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Sunday
May192019

RISING IN RAGS

What kindness is there in resurrecting Jews in the filthy clothing of exile? What compassion is there in prolonging their ailments in the Future Era? * Try to be a tzaddik?

By Rabbi Boruch Merkur

So, you’re not perfect. At least it bothers you. You go to rabbis and mashpiim to confirm your suspicion…

And they are in agreement. You are a rasha – v’tov lo. You defy G-d’s will, but at least you have some regret.

Good for you. You’ve got some good left in your sullied soul – your regret. But essentially, you are a rasha. (A very dangerous identity to assume, as our Sages instruct: “‘Don’t be wicked in your own eyes’ – lest you go totally off the path” —Rambam on Pirkei Avos 2:13)

True, the Rebbe said:

In our times, there are no wicked people. Even those whose behavior appears to be sinful, when you consider their situation it is apparent that they are only “infants kidnapped and raised among the Gentile nations.” (Toras Menachem 5743, pg. 1280)

The problem of our generation is ignorance. But surely that doesn’t apply to me? I am frum from birth. I know the first twelve chapters of Tanya by heart. Then why can’t I put it into practice? Is it simply out of reach? That can’t be: “ki karov eilecha, etc.” It is totally within our grasp. Am I just lazy then? Or am I not well? Broken? Maybe when Moshiach comes, I will finally be whole, finally cured…

***

Quoting a fascinating Midrash, the Rebbe explains how illness will actually be sustained in the initial stages of T’chiyas HaMeisim, the Resurrection of the Dead. Jews will rise with their former illnesses and wearing their sullied galus-attire:

The redemption unfolds with immediacy: “He did not delay their [salvation] even the bat of an eye.” Thus, Jews will be redeemed as they are now, literally in the clothing they are currently wearing, even if they are “sullied garments.” “Remove the sullied garments…from upon him” takes place only after the redemption has begun.* (See Zecharia 3:3 ff.)

How much more so will the redemption unfold with immediacy when “Your nation is entirely righteous.”

*Footnote 154: As explained regarding T’chiyas HaMeisim: “(All those stricken by G-d in this world, will be healed by G-d in the Future Era) … As one goes [about in the world], so he comes [to be resurrected], etc. As he dresses, so will he be clothed, etc. Only then will I heal them.” (Bereishis Rabba 95, beg.; Zohar III 91a)

What kindness is there in resurrecting Jews in the filthy clothing of exile? What compassion is there in prolonging their ailments in the Future Era?

The Midrash itself provides a reason: so that it won’t be misconstrued that these are different people rising to merit eternal life.

G-d says: Let them therefore rise as they were and I shall heal them afterward. Why is this? “(In order that you should know and believe in Me and understand that I am He.) Before Me no god was formed and after Me none shall be.” (Yeshaya 43:10)

“All this I have done in order for you to be sensitive in your heart to know Me.” (Rashi on the verse)

This Midrash underscores the importance of identity, from both our perspective and that of G-d. From our perspective it should be clear that the nation who celebrates the ultimate victory and reunion with G-d is the same nation who suffered the horribly lengthy and brutal exile. The same rasha v’tov lo, the sensitive soul who regrets his shortcomings, the one who tried so hard to figure out why he fails, will maintain his identity and merit to behold his deficiencies melt away when G-d finally shines upon us and showers us openly with love.

From G-d’s perspective, He wants us to see that the One Who brought us trials and tribulations, often resulting in our stumbling and falling, often leaving us broken or shattered – He is the G-d Who heals us now and clothes us, the One Who consoles us and bestows honor upon us forevermore.

***

The best advice though is to take the message to heart now, donning pure garments and healing ourselves in preparation for that awesome time. There is a revolutionary power available now to each person, something that has never been before, as the Rebbe describes at length in Parshas Emor 5751:

In the Future Era, the essence of the soul … will fully illuminate all of one’s powers and faculties … Although the ultimate expression of this wondrous spiritual state will be in the Future Era, it is already accessible now. …

Simply put, through Torah study in general and especially through the study of the inner dimension of the Torah, as revealed through Toras HaChassidus – including gazing at the face of the Rebbe … one becomes a vessel to contain … the revelation of G-d’s Infinite Essence (ko’ach ha’Atzmus) within a created being …

In terms of one’s avoda (described in the beginning of Sefer HaTanya), a Jew must not only shun evil – “don’t be a rasha” – but also “be a tzaddik.” Since we exist in a physical and coarse world, a soul within a body and an Animal Soul, “not every person merits to be a tzaddik, nor does he have so much free choice in the matter, etc.” (Tanya Ch. 14). But since, as above, there is the power of G-d’s Infinite Essence in the physical body (of a Jew), even as he is below he can achieve the highest levels, including “be a tzaddik” (at least by means of “he should do his part in fulfilling the oath that souls take, ‘be a tzaddik, etc.’ Moreover, habituation, etc., becomes second nature,” “In fact, habituating oneself, etc., elicits a response from On High. Amidst all this effort, perhaps a soul will be stirred, etc., and he will merit the aspect of Ruach from the spiritual source of a tzaddik, etc.”). The innovation here is that after all that has been done until now throughout history – in refining and purifying the world, etc. – now every Jew can surely attain the highest levels, even openly reaching “be a tzaddik” (the realization of “all of Your nation is righteous”), as it will be fully revealed in the true and complete redemption.

(Shabbos Parshas Emor, 20 Iyar 5751; Seifer HaSichos 5751, pg. 532-533)

Our G-dly soul is our true, core identity. Tapping into this G-dly essence now and shedding the sullied garments of exile will inspire us and fuel us to bring redemption to ourselves and to the world with the immediate arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu. ■

 

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