Living in Reality

Rabbi Zvi Teichman

The Holy Maggid of Kozhnitz observes that in the portions of Miketz and Vayigash, where the entire drama between the brothers and the ‘viceroy’ in Egypt plays out, there is not one usage of the Name י-ה-ו-ה, the Tetragrammaton, the name that signifies G-d’s compassion.

The first time it appears is at the conclusion of Yaakov’s blessing to Dan, where a reference is made to Shimshon when he appealed to G-d to provide him the strength to avenge the Pelishtim, uttering the prayerלישועתך קויתי י-ה-ו-ה  — For your salvation do I long, O Hashem!(רבינו בחיי) 

The Maggid explains that throughout that episode, the G-d of Compassion seemed absent. Certainly, though, He was very much present, albeit ‘hidden’, orchestrating the events for the ultimate benefit of His children, which will become apparent when the final salvation transpires.

What is it about the tragic end of Shimshon and his final appeal to G-d for salvation, that embodies for all of history until the final redemption, the secret to survival and the maintaining of hope and positivity even in the darkest of times?

Yaakov Avinu had originally intended to reveal to his children the ‘End of Days’ but it was withheld from him. G-d feared that the knowledge of the exact time might lead to complacency, or worse, to despondency during the long wait. Only by living a life of faith and hope could one assure the survival of the legacy of the patriarchs until the final redemption. One who lives with that trust can sense His compassion, even in the most trying of times.

Each day we pray in the Amidah for the coming of Moshiach, paraphrasing this sentiment, asking G-d to ‘speedily cause to flourish Your servant David, כי לישועתך קוינו כל היוםfor we hope for your salvation all day long.

Is it simply living with hope alone that will compel G-d to bring him? Doesn’t it require self-improvement and total allegiance in the performance of the mitzvos as enumerated in Torah?

We are taught that after our sojourn in this physical realm we will be asked several critical questions to see if we deserve reward in the World to Come. Did we deal honestly with our fellow man? Did we set times for daily Torah study? Did we try to bring children into the world?

The fourth question one will be asked is whether צפית לישועה — Did you long for salvation?

Why is this so significant? If I followed every detail in Torah with commitment, consistency, and accuracy, but did not quite yearn for redemption, will it reflect so badly on all the good I have done?

Can’t one believe with absolute faith that Moshiach will come but not be overly eager for that moment yet? Is it such a terrible contradiction?

In Pirkei Shirah, the Song of the Universe, it records the seven ‘calls’ of the rooster as each new day arrives. His fourth call is this very verse, לישועתך קויתי י-ה-ו-ה — For your salvation do I long, O Hashem!

Why of all creatures is this call unique specifically to the rooster?

The Midrash compares the infamous Bilaam to the rooster. They both know with accuracy the moment of G-d’s ire. He too, ‘called’ out seven times, attempting to prophesy the doom of the Jewish people.

His fourth ‘call’ includes the verse, I shall see Him, but not now, I shall look at Him, but it is not near. (במדבר כד יז)

The Midrash says this verse was a response to the Jewish people who approached Bilaam requesting of him to reveal to them the End of Time. 

He seems to write off the issue by saying it is irrelevant since it is so far away in the future.

The Midrash goes on to report how G-d turns to His people asking them, “Is this your attitude?!” G-d informs them how Bilaam has no interest in ‘salvation’ and they would be better off emulating their illustrious ancestor Yaakov who declared ‘For your salvation do I long, O Hashem!’, encouraging them to long for the salvation because it is close! (שמות רבה ל כד) 

The Talmud describes how the longing for the day of redemption is likened to the rooster who eagerly anticipates the arrival of daylight, crowing with delight. (סנהדרין צח:) 

The rooster knows with certainty the sun will rise. He has no doubt and lives in that reality. He longs eagerly each day to crow at the precise moments instinctive to him.

No one ever goes to sleep convincing oneself maybe upon the next morn the sun will rise a few hours later and gain some extra sleep.

But often we choose to waste our time on endeavors that while away the hours, leaving us little time to sleep. We know the morning will come but refuse to face that reality, choosing to indulge in immediate gratification, ignoring the consequences of our choices.

When one ‘lives’ one’s beliefs, one eagerly tackles what must be faced with a sense of purpose and commitment.

Bilaam knew the inevitable but selected to not let it interfere with his immediate desires, despite knowing very well there will be an accountability. He blocked reality from playing a role in his wants. 

The rooster thrills in its existence, performing each day with the same excitement as the day before.

Living with a consciousness of the absolute and inevitable reality of a life invigorated by the presence of the Shechinah, is not only a statement of belief, but the catalyst to infuse one’s life with that hope here and now.

If we believe Moshiach can arrive at any moment and relish the opportunities that await us in that new world, we will live inspired by, and attentive to, those hopes and aspirations.

If we truly live yearning for salvation, could we ever be comfortable engaging in venues or activities foreign to those strivings?

Shimshon despite finding himself in desperate circumstances never stopped living with his greatest hopes and aspirations. Hope springs eternal for those who fully believe in G-d and the promises of delight in this or the next world that await those who aspire for His closeness.

We will be asked not simply if we believed or even wanted redemption, rather we will be evaluated to see if those beliefs permeated our actions to live with a sanctity and holiness that accompanies us in all our endeavors.

Several years ago, a story was told about a farmer who had recently ‘returned’ to faith and decided to observe the laws of Shemittah, fully without compromise. On the Erev Yom Kippur of that year, a fire broke out in his vast olive orchard, threatening to destroy his entire crop. He could see the fires raging but knew there wasn’t ample time to put it out without violating the impending Yom Tov. He chose to put it out of his mind and devote himself to the avodah of Yom Kippur, saying to himself, in the spirit of the day, “kapparat avonot” — may this be an atonement for my sins. 

After Yom Kippur he inspected the damage, discovering the totally charred grove, with the trees in jeopardy of dying. Experts suggested trimming the trees and possibly salvaging the roots. He inquired of his Rav if this was permitted. After delving into the issue, he was told that it wasn’t a simple issue, but considering the extreme loss there was room to be lenient.

He decided to leave the trees as is.

Miraculously, several months later, the blackened trees began sprouting green leaves, beginning to recover. Over that time his daughter survived a terrible car accident, leaving unscathed.

Eventually his Rav asked him what motivated him to be strict even though he was dispensed a lenient ruling.

He responded by sharing that since he became observant, he dreamed daily how one day the oil he produced from his coveted orchard would be worthy to be used for the Menorah, when Moshiach would come and restore the Temple. He knew that for the Temple use, the oil they would select would not only have to be the purest, but also free from any halachic doubt and possible taint.

When one lives within true reality — not misled by the illusory world of easy enticements that, as Bilaam, blinds us from seeing the absolute and compelling truth of Torah — one’s whole life experience is infused with a spirit of purity that elevates us, enthuses us, and protects us.

May we crow with joy with each opportunity that G-d sends our way, bringing the hope of salvation into our lives, eager and worthy to greet the Moshiach at any given moment.

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