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לימוד תורה

The 'now' that comes at the expense of the future

Parsha and its realization - Parshat Mishpatim – Rosh Chodesh Adar Alef - and the war of the 'Iron Swords' 5784

Rabbi Eliezer Haim Shenvald

Dedicated to the IDF soldiers' success, to safeguard them lest any harm come to them, to the healing of all the wounded and the return of the abducted.

Returning those who have been kidnapped to their homes is a great Mitzvah and also a supreme national duty. Our heart is full of concern for them. They are being held hostages by diabolical monsters, heartless abusers, and every day that passes by has indescribable suffering. Some of them suffer from health problems that may endanger their lives. We take their families into our hearts and pray every day for their release and safety.

The State of Israel has been mobilized for their return since the first day of the war. The best minds are engaged in collecting the information, looking for ways to get them back, and acting to mobilize the international leadership to exert pressure to release them. The IDF forces in the field are doing everything in their power to locate them, and conduct the already complex combat in a way that prevents them from harming them. In combat above and below the surface of the ground.

Our bitter enemy, lacking humanity, brutally kidnapped them on Shabbat Simchat Torah, as part of their strategic plan. The kidnappings are a strategic 'weapon' that they have been using for decades. They know us, our morality, our sensitivity to human life, and our national solidarity. For them it is not an advantage but a weak point, a 'weakness' that can be exploited to put us in a monstrous dilemma. As a bargaining chip, and as an 'insurance certificate' that will prevent us from winning the war, exacting a heavy price from them for the monstrous massacre they committed, and returning the deterrence.

The common supreme goal of our enemies who surround us, near and far, is our destruction:

אָמְר֗וּ לְ֭כוּ וְנַכְחִידֵ֣ם מִגּ֑וֹי וְלֹֽא יִזָּכֵ֖ר שֵֽׁם יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל עֽוֹד׃

"They say, “Let us wipe them out as a nation; Israel’s name will be mentioned no more.” (Psalms 83:5)

Accordingly, they are now managing the 'negotiations' with great sophistication while conducting a nerve-racking psychological war. Their main demand for the return of the abductees "now" is conditional on a complete cessation of the war, a withdrawal from Gaza, and the release of all the terrorists who massacred, raped and burned. Our surrendering will allow them to declare victory. Their dream is to recreate 'Saladin's victory' who defeated the Crusaders in the 12th century. They will not agree to any less. Anyone who even thinks about other options of 'negotiations' underestimates them, (a disdain that was probably one of the reasons for the Simchat Torah tragedy) and deceives himself.

This is a 'price' we must not pay! Even if it helps bring back some of the abductees "now", it will endanger many others like them in the future. From our past experience we learned that surrendering to their terms and conditions encouraged more kidnappings in all parts of the country and the world. The terrorists released in these 'deals' murdered hundreds more. Our surrender to Hamas will be proof of our weakness and will strengthen the motivation of the rest of our enemies to try to destroy us. We must do everything possible to prevent this and to instill in them the consciousness that any such attempt in the future will cost them a painful price.

These days we are completing the conquest of Khan Yunis; with fiercely heroic fighting of our soldiers, above ground and 'under'. At the same time, the Minister of Defense has already announced that the IDF is preparing for the occupation of Rafah. The rope is getting tighter around their leaders’ necks. This is probably also the only sure guarantee for the return of the abductees home, even if it will take some time and will not happen "now" and immediately.

At the end of Parashat Mishpatim, the Torah deals with the war to conquest the land:

הִנֵּ֨ה אָנֹכִ֜י שֹׁלֵ֤חַ מַלְאָךְ֙ לְפָנֶ֔יךָ לִשְׁמׇרְךָ֖ בַּדָּ֑רֶךְ וְלַהֲבִ֣יאֲךָ֔ אֶל הַמָּק֖וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֲכִנֹֽתִי׃

"I am sending a messenger before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready". (Shmot 23:20)

Even then it was clear that the war on the land would be graded and prolonged. It will not be completed "now", all at once:

