"This Opportunity, So Ripe For Redemption, Will Be Wasted"
Thanks to my good friends Dixie Yid and Chabakuk Elisha, I present below the English translation of a letter written by Sudilkover Rebbe to a professor during the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron in 2005:
Over time, one is likely to forget the fundamental point for which we must pray. For this reason, I have put pen to paper.
To my dear friend who does much good, Prof. ___,
As an answer to your question...
There have been many occasions in our history that have had a great impact on the future of the Jewish people, which could have been the proper time for the redemption or hastened its arrival.
In my humble opinion, with what has been happening and with what is taking place recent weeks (the upcoming expulsion of the Jews in Gush Katif) we are truly at a time when one can "smell it in the air" that this is an opportunity to achieve the true redemption from all exiles and not only the exile of Sharon.
I suspect that if we only daven for the suffering in Gush Katif and North Shomron – and not about the overarching hard and bitter exile in which we have found ourselves spiritually and physically for 2000 years – that this opportunity, so ripe for redemption, will be wasted. In my opinion, this is a signal to us, a smack from our Father who is saying, "Don't focus on rod. Rather, embrace the One who holds it."
The heart and the mind are inclined to say that it is not for naught that these things are happening specifically during Yemey Bein HaMeitzorim (The Three Weeks). It is not for naught that these events are literally happening during the days of destruction. And not on any day, but on Tisha B'Av – the very day that Moshiach is born.
Tzaddikim brought hints that in 5708 (1947-1948) we could have merited the redemption. Our hopes and the anticipation for November 29th and the prayers for the expulsion of the British mandate brought us the slap in the face from “Sdei Boker's” ruthlessly antireligious government. If only we had prayed harder then, maybe we would have already been redeemed...
The author of the "Sifsei Kohain," known as the "Shach," writes that this was the case in the year 5408 (1648) – that this was an opportunity for redemption, as the numerical equivalent (gematria) of "B'zos," (בזאת) as is hinted at in the pasuk "With this ("B'zos/1648") Aharon will come into the Temple." But, alas, that appointed time was exchanged with the massacres of Khmelnitsky, may his name be blotted out.
The same thing (potential dates of redemption that were exchanged for suffering) happened at other appointed times as we find in seforim:
5674 (1914): Which was exchanged for the First World War (which, incidentally, also began on Tisha B'Av).
5677 (1917): The Balfour Declaration befell us, in place of the true redemption.
5727 (1967): We exchanged our Beis HaMikdash for recapturing the Kosel. There too, I believe that if we had davened for the coming of Moshiach, and not just for a salvation of the Straits of Tiran, who knows if I would be writing these words right now.
But what happened, happened! I am not a mekubal and G-d forbid that I should engage in calculating the end of times – which is halachically problematic – but it seems to me that we find ourselves now in middle of the same film, just a newer version.
(Parenthetically, I would say that that the hint to the year 5760 , one of the appointed times of the redemption, is brought in the seforim as "in the proximity of the year 5760," which still leaves us somewhat close...)
The truth is that according to Jewish law we are required to wait every single day for the coming of Moshiach – but, indeed there are times which are especially apropos for this!
To the extent that the generation has demanded it, things have gotten better in the exile; from 5708 (1948) until today many things have improved. Communism collapsed. Many people now see through the facade and question the holiness of Zionism. Many sacred cows have been slaughtered. Axioms have been broken. Thoughts are beginning to change. We cannot afford to waste this opportunity.
We must pray now for the coming of Moshiach to save us from the purification process – the cleansing from G-d, and from ourselves – just Moshiach, Moshiach, Moshiach. May the Ribbono shel Olam redeem us! See how confused we are. The blind are governing us. We know that we must "choose life" but we no longer know how or what. The yetzer hara and the Exile are drowning us. The curse of "And you shall be bewildered" (Devarim 28:34) has been fulfilled, and we cannot go on like this. Father in Heaven, don't leave us like this – please redeem us!
After the Holocaust, you still had a few strong believing Jews left. Now, we are all wearing a facade. We are weak, tired and spineless. We can be redeemed or we can be destroyed – what do You prefer precious Father in Heaven?! Redeem us from this terrifying Exile – this exile of the mind and intellect. Nothing is deep. Everything is superficial.
Redeem us Father – it’s enough!
Our tefillos are not real. Our Torah study is not real. Everything is fake. Master of the world, what was it that Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, zt"l, said before You: "Redeem the Jewish People as Jews before You have to redeem them as Gentiles" – How long can we hold on? We are lacking all endurance. Please send the son of David already and redeem us – Amen.
Prof. ___, forgive me while I cry as I type, cry and pray. I am not thinking at all, merely pressing keys in the throes of pain. And the tears mix with the letters.
These words are not directed at you, but at the Creator of the world – Our Father. I considered removing this spontaneous tefillah, and not send this whole outpouring to all of you, but in the end I said, "Why not?!" If a precious Jew like you, who I do not usually agree with ideologically but whose value I recognize, awakened me to cry like a small child to my Father in Heaven, you deserve a portion [in the fruits of the product that his inspiration produced].
As a related point:
With regard to your question about the prayer for the residents of Gush Katif: I received the copy of the prayer that you sent me. I was dismayed to see that there was not even the slightest reference to a prayer for the general Geulah and the coming of Moshiach. It appears to me, in my humble and low opinion, that the evil inclination is confusing us in a terrible way not to recognize the great potential of the moment – we should pray for the bartender, not just for a drink. (...)
The following does not relate to what I have said so far:
In relation to... I have thought about the matter and I will talk to you again, Bli Neder, with G-d's help, after the Nine Days, if G-d forbid, Moshiach does not come – and if not, hopefully the redemption of the Jewish People will come soon, and you will not require my advice.
I hope that... and we will soon merit to hear good news with regards to the specifics and to the general matters, and we will reach the prophesied time "like the wondrous days of the redemption from Egypt" may it come speedily in our days.
HaRav Aryeh Wohl
P.S. After signing, I remembered the amazing explanation of Rav Chaim Volozhiner, zt"l, the student of the Vilna Gaon in his sefer "Nefesh Hachaim," regarding the verse in Shir Hashirim regarding the Jewish People (Shir Hashirim 1:9): "I have compared you, my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots."
The meaning of this is basically: While usually a rider drives his horses, at the splitting of the Red Sea, the horses miraculously lead their riders. So too, G-d runs the world, but to the Jewish People Hakadosh Baruch Hu says, "You are, in My eyes, like the Egyptian horses, who lead their masters. You also 'direct' Me with your prayers and with your good deeds. If you drive well with your tefilos and with your mitzvos you will make your will into My will."
It is interesting that even Rashi explains the verse as a comparison to prayer: “When Pharaoh and the Egyptians came to you with horses, I revealed Myself to destroy them in order to silence your cries and wailings to Me.”
Our only answer is tefillah. And tefillah for the complete and true redemption by Moshiach Tzidkeinu.