Thursday, February 28, 2013

sweet dreams

The Ksav Sofer in the previous post suggests that we have become so acclimated to our situation in galus that we no longer even hope and pray for change.  I did not want to mix my own thoughts into his beautiful derasha, so I will just tack them on here.  The gemara (Chagiga 5b) tells us:  

"V'Anochi haster astir panay ba'yom ha'hu" -- Rava said, "Hashem said, 'Even though my face is hidden from them, I still speak to them in dreams.'"  (Rashi: Only "bayom," during the day, am I hidden, but not at night, the time of dreams.  See Maharash"a for another explanation.)

What the gemara suggests to me is that even if the grim reality of day to day life obscures G-d, there always remains in our dreams the hope for a better and brighter future.  It is in those hopes and dreams that G-d's presence is felt and remains very much alive.

The sad thing about growing older is that our dreams and hopes become so small.  Ask a little kid what he wants to be when he grows up and he will tell you with a straight face that he wants to play shortstop for the New York Yankees (that is, until you start training him to say he wants to be a big tzadik.)  As that kid grows up, he becomes what we call "realistic," i.e. he turns off that dream.  Ask a middle age guy what he dreams of and he will tell you that he wants an easy day at work tomorrow and maybe a nicer car or a bigger house or something like that.  If he's really imaginative he will tell you he wants to stop working all together and do who knows what.  Doesn't even come close to dreaming about playing at the House that Ruth built.  That's what the Ksav Sofer was so worried about -- our dreams becoming smaller.  Our robbing ourselves of the one sliver of life where Hashem still openly reveals himself.  

Fortunately, at least as a nation, I don't think we've forgotten how to dream.  For 2000 years we faced the darkest reality of hester panim, but in our hearts we continued to yearn for and dream of a return to Eretz Yisrael.  "B'shuv Hashem es shivas Tzion, ha'yinu k'cholmim," the hester panim is finally lifting and what seemed like only a dream is becoming  reality.


  1. Years ago a cousin of mine told me how his brother who lived in Israel had tried to convince him to make ailyah.
    "You'll have lots of shuls and yeshivos."
    "I live in Toronto. There's lots of shuls and yeshivos."
    "Lots of kosher restaurants!"
    "We've got that too."
    "Everyone on your street will be Jewish!"
    "Got that too."
    Like so much of what we do we express our desire to return to Israel as a routine bit of rote, not as a sincere desire.

  2. Anonymous2:45 PM

    Yeah I dunno American Jews for the most part have no desire to go to Israel. I would love to but my wife is not interested. I know probably 1-2 people that want to go. Everyone else literally doesn't care at all. This is a very depressing devar torah but true.

  3. chaim b.7:56 PM

    First sentence of Rav Kook's Orot is that Eretz Yisrael is not a means to an end -- not for more shuls or yeshivos, more kosher food, etc. -- it's an end in itself whose value transcends all those particulars. Unfortunately there is no one, including in our MO yeshivos, who is learning Rav Kook outside of Eretz Yisrael.