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Tuesday
Nov032015

HAKHEL: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh

In this week’s Parsha we find two central themes: 1) the passing of Sara and the purchase of the M’aras HaMachpeila, and 2) the successful search of Eliezer in finding a wife (Rivka) for Yitzchak. 

Both of the above themes are very much connected to the Mitzva of Hakhel (the following is based on the Sicha of Chayei Sara 5748 pgs. 90-91):

1) Regarding the passing of Sara, the Torah (23:1) tells us: “And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.”  From the verse it is clear that there are three separate categories (100 years, twenty, 7 years) yet they all come together to represent a single whole of 127.

On a literal level, Rashi explains the above: “The reason that the word ‘years’ was written after every digit is to tell you that every digit is to be expounded upon individually: when she was one hundred years old, she was like a twenty-year-old regarding sin. Just as a twenty-year-old has not sinned, because she is not liable for punishment, so too when she was one hundred years old, she was without sin. And when she was twenty, she was like a seven-year-old with regard to beauty.”

On a deeper level, it is explained that these three levels represent a person’s inner three attributes: 1) the higher powers of will and pleasure; 2) intellect; and 3) emotions. According to Kabbala, these three attributes are a person’s inner “Man, woman and children.” The Torah is telling us here that – just as by Sara – “All of them (were) equally good,” so too we must work on ourselves until our inner attributes are equally good and focused on the service of Hashem. This is really the message of Hakhel, as the Torah tells us: Assemble the people: the men, the women, and the children, and your stranger in your cities, in order that they hear, and in order that they learn and fear the Lord, your God, and they will observe to do all the words of this Torah.

2) The legal purchase of the M’aras HaMachpeila took place in Chevron. What was unique about this purchase was that even though Avraham was promised the entire Eretz Yisroel from Hashem, this is the first part that he actually acquired and was agreed upon even by the local non-Jewish legal system. This started the process of the Jewish people owning Eretz Yisroel. This also begins the process of Hakhel which needs to take place in Eretz Yisroel and needs to be when all of the Jewish people are settled there.

3) The marriage of Yitzchak and Rivka was a vital step in the continuation of the growth of the Jewish people. Yet we find that Avraham did not pick a wife for Yitzchak from the local Philistine population, rather he had Eliezer travel to the distant – and morally decadent – city of Charan to bring “a member of his family” back to Eretz Yisroel.

This is a vital message for Hakhel: All Jews (men, woman and children) are part of the family. Some may have wandered – and many due to circumstances not in their control – to places like Charan and may find themselves uninspired to serve Hashem.  In this year of Hakhel, we have the strength to go to the Yidden that find themselves – even – in those places and “bring them back to Eretz Yisroel,” i.e., get them involved in the service of Hashem. 

All the above is obviously also connected to Moshiach (see footnote 92 in the above-mentioned sicha): When Moshiach comes, all Jewish people – unlike the exodus from Mitzrayim that only 20% of the Jewish people were redeemed – will be redeemed and brought back to Eretz Yisroel and serve Hashem. This comes through the unity – “Hakhel” – of B’nei Yisroel right before Moshiach. On a similar note, it is explained in s’farim that whenever we mention King Dovid, we mention that he is the son of Yishai. Yishai is the acronym of three Hebrew words “Yachad Shivtei Yisroel – All Jews united together.” When we have “Yishai,” we will be able to give birth and bring “Dovid” – Moshiach who comes from Dovid. May it be now!

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com.

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