This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Re'eh (5760)
Imagine turning on the T.V. and seeing someone split the Atlantic Ocean on CNN. A month later all the papers are plastered with the same person’s picture under the headline “Miracle-man finds cure for all diseases”. But a week later he issues a public statement declaring that G-d no longer wants Jews to put on Tefillin.
Would you trust this man?
The answer is to be found in this week’s Torah section.
Such a person is called a false prophet and our Parsha tells us that it is necessary not only to ignore him, but actually to take him to court and have him killed!
Sound strange? Well here is something even stranger:
We know that G-d creates everything constantly; the entire universe and everything in it. If so, why would G-d do such a thing as create a false prophet, give him success, give us problems that seemingly only he can solve, and then command us to ignore him?
The Torah itself answers this question (13:4), that G-d is testing you in order to know if you love Him. But this is also not understood. Doesn’t G-d know everything? Certainly He knows if you are serious or not.
Before we understand this I want to ask a related question:
This week’s section begins with a bizarre statement. “Look, I (G-d) put before you a blessing and a curse.” Isn’t G-d completely good? Why would He make curses?
To understand all this here is a beautiful story.
Once there was a great and wise king that loved roosters. He was so inspired by their majestic fierceness, their splendid flashing colors, their every graceful move, that he commissioned hundreds of artists to draw him giant paintings to hang on the wall of his palatial throne room. But to his dismay none of the portraits were to his liking. So he invited greater artists, and then even greater, but he was left unsatisfied.
So he sent invitations to three of the greatest artists in the world along with fine presents and promises of fame and fortune. The artists took up his offer and he made them the following agreement. Each would receive fifty thousand gold pieces in addition to a fine house with servants etc. for one year and at the end of that time the king would pay one million gold pieces for any picture that found favor in his eyes.
The year passed swiftly and the word of the unveiling of the three pictures spread throughout the kingdom. The King built a massive stadium seating several thousand people and in the center of the stage were the three huge canvases each covered with it’s own ornate curtain.
The day arrived; the stadium was packed with thousands of noisy people. But the crowd fell silent as the first artist approached his canvas, hesitated a moment, held the rope that opened the curtain and turned to face the king. The king nodded, and the artist, without even turning around, triumphantly pulled the rope and a hum went out from the crowd. It was truly a masterpiece!
The king rose from his royal seat, walked to the picture, examined it from near and far and announced. “It is truly a work of genius, but …… it is not exactly what I want”.
The crowd was abuzz as the king returned to his seat and motioned for the second artist to approach. The same scene repeated itself; silence, tension, the victorious pull of the cord. In fact this time when the painting was uncovered, shouts of ‘Bravo!’ were heard. But the king, although he admitted that the picture was exquisite, still was not satisfied.
Finally the third artist approached and stood by his picture and again the king nodded. But the artist, before he pulled the cord, made a request. “Your Majesty I humbly request that you make no judgment of my work until fifteen minutes after it is unveiled.” An unusual request, but the king nodded in agreement, the artist pulled the rope and revealed ……The crowd gasped …..
an EMPTY CANVAS!!!
“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS!!!? shouted the king, but remembering his promise he fell silent. The artist meanwhile, had paid no attention to the King’s outburst. He wasconcentrating on the empty canvas before him, palate in one hand and brush in the other and suddenly he began to paint.
The colors flowed from his very being, the lines danced and shouted praises, changing like fire, like a rushing river, like a field of wheat, like the eyes of a child, of a king.
And then after ten minutes …. the picture was finished and he turned to face the king.
Everyone was silent you could hear only the wind; everyone was frozen as though hypnotized.
Then someone broke the spell and began clapping, then another then another until finally the crowd was like thunder, on their feet whistling, clapping and shouting ‘Bravo! BRAVO!!!!” The king rose from his seat with open arms, walked to the artist and embraced him with tears in his eyes; “THIS, this is what I was waiting for!!” Even the other artists had raised his arms in victory and were weeping with emotion.
The King motioned to the crowd to be silent once more, “How did you do it? The picture is miraculous! But how could you have been so sure of yourself?”
The artist cleared his throat and answered, “In order to answer that question I want to invite the king to my home” Again a gasp went up from the crowd but the king readily agreed and within minutes they were standing before the artist’s house “Please, your Majesty, please enter,” He said.
The king opened the door and immediately noticed tens of pictures of roosters. He slowly entered, turning his gaze in every direction and slowly he realized that the entire house was filled with pictures of roosters!!
Literally thousands of pictures of roosters surrounded him!
“Allow me to explain” said the artist, “I knew that the other artists would go home and draw excellent portraits, but I felt that the king was looking for something real, something alive, and that could only be done live.
But I was afraid, perhaps I wouldn’t be in the right mood, perhaps there would be distractions, perhaps I wouldn’t be deeply inspired or capture the moment. So I practiced every day for hours, so that roosters would not just be on my mind, or in my heart, but even in my bones. Until I was sure that nothing could distract me from pleasing the king.”
This is the answer to our above questions.
The entire purpose of the Torah is to bring Moshiach.
Only Moshiach will (build the Third Temple and) cause G-d’s real Oneness to be revealed on earth even more than it is even in the highest heavens. That is what The King (HaShem) really wants.
But, (as the Lubavitch Rebbe said countless times) it all depends on us. First we must learn as much as possible about the Moshiach and the Oneness of G-d that will be revealed.
But that is not enough. Like our artist friend, we must practice constantly, every spare moment so that the desire for Moshiach be not just in our minds, but in our hearts and even in our very bones. Then, when he arrives we will be ready.
[The Hebrew word for ‘practice’ (emunim) is from the same root as the word for ‘believing’ (emuna), and one of the 13 basic Jewish beliefs is to practice desiring Moshiach ].
Now we can understand what it means that G-d sends us false prophets in order ‘to know’; not that G-d should know, but rather in order that WE should ‘know’ i.e. come to a deeper ‘knowledge’ and longing for the truth. Similarly G-d even creates what seem like curses for the same purpose; that we go deeper into our own souls and really desire the unveiling of the ‘big picture’. (Then even the holocaust and all the other ‘curses’ will make sense).
Then we will see that all the Jewish people were really artists all along, bringing true pleasure to the King. Only then, all these terrible 2000 ears of waiting will be transformed into a blessing. Moshiach NOW!
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