of America against us? Who is behind us? You’ve got all those on the “left,” the “progressives,” the entire Democratic Party supporting this craziness. The Supreme Court, in 2015, made discrimination against homosexual union unconstitutional. It can’t be overturned unless by a majority of state legislatures, which won’t happen. It’s become legalized, so how do you get rid of this?
You don’t. That produces an insurmountable sense of hopelessness. If you think it’s going to stop here, you’re mistaken; it will increase. Eventually—just watch—incest will be legalized. If a person wants to marry his pet, he’ll be able to. You’re going to witness things, the immorality of which, we cannot dream and cannot stop. No one can discriminate against this according to the Constitution.
There was a study done in London which estimates that there are 15.1 million Jews of whom only 2.1 are termed “hareidim,” meaning, “Torah-observant.” This means that 13 million Jews have nothing to do with Torah or, if they do, only superficially. Imagine the tragedy of this! How in the world are you going to bring them back? How is G-D going to bring them back? We’re not talking about 5,000 being gone; we’re talking about almost ninety percent of the Jewish people who are either unaffiliated, assimilated, or intermarried. For somebody concerned about this, what happens? –overwhelming hopelessness. There’s no way these Jews can come back.
Then you take a look at Israel. You have this terrible government called the “Eirev Rav” that does what?—wars against Torah and, therefore, against the hareidim. Can you believe the evil of this government under Lapid and Bennett which is probably the worst government opposing the Torah that ever existed in Israel? How do you get rid of these guys?
Did you know that there are 1.5 million kids in Israel’s public school system? What kind of education do they get in Torah?—almost none. Whatever little they get is dominated by curriculum formulated by the Reform and Conservative movements. The curriculum developed by Hartman Institute is known to be affiliated with Reformism. This is the annihilation of the youth of the Jewish people. These are the future Jews and they have no Jewish education based on Torah and mitzvos. The rest of Israel is, basically, secular. The overwhelming majority of the population is secular even though many of them may be “traditional,”—a superficial adherence to Judaism. How to bring them back? I’m pointing out the Darkness.
Then we take a look at the rest of the world besides America and Israel. China is an incredibly evil country that wants to take over the planet. With their 1.4 billion people…. Then there’s Russia. Iran wants to destroy Israel and they say so, producing an existential threat. Iran will get the bomb; there’s no question about that which means that Israel is going to have to enter into an existential war. How do you stop this evil, especially in light of America trying to help Iran regain its “feet,” its status? This produces a tremendous amount of despair, utter despair and hopelessness—right?
A messianic process involves two things; it has to annihilate evil, and evil must acknowledge that it was wrong and that only “good” is the way of behaving.
We find this by Esav and the angel of Esav. Esav had to acknowledge that Ya’akov (Jacob) was right. That’s what evil does. It must disappear by transforming itself to holiness. Can you tell me how a world that is steeped in materialism and pleasure-seeking will transform itself toward righteousness and holiness?
We have no idea how that can happen. We know what the Torah says in parashas—Torah portion “Nitzavim,” that “even if your outcasts”—which is the exile—"be at the ends of Heaven”—Jews spread all over the planet, the only nation on earth of 15.1 million spread all over the planet—G-D assures, “m’sham yikabetzcha”—from there I will gather you. This indicates that He will enter the klippah, meaning the galus—exile, enter every country where the Jews are, and change the Jewish people. This is what is meant by “gather them” and separate them from the goyim—non-Jews among whom they are found, and take every one, every Jew, no matter where he is, and “take you to Himself.” What does this mean?
It means that He will elevate you in terms of Torah, elevate the Jewish people in terms of Torah, somehow. We have no idea how that will happen. Then the pasuk—verse tells us that He will bring us to Eretz Yisrael—the Land of Israel. How will G-D change the consciousness of every Jew no matter where he is on the planet? How can evil be annihilated and evil transformed to holiness? It’s to be a way that is against teva—nature. It’s impossible to imagine how it can happen.