לֹ֧א אֲגָרְשֶׁ֛נּוּ מִפָּנֶ֖יךָ בְּשָׁנָ֣ה אֶחָ֑ת ... מְעַ֥ט מְעַ֛ט אֲגָרְשֶׁ֖נּוּ מִפָּנֶ֑יךָ עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּפְרֶ֔ה וְנָחַלְתָּ֖ אֶת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

"I will not drive them out before you in a single year… I will drive them out before you little by little, until you have increased and possess the land". (Ibid 29-30)

According to the Zohar, this is a fundamental principle. Many things cannot be achieved immediately here and now, but rather as a gradual process, and patience pays off:

בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יָקִים אוֹתָם וְיוֹצִיאֵם מִן הַגָּלוּת, אָז יִפְתַּח לָהֶם פֶּתַח שֶׁל אוֹר [שהוא] דַּקִּיק קָטָן, וְאַחַר כָּךְ פֶּתַח אַחֵר שֶׁהוּא גָדוֹל מִמֶּנּוּ, עַד שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יִפְתַּח לָהֶם שְׁעָרִים עֶלְיוֹנִים פְּתוּחִים לְאַרְבַּע רוּחוֹת הָעוֹלָם. וכו'. וְכֵן כָּל מַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וְלַצַּדִּיקִים שֶׁבָּהֶם, כָּךְ כֻּלָּם וְלֹא בִּזְמַן אֶחָד. וכו'. כָּךָ הֵם יִשְׂרָאֵל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כג) מְעַט מְעַט אֲגָרֲשֶׁנּוּ מִפָּנֶיךְ עַד אֲשֶׁר תִּפְרֶה וְגוֹ'. וְכֵן לְמִי שֶׁהוּא בָּא לְהֵרָפֵא, אֵינוֹ בְּשָׁעָה אַחַת, אֶלָּא מְעַט מְעַט עַד שֶׁיִּתְחַזֵּק. וכו'"

"When the time comes for the Holy One, blessed be He, to raise them up and bring them out of exile, so will a small window of light open for them, and after that another opening a bit bigger, until the Holy One, blessed be He, will open for them the heavens to the four winds of the world, etc... All that the Holy One did for Israel and the righteous among them, was not all at the same time… This is how Israel is, as it is said (Shmot 23) 'I will drive them out before you little by little, until you have increased and possess the land.'. The same is true for those who need healing, it does not happen in one moment but little by little until he gets stronger. etc." (Zohar Part I 170a)

The Jerusalem Talmud tells the story about Tannaim walking in the valley of Arbela before morning and seeing “the morning hind” that started radiating over the Golan Mountains. They saw this as a sign of the gradual redemption:

כַּךְ הִיא גְאֻלָּתָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּתְּחִילָּה קִמְאָה קִמְאָה כָּל מָה שֶׁהִיא הוֹלֶכֶת הִיא רָבָה וְהוֹלֶכֶת...

"so will be the deliverance of Israel; it starts out very little and grows and longer as it goes on". (Jerusalem Talmud Berachot 1a)

The process of redemption in the days of Mordechai and Esther was also gradual and not all at once:

כֵּן בַּתְּחִילָּה וּמָרְדְּכַי יֹשֵׁב בְּשַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ. וְאַחַר כַּךְ וַיִּקַּח הָמָן אֶת הַלְּבוּשׁ וְאֶת הַסּוּס. וְאַחַר כַּךְ וַיָּשָׁב מָרְדְּכַי אֶל שַׁעַר הַמֶּלֶךְ. וְאַחַר כַּךְ וּמָרְדְּכַי יָצָא מִלִּפְנֵוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ בִּלְבוּשׁ מַלְכוּת. וְאַחַר כַּךְ לַיְּהוּדִים הָיִתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה.

"So also at the start (Esther 2:21): “Mordechai was sitting at the king’s gate.” After that (6:11): “Haman took the garment and the horse.” After that (6:12): “Mordechai returned to the king’s gate.” After that (8:15): “Mordechai left the king’s presence in royal garb.” After that (8:16): “The Jews had light and joy.” (Ibid)

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