This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Shemot (5767)
This week's Torah portion begins the story of how G-d, the creator of the universe, personally and miraculously brought millions of people; the entire Jewish nation, to physical and spiritual freedom and eventually gave them His Torah.
This story is the foundation of Judaism, the first two of the Ten Commandments (I am G-d that took you from Egypt. Don't worship 'other gods'.) and the key to world peace, blessing and prosperity.
G-d Himself cares, is infinitely close, listens to our prayers and will even change the world to help us. (First Commandment)
And therefore it is only to Him we should direct our prayers and lives. Prayer to spirits, people, angels or 'middle-men' (as other religions do) is forbidden! (Second Commandment)
But if so, what place does Moses, and even more important to us, Moshiach play in Judaism?
Why didn't G-d take the Jews out Himself? Why did He 'need' Moses and why will the future redemption be by Moshiach.
According to many the main tenet of Judaism is the belief in Moshiach. (Chafetz Chaim; Tzipita L'y'shua) and it is learned from the first of the Ten Commandments! (Sma'k Mitzva #1)
But isn't this a 'middle-man'? Isn't Judaism supposed to be a direct connection to G-d?
To understand this here is a story (Y'dion HaKfar 21.12.06):
Reb (short for Rabbi) Gedalya was a Chassid of the holy Rebbe Yisroel of Ruzin. The rest of the year he was a businessman struggling to make ends meet, but on the Shabbat and holidays he was a different man; a spiritual millionaire with no worries or cares.
But twice a year; on Chanukah and Shavuot when he would visit the Rebbe it was even higher; literally heaven on earth.
To see the Rebbe of Ruzin was like seeing and feeling G-d in the Holy Temple. It filled him with joy, courage, inspiration and love for the entire year.
But one Chanukah was completely different.
As usual Gedalya loaded his wagon and set off the day before Chanukah but the weather was a bit stormier than usual. The cold winds and deep snow made travel tedious and difficult and by the time he finally reached his first stop; the hotel where he usually spent the night it was well after midnight.
He got a room, lit his candles and went to sleep but the next day the storm was even worse and instead of setting off to the Rebbe early in the morning as every year he was forced to spend yet another day in the hotel.
With a broken heart he went to his room that night, lit two candles in his menorah and watched the small dancing flames with mixed emotions. On one hand he was happy it was Chanukah but on the other he was sad that he was missing the Rebbe and he also had a strange feeling that there was a cosmic reason for his delay.
Suddenly he heard the main door burst open and the sound of screams, shouting, shattering glass and furniture filled the air.
He opened his door a crack and saw that a band of thieves had invaded the place and were robbing the guests and ransacking the hotel - it was only a matter of time till they came to his room.
There was no where for him to run or hide and jumping from his second story window was out of the question. Maybe he could hide under the bed..
But before he could move, his door burst open and a fearsome robber, the leader of the gang, was staring at him with a long knife in his hand and murder in his eyes.
Gedalya's first thought was 'does the Rebbe see this and will he help?'. But suddenly the candles in the menorah caught the robber's eye.
"Oh no!" Gedalya thought to himself "A Jew hater! He's going to kill me for sure!!" He closed his eyes and said the last prayer every Jew should say before death: 'Shma Yisroel Ado...." Suddenly someone shouted:
"Ehh?" he said as he opened his eyes. It was the thief shouting!
"Gedalya Grosman!! Is it you? Is it you? Gedalya! Do you remember me? It's me! Itzik Popper!!"
Gedalya and Itzik had been friends from childhood. They were partners in learning Torah and spent every free moment together. But when they got older and married they each went their separate ways. They corresponded by mail for a few years and then lost contact.
Itzik married into a rich family. His father-in-law owned a large hotel which his wife ran while he sat and learned Torah uninterruptedly. But it was a bit boring for Itzik's ego.
So when it just so happened that a large group of rough looking gentiles came into the hotel, took a table in the corner and began arguing heatedly over some jewels and other valuables, Itzik had to show off his intellectual prowess and mediate.
It wasn't long before they began asking him other advice which he joyously gave and although it took a while, before he knew it he was drawn into their world and eventually became their leader. They were professional thieves.
But now here he was, Itzik Popper, standing face to face with the truth that he had left years ago.
He left the room, ran downstairs ordered the thieves to stop what they were doing, return all the booty and leave the hotel and then returned back to Gedalya.
That whole night they spoke. Itzik tried to explain that he was too far gone while Gedalya assured him that if G-d could take millions of Jews from Egypt He certainly can save one Itzik Popper.
But the thing that really clinched it was the Rebbe. As soon as Gedalya mentioned the Rebbe of Ruzin, Itzik agreed to light Chanukah candles for the first time in years. In fact in the morning he even put on Tefillin.
Needless to say he agreed to see the Rebbe and when they met face to face Itzik became transformed into a different person.
This is the answer to our question.
The essence of creation is man.
This is the message of the Torah and this is the main message of Judaism: every individual is important and can change the entire world (especially every Jew: That is why we are called the Chosen People.) But we need a Rebbe to reveal this.
We can see this from the effect the Rebbe of Ruzin had on his Chassidim and even on the 'lost soul' Itzik in our story.
This is Moses and Moshiach.
Moses took the Jews out of Egypt and Moshiach will take 'Egypt' out of each and every Jew.
'Egypt' means enslavement to the world; to creation.
While Moses and ultimately Moshiach means that we are servants only the Creator and His Torah!!
That is why Moshiach is so important; even essential, to Judaism. Because the goal of Judaism is to transform the entire world to serve the Creator (as we say thrice daily in the 'Alenu' prayer) and only Moshiach can inspire us to do it.
Just as without Moses the Jews would not have even desired to leave Egypt. (As soon as they thought Moses was gone they worshiped the Golden Calf!) so without Moshiach the Jews have no desire to leave the exile.
In our generation the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his teachings point the way to Moshiach more than ever before and there is no excuse for not learning and understanding his teachings (see your local Chabad House).
In fact the Rebbe declared on several occasions;
"Ours is the generation of Moshiach, the generation of redemption and Moshiach is already here. All we have to do is 'open our eyes' learn the teachings of the Rebbe and do all we can to reveal....
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