We realize that there’s an unbelievable amount of Darkness at the End of Time. I’ve mentioned, in previous shiurim, the concept of “Windows” which Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the RaMCHaL, writes about in his “Ma’amar Ha’geula” and the concept is this: At the End of Time, the shefa—Divine flow, Divine influence, holy energy “comes down” through a “Gate.” But with the destruction of the Temple, that Gate closed. The problem is that, if the Gate closes, the world is annihilated. So, what did G-D do? He opened up “Windows,” smaller openings so that, before He shuts the Gate, the Windows open to allow the Divine energy, that shefa, to come through those Windows. The world, therefore, gets kiyum—existence. But the problem is that, as the Jews sin, the Windows—painted black—begin to close. Less and less Divine influence gets through. As we get closer and closer to the messianic era, the Windows are closing. The effect of this closure is that evil dominates. That’s the encroaching Darkness.
Finally, right before the very End when the mashiach comes, right before the Window meets the threshold when there is only a slit, a nanometer, of Light, right before the Windows close and the entire Creation would disappear, G-D opens up the Gate and a torrent of Divine energy comes through and that’s the messianic Light. Then the Windows shut. When that Gate opens, there will be an effulgence, a magnitude of kedusha—holiness flowing into the world that we cannot imagine. Meanwhile, we have Darkness and what’s called “tigbores ha’ra”—proliferation of evil.
Purposes of Darkness: Bitachon, Satisfying Justice, Evil’s Self-Exposure
Compelling Bitachon—Trust in G-D
We can ask: why does G-D do this? This is the result of the sins of the Jews but there are several ideas that are important to know. G-D “needs” the Jews to do something to deserve Redemption. What is that? Remember that G-D is a “shadow” in that He “follows” the actions of man. If you believe in G-D, then G-D will interact with you. If you don’t believe in G-D, believe, rather, in yourself and that you are the ultimate cause of events, he will not interact with you. G-D “needs” the Jewish people to have bitachon—trust, to believe He exists and that He will redeem them and keep His promise. If a Jew has bitachon, is boteach—trusting, faithful, G-D reciprocates as if to say: Since you believe in Me, I’ll demonstrate that I do exist and then I will redeem you. This is a very important concept. Having bitachon means to “hang in there” no matter what. G-D “needs” this mitzvah to be fulfilled, demonstrated by the Jews. G-D reacts to the Jews.
We have to have bitachon because we have nothing left. We can’t do anything so we have to trust G-D. One of the purposes of the Darkness is to force us to make a choice, to realize there is nobody else on whom to rely but G-D. If there were a way out, maybe we wouldn’t have bitachon in G-D but, instead, would think: well, maybe we can get out of this by ourselves. The fact that we’re in utter despair means that we realize we can do nothing to fix this. The Darkness itself is the wherewithal that generates the necessity of having faith and trust in G-D. Performing that mitzvah provides the merit of getting redeemed.
The second idea is that G-D will redeem us because He’s more powerful than evil in the sense that G-D has given evil permission to exist, created evil, has given it permission to oppose Him. If G-D preferred, there would be no such thing as “evil.” So, G-D creates the opponent and gives it power. So all-encompassing is G-D! We have to believe that, not only does G-D exist and is more powerful than evil, but that evil’s existence is sponsored by G-D. His power is totally absolute.
In Egypt, at the Yam Suf—Reed Sea, someone named Nachshon ben Aminadav demonstrated this trust in G-D. The Jews were in despair at the sight of the Egyptian army pursuing them and began to complain to Moshe: what did you do in bringing us here as if there are no graves in Egypt and so on. Nachshon ben Aminadav, as a response to these complaints, entered the sea all the way to his nose. Right before the water level exceeded his nose and would have overcome him causing him to drown, the sea split. His demonstration of complete reliance and trust in G-D was the bitachon that G-D needed as the merit to save them. G-D’s response conformed to their belief which Nachshon ben Aminadav expressed. Nachshon, obviously, wasn’t the only one who demonstrated this; there were probably many. We see that bitachon is a critical mitzvah that the Jews must demonstrate as the ultimate merit to bring Redemption.
The Darkness permeates and proliferates so a person can’t make the mistake of thinking it was his own power that got him out of this mess. For instance, the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces, think it’s their power, their military might. They could say: it’s really us and G-D helps us but, really, it’s us. What a mistake! There is no power other than G-D. The military goes through the motions of trying to help the Jewish people but it’s really G-D Who gives them the power to be matzliach—successful. So, G-D brings the Jews to utter despair, to the point where they can’t make the mistake of thinking: it’s me. It’s so bad and they feel so helpless that they realize it’s not them at all. When there’s a yeshua—salvation from intense Darkness, they realize they’ve contributed almost nothing to their salvation except, maybe, demonstrating bitachon.
