GOVERNMENT INTRUSION INTO OUR PRIVATE LIVES IS A SIGN OF MOSHIACH
July 4, 2013
Rabbi H. Greenberg in #886, Mattos-Massei, Moshiach & Geula, Parsha Thought

As we stand on the very threshold of the Final Redemption, the Rebbe exhorted us to engage the mind in subjects that relate to Moshiach and Redemption. This way, the Rebbe explained, we reshape our way of thinking; we experience a paradigm shift. And this is how we begin the process of conquering, not only the Seven Lands which correspond to our emotions, but also the Three Lands which correspond to the way we think.

AROUSING SUSPICION

One of Judaism’s standards of conduct that reflects its ethos can be found in the discussion Moses had with two of the twelve tribes—Gad and Reuven—who wished to remain on the east bank of the Jordan River rather than share the Land of Canaan with the other ten tribes.

Moses was initially perturbed by their request; that they did not want to join their brethren in the conquest of the land. But, in response to Moses’ criticism of their request, they reassured him that their intention was to cross the Jordan with the entire Jewish nation, fight their battles, and then, after the other ten tribes would receive their inheritance in the land, return to the east bank of the Jordan.

Moses accepted their proposal and stipulated: “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before G-d for the battle, and every armed man among you shall cross the Jordan before G-d, until He drives out His enemies before Him, and the land shall be conquered before G-d, and then you shall return – then you shall be vindicated from G-d and from Israel, and this land shall be a heritage for you before G-d.”

The Mishna (Sh’kalim 3:2) derives from the words “then you shall be vindicated from G-d and from Israel” that a person should always act in a manner that does not arouse suspicion from others. It is not enough to know that our conscience is clear and that our actions are proper in G-d’s eyes. We must also act in such a manner as not to arouse suspicion on the part of human beings. This law has many practical applications discussed in various parts of the Talmud.

THREE EXPLANATIONS

There are differing views as to the rationale for this requirement. Some say that this is akin to the oft cited prohibition of maris ayin, which forbids any action that can be misinterpreted and causes people to think that a certain prohibited behavior is actually permissible. This, in turn, is akin to another Biblical commandment not to place a stumbling block before the blind. To cause someone to sin is no less of a crime than causing him or her bodily harm.

Another view claims that the need to not arouse suspicion in the eyes of others is distinct from the maris ayin. By acting in a suspicious manner one causes others to sin by falsely suspecting an innocent person.

The common denominator in both of these explanations is that they reflect concern for the spiritual well-being of other people. In the first approach, it is our concern that the other might erroneously think that a certain prohibited action is permissible and then engage in that forbidden activity. In the latter explanation the damage caused to others is the violation of the law that forbids suspecting an innocent person of wrongdoing.

One may posit a third approach to the imperative of being vindicated in the eyes of both G-d and other humans.

FINDING A TIKKUN

When a person harbors a suspicion about another—even if he or she is innocent—it is a sign from above that there may be an underlying and subconscious level of impurity in the person’s motives.

A story is told of a man who asked the second Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Dovber, known as the Mitteler Rebbe) for a tikkun (a means to achieve purification of a sin) for a sin he had committed. The Rebbe asked him to leave the room and then shuttered himself in his study for a few days, engaged in heartfelt prayers and profound introspection. Only after that did he offer a tikkun to that individual.

The Rebbe later explained his unusual behavior. When a person comes to a Rebbe for a tikkun, the Rebbe has to find that sin, albeit in the most subtle form, in his own life, which he works on perfecting. Only then is he empowered to help the other with the perfection of his sin. That individual’s sin was so reprehensible that the Rebbe could not find even the subtlest form of that sin in himself. Yet, the mere fact that the person came to the Rebbe for assistance meant that the Rebbe had the need and the ability to help. The Rebbe, therefore, had to engage in introspection to find that imperfection deeply embedded in his own soul. Only then was he able to help this person with a tikkun.

In a similar vein, it may be suggested that when a person’s behavior arouses suspicion in others it is a sign that there might be a subtle imperfection in that person’s behavior. And it is the imperfection that others feel which they then exaggerate by imputing even more serious flaws to the actions of that person.

The lesson from this approach is that we must always scrutinize our behavior not only for obvious sins and flaws but even for the subtle nuances that lurk beneath the surface.

CONQUEST OF THE SEVEN EMOTIONAL ATTRIBUTES

The fact that this lesson is derived from the narrative of the Jewish nations poised to conquer and inherit the Land of Israel is a sign that it has a special connection to our ability to conquer the land.

Conquest of the land of Canaan is referred to in the Torah as the “Land of the Seven Nations.” In Chassidic literature, these seven nations are also a metaphor for the seven emotional attributes that we possess. Conquest of the land implies that we must not only refine our actions, but also the emotions that underlie those actions. “Be vindicated from G-d and from Israel, and this land shall be a heritage for you before G-d,” suggests that in order to conquer the land we must act in ways that will not engender suspicion of our motives because deep down we will have so refined our characters that our motives will be pure.

There is a parallel to our own day and age.

We, too, stand poised to enter into the Land of Israel with Moshiach at our head. We, too, have to focus on refining our emotions and character so that no one senses any flaws in our motives.

NO MORE SECRETS!

However, there is an added dimension to the above in light of the Rebbe’s statement that in the present pre-Final Redemption era the virtues and flaws that are deeply embedded in our soul are surfacing. We, therefore discover that some people whom we thought of as mediocre have achieved phenomenal success in their lives and, conversely, people whom we regarded as great have exhibited uncharacteristically negative behavior and tendencies. The reason this is happening, the Rebbe explained, is based on the verse in the Book of Daniel that prophesizes that before the Redemption all hidden matters will be revealed.

There has never been a time in history when so many secrets have been exposed. As we speak, the most classified information of the country’s top secret agencies, the NSA and the CIA, are being compromised and exposed to the entire world. Deeply confidential conversations are recorded and exposed.

The good news is that because all the subliminal and subterranean levels of our soul are surfacing, we now have the ability to deal with these flaws and correct/perfect them. We are also beneficiaries of the incredible, latent talents that are surfacing and that we can more easily access and harness.

CONQUERING THE TEN NATIONS

Chassidic literature cites the promise made by G-d to Abraham, that his descendants will inherit ten lands, not just the original seven. These additional three lands, referred to in the Torah as Keini, K’nizi and Kadmoni, correspond to the three intellectual faculties we each possess. These three faculties cannot be refined in the present period and we must wait for the final Redemption for that to occur. Living in Galus/exile does not provide us with the opportunity and capacity to conquer our minds. Our perspectives are molded and shaped by our environment. Thousands of years of exile have taken their toll and have colored the way we think.

However, as we stand on the very threshold of the Final Redemption, the Rebbe exhorted us to engage the mind in subjects that relate to Moshiach and Redemption. This way, the Rebbe explained, we reshape our way of thinking; we experience a paradigm shift. And this is how we begin the process of conquering, not only the Seven Lands which correspond to our emotions, but also the Three Lands which correspond to the way we think.

Thus, the imperative to “be vindicated” is particularly relevant to us. We must work on refinement of the totality of our being—emotions and intellect—as a preparation for us to bring about the ultimate Redemption, which will give us the entire inheritance that we were promised.

 

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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