Longing for Redemption – Part 2

Here is the continuation of the book צפית לישועה of the Chofetz Chaim. What follows is the rest of the first chapter which we began in the previous post.

However, the truth is that our sages of blessed memory also told us from the onset that not everyone would be at this exalted level, and that a new generation will arise that would be the exact opposite of the earlier ones. This generation will be at an extremely low spiritual level, and each person will behave as he sees fit (and they will not accept rebuke, as the mishna explains). Nevertheless, we must not view this with despair, because this very thing is a sign of impending redemption. The first group will bring about the redemption with their good deeds, and the second group will also play a role in bringing the redemption.

In previous generations, the generations went as they were supposed to, and all of the people of Israel continued in the tradition that was passed down from father to son, and the children received the lessons of faith and religion from their parents with love and devotion. (And as accords with proper moral conduct, which is a prerequisite for Torah, children would respect the wisdom of their parents and our Holy faith, the tradition of which was passed down through the generations going all the way back to the generation of the 600,000 men above the age of twenty, besides for the women and children, that stood at Sinai. They saw everything with their own eyes, as the verse says, “This day we saw that God will speak with man and he will live.”) This is as we say in the prayers, “His words are alive and standing… upon our fathers and upon us and our children and all the generations…” All of the desire of both parents and children was only to have the merit of Torah and good deeds and to do the will of their Father in heaven. At that time, the pressure for the advent of the redemption was not as great, because the general condition of the faith was as it was supposed to be, and as the exile of the Jewish people continued, their merits only amassed more and more. This was from the patience they had, waiting and longing for Moshiach for such a long time, staying strong in their faith and longing for salvation. Like our sages say in Sanhedrin (97) that just as we are waiting, so Hakadosh Baruch Hu is waiting to redeem us, as the verse says, “Therefore Hashem will wait to show you favor…” So if we are waiting, and so is He, why has Moshiach not yet come? To make the reward even greater – this is why Hashem has not hastened the end.

However, this was all true when the transmission of the tradition of our religion and the roots of faith were strong, and there was no weakness in the fulfillment of the Torah and mitzvos in regards to faith. But in our times, so many people have abandoned the Torah path, our holy religion is desecrated with false ideas conveyed by the media that penetrates into the depths of the nation, and the flame of pure faith threatens to be extinguished in the hearts of the youth of Israel. Many have begun to refuse to accept the traditions of their parents, believing they are wiser than all the previous generations. Furthermore, the wise ones and holy people of previous times who sacrificed their lives to keep every detailed law – their honor is meaningless to them. They even have the gall to speak against the holy sages of the Mishna and Gemara, who in reality were like heavenly angels. Woe unto us that we have witnessed this in our times, the very fulfillment of our sages prophecy that “[in the steps leading to Moshiach,] brazenness will abound.”

As a result of this attitude, parents do not have the ability to faithfully convey our tradition of love of Torah and mitzvos to their children. That being the case, there is no longer a positive aspect to the exile being lengthened, seeing as the tradition is being cut off, heaven forbid (and furthermore, we find the opposite, that children have a negative impact on their parents). Therefore Hashem must bring the redemption speedily, to open the eyes of the spiritually blind to again see with the light of Truth, for heaven forbid, Hashem will not leave his children to be pushed away, as the verse says, “Not one will be pushed away.” For they are his children, the ones He took and has carried since days of yore, as the verse says, “And even this, when they are in the land of their enemies (meaning, that Hashem exiled Israel so they would better their ways when they are oppressed, and continue to do this even there, nevertheless,) I did not reject them nor find them disgusting, nor bring an end to them, nor annul my covenant with them.” Our sages explained, “I did not reject them” refers to the days of the Chaldeans when I gave them Daniel, Chananiah, Misha’el and Azaryah. “Or find them disgusting” refers to the time of the Greeks, when I gave them Shimon Hatzadik and the Chasmonaim and sons. “Nor bring an end to them” refers to the days of Haman when I gave them Mordechai and Esther. “Nor annul my covenant with them” refers to the days of the Persians when I gave them those of the house of Rebbe, “For I am their God.”