Another reason for the Darkness is to satisfy justice. When mashiach comes, there’s awesome benefit; the entire world changes. But, preceding the messianic entrance is an enormous amount of sinning so G-D must satisfy the claims of justice, the claims of the chief prosecutor in heaven, the Satan; it’s why he was created. The Satan’s argument is: how can you bring them a glorious new world when there’s so much sinning?
G-D’s response is: you’re right! I will satisfy justice so, suddenly, two things happen. The first is that there’s a surge in intensity of suffering to “punish” the Jews and the world who will benefit from the messianic entrance. It’s an overwhelming amount of suffering as part of a kapporah—expiation, atonement, intended to bring the Jews up to the level where they deserve mashiach. This is the purpose of the world’s suffering as a component of the Darkness.
The suffering is characterized by the dominance of evil, evil’s confusion. All this engenders suffering. One of the major ways of making people suffer is Covid. It increases anxiety, death, fear of death, and pain. Because G-D wants to bring the mashiach right away, that’s why the pandemic spread with such speed. Ever ask yourself how Covid could have encircled the planet so fast? Without getting into epidemiology, G-D wants to bring the mashiach now and, therefore, the suffering has to encircle the planet to satisfy justice and bring the world to a state where it can deserve the mashiach. They’ll have expiated their sins. Covid is a major factor in the suffering and expiation.
What also happens is that evil dominates. The Satan says: wait a minute! Why aren’t my guys dominating given that there’s so much sinning? Why should good dominate? Evil should dominate—my guys! Why shouldn’t evil rule?
G-D says: okay. As a result, we find that, in America, the control by evil people dominates. These people want to harm others, want to destroy America and, in Israel, evil dominates in the form of the Eirev Rav. It’s all part of satisfying justice.
This is one of the reasons why tzaddikim—righteous individuals say that, when they die, they will bring the mashiach, but they can’t. G-D wants every Jew to be involved in the messianic process, to experience the mashiach. In heaven, the tzaddik asks the mashiach: why don’t you come now?
The mashiach answers: well, if you want, I can come but you should know that twenty-five percent of the Jews won’t “make it” because they haven’t yet expiated their sins. They haven’t yet satisfied justice. They don’t deserve it.
The tzaddik relents with: you’re right; don’t come now. Let G-D finish the entire plan. Don’t come now.
A fourth idea is that G-D wants to demonstrate that allowing mankind to fulfill, completely, their evil deeds will show everybody that such evil will, itself, lead to the destruction of the world. The only way for society to exist is by being righteous and holy. If mankind is left to its designs, it will destroy the world; that’s what evil does. When you take a look at America, at the “left” and the Democratic Party, at Biden—all these crazies—that’s the “classic.” That’s the evil dominating, destroying America. That’s what is dominant and will, ultimately, end America unless G-D steps in, which He will.
Lowering the Bar
There’s something else that happens. In order for the Jews to be worthy, not only does suffering have to take place with the domination of evil, G-D has to “lower the bar” of emunah—faith.
Imagine a city needs engineers and, in order to become an engineer, you have to score a 90. Let’s assume the batch of people that take the test can’t score more than a 75. What’s the city going to do? They say, “Well, forget about 90. If you get a 75, then you become a civil engineer.” They lowered the bar of passing.
In a sense, G-D has to lower the bar at the End of Time, the “bar of belief.” There are many Jews who don’t do mitzvos but G-D lowered the bar to enable them to be part of the Jewish people. How? They’ll say, “I believe in Israel,” or “I’m proud I’m Jewish.” Even though the person says, “You know, I’m not doing the mitzvos,” G-D’s lowering the bar of emunah enables him to qualify simply by believing in, or taking pride in, Judaism. That’s sufficient to be a member of the Jewish people. Of course, it also determines how much Olam Ha’ba—Future World he gets but at least it means that he will be part of the Jewish people.
You know where you see this?—Egypt. It says that the Jews were redeemed from Egypt for several reasons. The first reason, or merit, was that they identified as Jews. They retained their language, Hebrew; they didn’t speak Egyptian. They didn’t change their names nor their manner of dress; they dressed like Jews. That was the minimum. Even though they worshipped idols, these efforts qualified them for redemption. It’s as if G-D said: Since you’re proud of being Jewish, identifying as Jews, I will consider that sufficient to redeem you.
