I present the third installment of the book צפית לישועה, Longing for Redemption. The Chofetz Chaim was the master of the mashal, and here you will find a very beautiful one helping us to understand how it is that the Galus is so long, and yet, “He will come without delay.” I hope you enjoy.
Tzipisa Le’yeshua – Chapter 2
It is well known that anyone who does not believe in the coming of Moshiach is plagued with a sin that is too great to bear, because he lacks one of the thirteen fundamental beliefs of Judaism. Similarly, one who does not wait for Moshiach’s arrival, for whatever reason despairing of ever seeing his times, is a ‘close cousin’ of the first sinner, and is considered a denier of the Torah. The Rambam says as follows (Hilchos Melachim 11), “Moshiach, the king, will arise in the future, and return the house of David to its former glory and power. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. All of the laws will return in his day as in previous times. Sacrifices will be brought, and the Shemitah and Yovel laws will be fulfilled as is detailed in the Torah. Whoever does not believe in him or does not wait for his arrival (meaning that he has despaired of Moshiach ever coming, for whatever reason), not only does he show contempt for all the other prophets, but in fact, he shows contempt for the Torah itself, and for Moshe Rabbenu. The Torah explicitly testifies about it, ‘And Hashem your God will return your captivity and have mercy on you and return to gather you… If your dispersed will be at the edge of the Earth, from there He will gather you… and Hashem your God will bring you to the land…'”
Truthfully, we need to contemplate on times past in order to understand what will be in the future. When we left Egypt, Hashem promised us a number of good things. It thus says in Yehoshua (23), “And Yehoshua called out to all of Israel and said to them… you will know with all of your heart and soul that, of all the good Hashem promised to you, you received it all, without exception.” Based on this, we can contemplate, even now, how certainly Hashem will fulfill the promises He made in the sections of the Torah which speak of redemption. It says, “Supple plants will dry out, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Besides for the promises He said explicitly in the Torah, His promises about the future redemption were repeated through all His servants, the prophets – Yeshaya, Yirmiya, Yechezkel and in Trei-Asar. Each one contains prophecies about the future redemption, as well as the exalted level the people of Israel will enjoy at that time. All of them will attain the level of prophecy, as it says (Yoel 3), “And afterwards I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters will prophesy…” They furthermore write of all the honor that the people of Israel will receive from all the people of the world, as it says, “And they will bring an offering to Hashem, with all your brothers from the nations… as the children of Israel bring the offering in a pure vessel.” And it says, “Your sons and daughters will be brought, carried on their shoulders.” The verse encapsulated it by saying, “No eye has seen, but yours, God, that which will be done for those who wait for it.”
The concept of the delay of the redemption was already hinted to us by Hashem Himself through the prophet Hoshea (3), “For many days the children of Israel sat and requested [the return of] Hashem their God, and their king David, and [they expressed] their fear to Hashem and [they awaited] the good of the end of days.” Furthermore, it says, “If he tarries, wait for him.” The explanation of this is that if a person would think that, heaven forbid, He has broken his promise with the people of Israel, it is not really true. Rather, “wait for him” – meaning, like someone waiting for an event he knows will certainly occur, as the verse says, “Supple plants will dry out, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
And the verse finishes off, “He will certainly come with no delay.” [This would seem to be a contradiction, as we just stated that “if he will tarry, wait for him.”] This can be explained with a story. There was once a king who was angry with his son, and decreed that he would have to leave the palace for five years. The son was sent to a faraway land at the edge of the world that required years of travel to reach [as it was before the advent of modern modes of transportation]. Afterwards, the king regretted his decision, however he could not annul the decree. He pondered what could be done, and realized that even once the five years were up, it would still take a few years for the son to travel back home. The king therefore commanded that all the mountains standing in the path be razed, and that all the new means of transportation in the world be used to bring him back to the palace quickly. This way the prince’s trip home would proceed without any unnecessary delay.
So it is with us. We have been spread out to the farthest reaches of the Earth, and every Jew will need to return from exile, as it says, “Each and every one of you will be gathered, children of Israel.” Therefore, the gathering of the entire Jewish people should naturally take many years. But the truth is that it will not be that way. Hashem has made all the preparations in advance so the ingathering will not take longer than necessary.
This is what it means, “If he tarries, wait for him.” If you would then think that the actual ingathering will take a long time, [especially now that he has taken so long to come] – the verse therefore says, “He will certainly come without delay.” This means that when the designated time arrives, there will be no delay whatsoever at that point. This is what the verse refers to when it says, “Who are these that fly like a cloud?” This means that the ingathering will take place at a rapid pace, like a cloud moves quickly across the sky.
The very fact that the redemption is delayed has a straightforward explanation. The verse says [in reference to the Jewish people’s return from the exile of Egypt] that “the fourth generation will return here, because until then, the sin of the Emori will not be complete.” In that context, there were only seven nations, and nevertheless, it was necessary to wait several hundred years until their sins deemed them unworthy before the promise to Avraham could be fulfilled. In our times, the entire world needs to be purified, and all the nations need to come under the domain of Hakadosh Baruch Hu and His king Moshiach. This is stated in the verse in Daniel (7), “And to he will be given dominion, honor, and rulership.” Therefore, it must take a substantial amount of time. Furthermore, the original redemption [from Egypt] only lasted for a limited amount of time, as it says in the holy works [of kabbalah], but the final redemption will be the end of all exile, with none to follow it. Therefore, all the rectifications must be completed for the blemishes in the people of Israel from the time they became a nation. The length of the exile serves to rectify all of this, and the exile acts as a great purifier, separating the evil from the good. This is what we find at the end of Daniel, “Great separations and purifications will occur…” This requires a lengthy amount of time.
Heaven forbid should we despair as a result of Moshiach’s lateness, and specifically since the prophet told us about it from the beginning that “even if he tarries, wait for him, for he will certainly come…” Not one word of Hashem will be left unfulfilled, heaven forbid, as we say in the blessings after the Haftarah, “And not one of your words will be left unfulfilled.” This concept should especially not be despaired of, as it is not only mentioned once, but it is mentioned numerous times in the many different prophets, as well as the many statements from the sages of the Gemara. It is a main foundation of the beliefs of the people of Israel, as we say in the first blessing [of the Amidah], “A
nd He brings a redeemer to the sons of their sons.” It is further incumbent upon us not to despair, especially in our times where the state of the people of Israel has reached an all-time low, both physically and spiritually. This is as the verse states, “Our soul has been brought down to the dust,” which is reference to the soul of the people of Israel, as is clearly the state of the youth of our nation, “Our stomach has clung to the ground,” which is reference to the lowly physical state of the Jewish people. Certainly we need to stand ready, waiting for salvation, in the language of the aforementioned verse, “Wait for him.” This means we need to stand ready, as one would wait for a guest who is on his way. Who knows, perhaps he is already just around the corner.
Praiseworthy is the one who does not despair of waiting for the redemption, but gives heart for himself and his children to learn much Torah and perform many mitzvos, so that he not be embarrassed at that time. Only in the current state of the world, which is compared to night, do we find that all is concealed, and one can not see the advantage of the righteous one over the evil one. In the times of Moshiach, however, everything will be clear. This concept is found in the targum of Koheles on the verse, “In the end, all is heard.” He translates this to mean that all that is done in the world will eventually be publicized. Each person will be honored according to the Torah and mitzvos that he has attained. This is underscored by the verse which refers to that time, “And you will return and you will see the distinction between one who served God and one who did not.”