We are currently in the middle of “The Seven Weeks of Comfort,” the period after Tish’ah B’Av where we focus on how to rise from the ashes and rebuild our lives. The talk of death, destruction, and tragedy is over, and we have turned our attention to t’shuvah, t’filah, and tz’dakah. However, as we enter the world of Elul, allow me to make one final point about the period we just concluded. If all you did during the last two months was say kinos, and not shave or listen to music, you missed the point!
There are – literally – thousands of shiurim on The Three Weeks and The Nine Days,” and I watched/listened to many of them. I heard about turning galus (exile) into g’ulah (redemption) by changing our mindset. I saw videos on chesed, guarding our speech, and strengthening our emunah. The problem with these shiurim was that, while they are all important – and are in areas in which we must improve – they have absolutely nothing to do with the difficult time period we just concluded.
Let me write the next few words very clearly, so there’s no misunderstanding. The mourning required during Tamuz and Av was because of the exile. That exile, experienced by the Jewish nation over 2,000 years ago was physical – not spiritual. Therefore, the redemption must be physical, as well. Stopping lashon ha’ra is vital, and so is performing more chesed; but that will not change anything as long as we do these things in the United States, England, Canada, or Australia. Focusing on simply “changing our mindset to g’ulah” as one rabbi taught, or by improving our “ahavas Yisrael” as another rabbi taught, is a must – no question! – but, with all due respect, that is not what will rebuild the Third and final Beis HaMikdash.
Do you know what will rebuild it? When the majority of worldwide Jewry lives in Eretz Yisrael. As stated previously, the punishment 2,000 years ago was physical exile, so the “tikun” (rectification) will be the physical return to the Land! It is true that once there, it will be necessary for the Jews to keep Torah and mitzvos and work on the spiritual side as well; but right now – at this exact moment in time – the job of Jews living outside is to do whatever it takes to start living inside!
Think about it. How many divrei Torah did you hear during these days about moving to Eretz Yisrael? I assure you that every single shiur was about important Torah concepts, and I don’t understate their worth. We need to work on Jewish unity, honesty in business dealings, giving people the benefit of the doubt, caring for the elderly, and so on. Yet, if that is all you did, you missed the point.
Imagine a king who banished his misbehaving son. Years later, the king finds out that the son is no longer a troublemaker. The young man has straightened himself out, graduated law school, is married with three kids, and recently became president of the shul! He teaches Daf Yomi, is a member of Hatzalah and financially supports the local soup-kitchen. The king is ecstatic! “Baruch Hashem, my son has become a real mentch!” His joy is endless, and he is so excited – until he finds out that the young man has no desire to return to the palace. What good are all those improvements if he does not want to return to the king? The king exiled him to teach him a lesson – not to make him forget the kingdom! Yes, the king loves the fact that his son is keeping mitzvos, teaching Torah, and doing acts of chesed, but he wants those things done here – in the kingdom – not in a far-away land!
Dearest friends: Elul is here but – please – take one last look at the months we just left and learn the real lesson from them: the lesson of turning physical exile in physical redemption. Baruch Hashem, Tish’ah B’Av is over and we are off the floor. It’s time now to start the g’ulah and get on the plane.
Am Yisrael Chai!