Shmiras Ha’Loshon—Refraining from Evil Speech
Another qualifier that enabled them to be redeemed was that they spoke no loshon ha’ra—evil speech. The chazal—sages say in the midrash—exegetical commentary that the reason why the Jews were redeemed from Egypt was because they refrained from using denigrating speech. I’m not going into it now but the concept is that, if you speak loshon ha’ra, you invoke judicial process against you in the heavenly court. That affects your mazal—fortune, measure-for-measure. You condemn others therefore the Satan, who represents justice, has the ability to condemn you. It’s astounding! Engaging in harmful speech, loshon ha’ra, entitles the Satan to go after you, haul you into court and prosecute you.
The Jews were redeemed prior to being worthy. They were to have been in Egypt 400 years but were redeemed after 210 years. The Satan protested to G-D: the Jews were supposed to be enslaved 400 years so how could You redeem them? To quieten the claim of the Satan, G-D could claim that the Jews refrained from evil speech. There was no judicial case that could be made against them so G-D could take them out.
In fact, while the Jews were trapped at the Yam Suf being pursued by the Egyptian army, Moshe tells them to “be silent.” What does that mean? It means: refrain from loshon ha’ra because the reason you’re getting out of Egypt is because there are no kitrugim—prosecutions pending against you. Don’t complain against me and against G-D!
When you take all these together: identifying as Jews, refraining from loshon ha’ra, satisfying justice by the decree of straw, they were able to get out. G-D satisfies justice and then the Jews deserve the messianic era.
I provided four reasons why it’s tremendously Dark and the way it darkens as the Windows close. Why must it be Dark?—for these reasons I’ve discussed, and there are other reasons which I’m not going into here. We now understand why, right before the End, there is hopelessness and despair. Maybe it doesn’t look bad from the point of view of a guy who’s totally engrossed in the world but, for the person who’s a tzaddik, a righteous and holy person who observes the mitzvos and Torah and who wants to do the Will of G-D, it looks very bad. He could say: this is absolutely incredible; it’s hopeless. When you consider all the impossibilities, what it would take for the world to change….
This is what G-D wants. Let me tell you something; it will change. Just like the hopelessness in Egypt, the despair and resignation thinking it will never change, it will change.
Imagine Moshe at 80-years-old, an old man—even in those days 80-years-old was “old”—and he’d run away when he was 26-years-old. All the Jews were in Egypt and he was in Ethiopia. He hadn’t seen a Jew in 54 years! At 80 years of age, he’s a shepherd--what glory is there in that? Could you imagine the day before the sne—Burning Bush, what he must have been thinking?—it’s over! Nothing will change. I’m eighty years old, an old man. What could change? There’s no hope. How could he not think that?
The next day, at the Burning Bush, his life changed. His life before that day was nothing compared to what it became after. He became Moshe Rabbeinu the redeemer of Israel, the one who brought the Jews to Eretz Yisrael, the one who gave them the Torah! It’s unbelievable how he elevated the Jews from slaves to tzaddikim. His life had no meaning before the Burning Bush. His life began at the age of 80. It’s classic! Before redemption, a person thinks: it’s over; it’ll never change. He’s forlorn.
Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, in the blink of an eye, your life can change because that’s what G-D can do and that’s what G-d wants. He wants you to think that it’ll never change because He wants you to believe in Him, to believe that it could change if only G-D wants. Nobody knows what will happen at the End of Time. We just have the statement of G-D and have to cling to bitachon.
It’s like Yogi Berra, the famous ball-player, said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” As long as you’re alive, you never know….It could change in the blink of an eye. Everybody can be elevated. Everybody can be redeemed. That’s what’s going to happen. It will happen gradually once it begins, but the turn-around, the change from evil to good when the decree of evil is over and the decree that good must be successful, will happen in the blink of an eye. We’ll be stunned that, all of a sudden, everything becomes good. Everything good succeeds—hatzlacha! It’s hard to believe, but that will happen in the blink of an eye. So, don’t give up! Hang in there and you will experience the incredible transcendence from despair to ultimate glory and ultimate exhilaration.