We thus find that the two types of people that will be in the end of times will both take part in bringing the redemption. The first group through its good deeds and the difficulties they endure, and the second group, through its bad deeds. Obviously, it is better to be part of the first group, to be among those doing good, and not among those doing bad. All this is hinted to in the Torah in Parshas Ha’azinu, which is also referring to the times of redemption (as our sages explained in Sanhedrin 97), as it says in the verse, “For Hashem will judge his people and have mercy on his nation, He will see that they have lost all hope and all seems lost.” This is what it means when it says that “Hashem will judge his people” – he will have mercy in order to redeem them (as Rashi there explains). This is because his servants are in difficulty, and there is fear that “hope is lost” – this means that the people of Israel do not have the power to continue in their exile; “for all seems lost” – this means that those who hold onto their tradition have no more strength to hold on.

In a similar vein, our sages explain in Sanhedrin (ibid), based on this verse, that [Moshiach] ben Dovid will not come until there are many who will inform on others. This refers to the fact that the leaders will have no more power to uphold the tradition. Another explanation – “[Moshiach will not come until] there are very few students.” Rashi explains that this means there will be very few who will return the people to the proper path. Thus we see that there will be those who will be faithful servants of Hashem, however, they will be few, and unable to prevent the rampant loss of faith on the part of their brothers. We find something similar in the verse (Yirmiyah 31) in regards to the time of redemption, “I shall plant the house of Israel, seeds of man and seeds of beast.” And it is written in the Gemara (Sotah 22) that “seeds of beast” refers to people are not learned in Tanach, Mishna and Gemara. Again, we see that there will be two types of people, as we said, and both types will aid in advancing the redemption.

What we see here is that the state of the Jewish people in our times gives us every reason to hope, even moreso, for the revelation of the honor of Hashem in the world. This is the simple understanding of the verse, “I swear, so says Hashem, the world will be filled with the honor of Hashem.” Therefore, every Jew needs to take heart and think deeply into what will happen when Moshiach will arrive – who will be respected and who will be deeply satisfied? Only one who has clung tightly to Hashem, despite the difficulties of the times. If despite the poverty and constant challenges, Jews remained faithful to Hashem and his Torah, the light of Hashem will shine brightly upon their faces, each one according to his level in knowledge of Torah and fulfillment of Mitzvos. This is what we find
in Tanna D’bei Eliyahu (1), “What is the measure of the light of the Torah scholar and the righteous in the times of [Moshiach] ben Dovid and the world to come?” There it mentions a number of levels. There are those whose faces shine like the small stars, and those whose shine will be like the larger stars (as the verse says, “Those who act on behalf of the public are like stars forever”), while others shine with light like the moon at the beginning of the month, others like the tenth of the month, and others like the full moon. Still others’ faces will shine like the sun in the early morning, and others like the sun at the third hour of the day… still others’ faces will shine like the sun at midday. All of this is hinted to in the verse, “And his beloved ones are like the sun coming out in its strength.”

A similar idea is stated there in chapter 5 as well, “The righteous will have honor and strength in this world and the next. How is this? Hakadosh baruch hu sits in His study hall, and the righteous of all generations sit in front of Him. Each one is given light upon his face according to the measure of Torah that is within him.”

Also, be aware that according to the previous explanation, at the end of the exile there will be many incorrect ideas, and there will be those who will be separated from Torah and mitzvos. Therefore, those who strengthen themselves at that time to go in the paths of Hashem and to learn His Torah and fulfill His commandments will be referred to as Righteous ones. This is what the verse refers to when it says, “And your nation – all are righteous” – this refers to those who remain steadfast to Hashem and are not seduced by the sinners (this is what is written in the book Avakas Rochel by the student of the Rosh z’l).

Therefore, every person must now strengthen himself in his knowledge of Torah and fulfillment of mitzvos, because once Moshiach arrives, it will be called the ‘years that have no desire.’ As the verse says, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of evil come; and then will come years that you will say, ‘I have no desire in them.'” Our sages said that this refers to the times of Moshiach that have neither merit nor demerit, because the Evil Inclination will then be annulled.

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