Thursday, April 11, 2019

how can we celebrate geulah when we are still enslaved in galus?

Haven't had much time to think or write lately...

Before inyana d'yoma of Shabbos, two notes on inyana d'yoma of Israel's effort to reach the moon:

1) I work in IT and spend my time troubleshooting problems all day.  Believe me, when you invest lots of time trying different ways to solve a problem and nothing works, it can be very frustrating.  If I was part of that team that spent months working on engineering the moon landing only to see the lander crash, I think I would have torn keriya and ripped my hair out of my head on the spot.  The fact that no one responded that way is a testimony to the amazing professionalism of those engineers. 

2) I happen to be in the middle of 2 books, one history, one a memoir, that deal with the Holocaust.  I am willing to bet that if you would have told a Jew in 1944 that in 75 years he will be able to watch an engineering team from an independent Jewish state, speaking in our national language of Hebrew, with the eyes of the world on us, become one of the few countries in the world to send a spaceship to the moon, he would have thought you were totally bonkers.  The control room had folks with beards and yalmukas, there was even a Rav who was a consultant on the project because they wanted to minimize chilul Shabbos...  absolutely unbelievable.  We need to recognize chasdei Hashem and give thanks.

3) M'inyan l'inyan on the same topic -- We open the seder with on ha lachma anya inviting guests to join us in celebrating, and then we say l'shanah ha'ba'ah we will be in Eretz Yisrael.  How does that fit into our invitation?  What does one thing have to do with the other?

The Ya'avetz says a remarkable answer really worth seeing and saying over at your seder.  Before we can invite people to celebrate, we need to understand what we are celebrating.  How can we celebrate our redemption -- geulah -- when we are still in galus?! 

The haggadah answers that this is not true.  We are lacking complete geulah, but we are not slaves any longer.  L'shanah ha'ba'ah b'ar'ah d'Yisrael -- baruch Hashem, I and many other people have kids who literally will be spending next year in Eretz Yisrael.  Any one of us can theoretically hop on a flight and be there tomorrow if we wanted.  We are bnei chorin -- we can stand proudly on the world stage toe to toe with any other nation on the glob, just like any other free, independent people. 

So yes, we are still in galus, but that doesn't me we don't have what to celebrate, and in doing so, we should invite others to join us as well.

(For the nitpickers out there, yes, I modified the answer of the Yaavetz slightly from the way he put it, but I think I accurately captured his point.)

4) Why do we connect Shabbos to Pesach?  They took the korban pesach on 10 Nisan, so we should celebrate 10 Nisan.  Why do we choose to celebrate the day, not the date?

Throughout the parshiyos leading to yetzi'as Mitzrayim, Moshe kept asking Pharoah for one thing: give us three days.  You can't expect us to worship G-d here in Egypt.  Moshe didn't even daven there in Egypt because it was a makom tumah.  We need three days outside, three days of escape from the confines of impurity, to go somewhere where we can find G-d.  

We get to Shabbos before the exodus, and suddenly the whole plan changes.  Suddenly Moshe tells us to take sheep, the very item used as an avodah zarah by Egypt, to bring it in our homes, and to plan to offer it as a korban in Egypt, the very same makom tumah that he didn't even want to daven in.   

The lesson Moshe was teaching is that G-d is not out there somewhere else, somewhere distant from the messiness, challenges, and pitfalls of everyday life.  You don't have to escape reality for three days or even for one day to go serve G-d.  G-d is right here with you, here and now.

That change in perspective is what Shabbos is all about.

Lecha Hashem ha'**gedulah** -- says the gemara, gedulah = ma'aseh braishis.  The world is supposed to reveal the greatness of G-d.  Mizmor shir l'yom haShabbos...  Mah **gadlu** ma'asecha Hashem!  Shabbos **ha'gadol** -- G-d is immanent in his wondrous creation.  Shabbos breaks the cycle of the work week and says "Time out!" -- there is something behind all the ups and downs of the week.  The place to find G-d is not in some afterlife, not by journeying outside the normal routine, but to the contrary -- Shabbos tells us that G-d is with us here and now, that creation itself has a borei and a manhig running the show.  You don't need to escape somewhere else to find him.


  1. "G-d is not out there"; "That change in perspective is what Shabbos is all about"

    nissan was the seventh synodic day, counting from creation's tishrei (inclusive); the moon's Shabbos. such scheduling is a sure-fire formula for engine failure.

    did G-d, finding that Israeli reverence for technology has gone too far, nonetheless determine bdei eved to receive the lander as a 'korban olah' on an 'altar'* called "the moon"?

    *Avraham's altar, Bereishis One (Bereishis 12:7), was the first [passively] authorized foreign lander of note. unless Hashem builds a thing, he who labors builds in vain (sfasemes.blogspot, Sept. 19, 2014, comment 1**, first paragraph)

    {**see comment 2 too, inasmuch as "shtickel" is a wondrously fun word}

  2. #3 is easy: How many people would attends an Asarah beNissan haGadol derashah if it were on a Tuesday?

    Seriously, the name of the Shabbos comes from the Haftora. I don't think the reservation of the qorban 4 days before is the real reason the Shabbos is considered special. I really do think it became special because it was a good date for a last minute shiur. There were once piyutim said the Shabbos before Sukkos (when not YK) too.