Q & A
Participant: You spoke about the stages of hopelessness that the Egyptians went through. They were slaves and then Moshe was powerless and then the Egyptians were behind them when the sea was splitting…. So we go through these stages as well?
R’Kessin: Yes, which is what I’m saying.
Participant: What stage (are we in)?
R’Kessin: Well, if you take a look, America is the beacon of the world and America has now constitutionalized immorality. That’s what’s happened. You can’t change that anymore. I once mentioned that the midrash says that what sealed the decree of the mabul—Flood was that they committed sins which doomed civilization, theft and all kinds of corruption and injustice and so on. But that didn’t seal their fate of the Flood. What sealed it was, as the midrash on parashas “Noach” says, that when a man who married another man or an animal—a guy could marry his pet!—would have to write a kesubah—marriage contract. Their evil dictated that they would have to document, legally, the corruption. So, G-D said: enough is enough!
That’s what America has become. They have corrupted themselves in a way which dooms society. Now, it’s the “in” thing to be homosexual, to be LGBTQ. It’s astounding! I don’t want to dwell on that but that’s the problem—America. It’s a beacon to the entire world which means that this is going to spread throughout the planet so how can the world continue to exist? Therefore, this is the End. That’s the despair. It’s one thing when these things happen but they’re not legalized. When this stuff is legalized, it’s over because you cannot reverse it. It’s going to spread the discrimination to the point at which a yeshiva will be compelled to hire a homosexual. Think about that!
First, they’re trying to kill all the infants with abortion. Even though the Supreme Court has reversed “Roe versus Wade,” they haven’t overturned abortion. They’ve simply given it over to the state legislatures but it’s still going to happen; that’s murder! That’s legal—right?
What they’re doing now is, in kindergarten, as I’ve heard, they’ve introduced curriculum to promote sexual deviation. You can’t believe the books they’re given to read in kindergarten, the early grades, books destroying the youth. First, they kill the infants and now they destroy the youth. Then, when you get to college, all the colleges have “left” professors, liberals….So this is all legal and mainstream now.
Participant: It’s like Egypt; they killed the infants.
R’Kessin: Exactly. It’s an onslaught against the future, against the youth, straight through to college. And they’re trying to do it to society overall. You can’t use pronouns that indicate gender. It’s destroying America. The cities are filled with crime; what kind of nonsense is this?—defund the police? You can walk into a store and steal up to $1,000 in San Francisco and other places and you’re not charged and they don’t bother arresting you. That’s mamash gezeila—really theft! This is the mabul—Flood, the generation of the Flood. There’s no more justice. That’s what happened in the generation of the Flood. We are looking at a repeat of that generation. We know what G-D did. He wiped out those people. Imagine what it took for G-D to destroy the planet! Imagine how evil the planet had to be to do that! That’s the greatest, most extreme punishment that G-D has ever done. He wiped out mankind. America has now replicated that evil; that’s the despair. You’re looking at a society that’s been the beacon to the world and it’s steeped in depravity and injustice that won’t be reversed. The laws of immigration which Biden is breaking allows people in without vetting them; it’s incredible! He denies it, says he’s doing it slowly, but he’s breaking the law. The whole of society is lawless. Felonies are reduced to misdemeanors. Guys are walking around murdering because they know there are no consequences.
“Pirkei Avot”—Ethics of our Fathers says that, were it not for the “fear of the kingdom (of Heaven),” a just kingdom, “they’d swallow you whole while you’re alive.” Without justice, the rampant spread of crime and total immorality is inevitable—youth, infants, embryos, college students, everybody. Take a look at social media, Twitter, Facebook, Google, all of them. They’re all for corruption and they influence people. The media, the corporations, are all against righteousness. They all support corruption, injustice, and evil. The media does this! A guy can look at them and think: wow! This is an army of evil. It’s despairing. How do you change this? They are affecting the fabric of American society and it will ultimately spread to the entire world. It’s not just America.
Israel, tragically, has the gay-pride parades, right? Israel is a “mini-America,” always trying to imitate America. That’s part of the problem. Israel aspires to imitate America whose corruption spreads to Israel. It spreads to Europe and everywhere. Where America goes, so goes the world and, like Abraham Lincoln said, “America is the last best hope of earth” and he was right. If America is gone, the world is finished.
