Dreaming of Moshiach

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Trust HaShem

Two of the most commonly cited reasons why many Jews fail to make aliyah are: financial hardships and physical danger. People are worried that they will not be able to make ends meet here, and they are very concerned about the current security situation in Israel. I believe that this week’s parashah addresses both of these concerns and puts them into proper perspective. Midrash Tanchuma on Parashat Tazria (6) relates the following story:

A kohen who used to “see” [i.e. diagnose] tzara’at afflictions became
impoverished and decided to go to Chutz LaAretz. [Before leaving], he called
upon his wife and said to her: “People come to me regularly to show me their
afflictions, and I find it difficult to leave them. Therefore, come and I will
teach you how to diagnose afflictions. If you see that the ‘wellspring’ [i.e.
source of sustenance] of a person’s hair has dried up, you can be sure that he
is plagued. For, the Holy One Blessed be He created a separate ‘wellspring’ for
every single hair, from which it ‘drinks.’ If the well dries up, so does the

His wife replied: “If the Holy One Blessed be He created a separate ‘wellspring’ for every single hair…, then He will certainly provide sustenance for you – a human being with many hairs, upon whom your children depend.” Therefore, she did not let him leave the Land.

This kohen had a serious flaw in his bitachon in HaShem. Fortunately, however, his wife set him straight. He thought that his sustenance depended solely on his own efforts, but his wife taught him that although one has to do one’s hishtadlut, in the long run one’s livelihood is in God’s hands. And it is not coincidental that this incident took place in Eretz Yisrael. Outside of God’s Special Land, a person can easily fool himself into thinking that he is in control, that his income is directly proportionate to his efforts. In Eretz Yisrael, however, where God’s providence is much more pronounced, one develops a keen understanding that we are completely dependant on God.

Alternatively, perhaps God makes it more difficult to make a living in Eretz Yisrael because He wants us to choose to live there for the right reasons, not because of physical comfort. It is a test to see whether we are willing to lower our standards of living in order to dwell in the King’s Palace.

No matter how we look at it, it is clear that God can sustain us in Eretz Yisrael just as He can in Chutz LaAretz. The only difference is our level of bitachon. Living in the Courtyard of HaShem demands an extra measure of faith and more self-sacrifice on our part. But it is well worth it in the end.

Turning now to the second major deterrent to aliyah: the current situation in Israel. I believe that there is a source in Parashat Metzora that teaches us how to view diversity in general and particularly in Eretz Yisrael. The verse states, When you come into the Land of Canaan which I give you as a possession, and I will place a tzara’at affliction on a house in the Land of your possession (VaYikra 14:34).

The words “When you come” seem to be out of place here, because they usually preface a good tiding. Rashi (quoting Chazal) explains: I WILL PLACE A TZARA’AT AFFLICTION: This was a good tiding for them, that they would be afflicted with tzara’at. For the Amorites hid treasures of gold in the walls of their homes during the forty years that the Jews wandered in the wilderness, and now, because of the affliction, the Jews will knock down the houses and find the treasures.”

Just imagine you are one of the Jews who entered the Land with Yehoshua bin Nun, zs"kl. After years of wandering and living in cramped tents, you finally move into a spacious home. You invest a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort into renovating the place, until you finally settle in. Then, you start noticing funny colors appearing on your walls. You fear the worst but hope for the best. You know that if this growth is deemed tzara’at you will have to demolish the entire house, but you hope that it’s benign. In comes the kohen and pronounces your beautiful abode tamei. Your heart drops; you are devastated; all your dreams are shattered. What could be worse?

Nonetheless, you do as you are told and begin knocking down the walls. All of a sudden, you notice something glittering beneath the rubble. Taking a closer look, you realize that you have just found a treasure of gold worth ten times the value of your house. Now, was all that grief and disappointment warranted?

In retrospect the answer is obvious. The problem is that when a person is faced with adversity, he cannot always see beyond the here and now. What the Torah teaches us here is that in such situations we must have faith that things will get better. Moreover, we must believe that things had to happen specifically as they did. We must understand that the bad is really just a mask and a precursor for the good that is hidden beneath the surface.

One day, hopefully very soon, we will understand why we had to experience such hardships on the road to the Messianic era. In the meantime, let us remain strong and show God that we have complete faith in Him, by not letting the apparent obstacles stand in our way tomaking His Land our permanent dwelling place.

From Rav Lichtman’s “Eretz Yisrael In The Parashah”, published by Devora Publishing.

ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות
Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו