Wednesday, May 07, 2014

a nudge in the right direction

I mentioned last post that the anti-semitism manifest throughout the world is reason enough for us to be thankful that we have Eretz Yisrael as a homeland.  To quote Commentary Magazine (link):
Those two stories, one about the concept of an aliyah of rescue [for the Jews of France] and the other about Israel dispatching trained security professionals to Jews in isolated communities [Ukraine], demonstrate a crucial point about Israel’s value to the Jewish world: not only do Jews feel safer in Israel than in most places in the world, but Jews feel safer all around the world simply because of Israel.
However, there is more to the story than that.  The gemara (Sanhedrin 97b) has a machlokes R' Eliezer and R' Yehoshua as to how we will get to the point of ultimate geulah:

ר' אליעזר אומר אם ישראל עושין תשובה נגאלין ואם לאו אין נגאלין אמר ליה רבי יהושע אם אין עושין תשובה אין נגאלין אלא הקב"ה מעמיד להן מלך שגזרותיו קשות כהמן וישראל עושין תשובה ומחזירן למוטב

R' Eliezer holds that geulah depends on teshuvah and teshuvah alone.  R' Yehoshua holds that even if Klal Yisrael fails to do teshuvah, Hashem will cause a king worse than Haman to be appointed and force us willy-nilly to come back.  (What exactly the hesber of the machlokes is is a discussion for another time.  Even according to R' Yehoshua it seems the driving force for geulah is teshuvah, just we can be pushed to get there.  See Maharasha.)

The gemara concludes with R' Eliezer being unable to respond to the arguments of R' Yehoshua, implying that he is modeh.  The gemara then adds another line (98a):

ואמר רבי אבא אין לך קץ מגולה מזה שנאמר ואתם הרי ישראל ענפכם תתנו ופריכם תשאו לעמי ישראל וגו

R' Abba says that the blossoming of the fruit trees of Eretz Yisrael is the most obvious indication that the geulah has started.

What does R' Abba's comment have to do with the previous discussion and debate (and note the language "v'amar..., " with a vav hachibur)?   How does it relate to the conclusion that R' Yehoshua is right?

Anti-semitism has been with us since the days of the Avos.  As Yitzi commented to the previous post, Chazal tell us that it's a law of nature that Eisav hates Ya'akov.  How are we supposed to recognize whether we are living through just another historical era of heightened anti-semitism, perhaps being punished by Hashem for some wrongdoing, or whether the suffering we are experiencing is really the start of the process of geulah, i.e. whether Hashem is using those anti-semites to push us to leave the Ukraine, to leave France, to leave even the US and to go to Eretz Yisrael?

R' Abba answers the question for us: look at the trees of Eretz Yisrael.  Land that was once desert is now producing fruit.  This is the sign that geulah has started, that the suffering we experience is Hashem nudging us in the right direction to move the process along. 
(I believe R' Tzvi Yehudah Kook learns the gemara this way.)

1 comment:

  1. Shkoach r chaim for the gaava trip!
    very true, that r aba is saying the blossoming of trees is a simon for the geula. Great pshat!
    Seems like The nekudas hamachlokes is if you require teshuva myira or mhahava to activate the geula.