Biden’s weakness is why China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea think they can get away with what they’re doing; they’re “doing” nuclear. We’re not talking about conventional weapons. I’m not even going into the fact that Biden is cognitively dysfunctional. They all realize that now is their time and they’re not afraid. These powers are no longer afraid of the policeman on the block—America. You realize that the evil of the world has become legalized, pervasive, constitutionalized.
How are you gonna change it?—you’re not! That is the greatest indication that we are right up against the messianic era. Once we’ve replicated the Flood generation, G-D is not going to allow this to continue--the crime, the immorality which would destroy the human race. Just like the Flood generation was destroying the human race in the eyes of G-D and He ended it, G-D will end it but will do so by making everybody suffer the Darkness for the reasons I’ve mentioned and then He’s going to bring mashiach NOW.
Participant: When you were talking about loshon ha’ra and how it gave the Satan a claim against us, but if we complain, is that, technically, speaking loshon ha’ra about Ha’shem— G-D?
R’Kessin: Yes, sure.
Participant: Is loshon ha’ra against Ha’Shem worse, more severe, than speaking of one’s child or…?
R’Kessin: Yes, because when you denigrate G-D, that’s bad news. Belief in G-D is a fundamental pillar of attaining righteousness and when you denigrate G-D, in essence you’re saying that, not only is something wrong with G-D, but you don’t have to observe his mitzvos. You are undermining the whole basis of holiness and righteousness and Torah observance. That’s much worse.
I want to mention one thing which I forgot, that I have dedicated this shiur to Rini Malko Regina bas Yosef Reuven, that it should be for an aliyas neshama—elevation of the soul of this person.
Participant: When we were talking about the 17th if Tamuz, saying that it was the day that Moshe was not able to be the Mashiach ben Yosef….
R’Kessin: Right, because of the cheit ha’egel—Sin of the Golden Calf, right…
Participant: …so then what is this saying about the power of the day, what we should be focusing on?
R’Kessin: The power of the day is to accept the mitzvos and do teshuva. The repentance is about returning to spirituality. In the end, the real teshuva that a person has to do is something you have to realize as two concepts: teshuva is about repenting on a specific sin or on sinning, generally—that’s one idea. But what you really want to repent on is what’s called “commitment,” to commit to join, to be part of, the entire concept of Judaism. Judaism says to do the Will of G-D. Doing the Will of G-D is much greater than just a mitzvah or mitzvos. The Will of G-D includes many things in terms of tikkun middos--character development and so many other things. Real repentance has to be about wanting to come together, to get back to G-D. It’s really all about G-D. This world is about G-D, not us. Your life has to be completely immersed in G-D and what G-D wants which is, of course, to do the mitzvos and more than that. That’s the real teshuva.
I once mentioned the RAVaD, Rabbi Avraham ben David, the one who writes the critiques against the RaMBaM who asked what G-D looks for when He judges a person. It’s not just that G-D would say: well, you did this sin or that sin; we’re not talking about adding up sins. What G-D wants is that a person should commit to Him; are you with Me or against Me?
It’s like Moshe Rabbeinu when the Jews sinned with the Golden Calf. Moshe didn’t say: well, who regrets allowing these people to build the Calf? He didn’t say that. He said, “mi l’ha’Shem eilai”—who is with G-D, come to my side. He didn’t even refer to the sin of the Golden Calf. The sin, in and of itself, is not critical. The critical question is: what do your decisions indicate about where you belong—with G-D or not? Of course, you can sin. You’re going to sin, but that’s not the major thing.
The 17th of Tamuz is the time that Moshe spoke of when he asked, “Who is with G-D and who not?” That day ushers in the “three weeks.” This is a different way to look at it. It’s not about looking at a specific sin but, instead, about asking yourself if you’re a member of the society of G-D or not. Of course, you’re going to strive to do the mitzvos because that’s what the membership entails; to be a member of a group entails observing the rules of the group.
Participant: How old was Moshe when he passed away?
R’Kessin: Moshe was exactly 120 years old. He was born on zayin Adar—7th of Adar and died on the 7th of Adar. He was born and died on the same date exactly 120 years later.
Participant: What does that entail when somebody is born and passes on the same day—a full circle?
R’Kessin: It usually means he’s a tzaddik. That’s called “shleimus”—completion. He really fulfilled all his years. There are people who do that, though it’s not common but, believe me, it indicates you were a righteous person.