This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Shoftim (5764)
This week's section contains one of the clearest proofs that Moshiach is an essential of Judaism.
"When G-d expands your boundaries as He swore....And gives all the land He promised to the Forefathers....you should add three cities to these three."
This is referring to the three "Cities of Refuge" that G-d WILL add, through Moshiach, to the six already spoken of (Numbers 35:14 and Deut. 4:41) bringing the number to nine.
In fact, Maimonides when he speaks of the Laws of Moshiach (Laws of Kings
11:1) brings this as his third and decisive Torah source that Moshiach will come.
But this is not so clear.
Moshiach is supposed to be a religious figure that will bring massive spiritual changes to the world. Why will he do such a mundane thing as adding three cities to the land of Israel?
Why doesn't the Jewish Moshiach just do what the gentiles claim he's supposed to do; get everyone into heaven?
Not only that, these cites are refuge for people who killed others unintentionally. Will there be such a thing in the days of Moshiach? Will we really need three MORE?
To answer this here is a story:
Once there were two young Torah scholars that married into rich families living in the same town.
The custom of the time was that Torah scholars would not work but rather would sit and learn Torah all day and be supported totally by their fathers-in-law. This was usually a source of great pride and satisfaction for all involved; especially when the son-in-law became recognized and respected.
But in this case it didn't work out so well. One of the young men, we will call him Moshe, was a good-natured and friendly fellow who was admired and respected, while the other, Shmerl, was arrogant and aloof and no one could stand him.
Unfortunately Shmerl's father-in-law, instead of figuring ways to try to correct his son-in-law's bad character traits, became intensely jealous of
Moshe and his father-in-law. And the jealousy turned to hatred.
He found tens of faults in Moshe, Hundreds!! Every time he saw him he saw more. But he had to fake a smile and keep it to himself. Moshe was simply too popular...
Until one day.
Moshe was sitting in the back of an empty Shul (Synagogue) silently delving into a deep section some Talmud Tractate, as he did every day, when suddenly he was interrupted by the sound of a man weeping.
He looked up and saw that an elderly Jew who must have silently entered without him noticing, was standing in front of the Shul weeping to G-d.
Moshe listened. The man was saying that he hoped G-d would forgive him but if he didn't get the money he needed he was thinking of killing himself! He simply couldn't stand the shame.
When Moshe heard this, his entire body shook. he couldn't believe his ears!!
He waited for the man to finish and approached him. As he got closer he recognized him; it was a simple fellow that he often said hello to on the street. He put his hands on the weeping man's shoulders and asked him warmly what the problem was.
Surprised that he had been overheard but sensing Moshe's sincerity, he opened up. He had been the sexton of another Shul and one day took a large amount of the Shul's money (he had none of his own) and loaned it to someone he trusted implicitly who promised would pay it back in two days...but the fellow left town! He simply ran away leaving him with a debt he was unable to pay.
It was a large sum of money and now he was so confused, desperate and depressed that....
Moshe immediately told him not to worry and that he would get him the money.
He should come back tomorrow.
The man gratefully hugged and kissed Moshe showering him with thanks and blessings as he left
But as Moshe sat alone again he began to think. Where would he get the money? It would have to be in such a way that no one would know why he needed it. He didn't dare ask his father-in-law. He would certainly interrogate him until he found out.
So he came up with a brilliant idea. He would go to Shmerl's father-in-law (who he wasn't aware, hated him) and would ask him for the loan. He could promise that, if necessary, his own father-in-law would be willing to repay the loan or even subtract it from his dowry.
But Shmerl's father-in-law, burning with jealousy, saw this as a G-d given chance for...revenge. As soon as he heard Moshe's request he ran into a back room and returned with a folded garment of fine white linen. He explained that it was left by him as a surety from someone that had borrowed money and not repaid it.
He told Moshe that he would willingly give him the loan . and didn't even care when he got it back, on the condition that Moshe put on this garment and parade through the streets of the town for all to see.
And as he spoke he held it up by one end and let it unfold for Moshe to see:
it was the vestments of a Catholic Priest!!
It would make Moshe the laughing stock (if not the local idiot) of the entire town. His wife and in-laws wouldn't be able to show their faces in public!!
Finally he would be on the top!!!
Moshe was surprised and amazed; why would Shmerl's father-in-law make such a strange demand? At first he thought it was a joke but when he realized it wasn't...he agreed.
He put on the garment, paraded through the streets at a time when everyone was sure to see him and an hour later returned the garment and got the money.
Needless to say Moshe's in-laws were embarrassed to the bone. Even worse; they suspected, as did everyone else, that Moshe was nuts; that he had lost his mind.
But Moshe refused to tell anyone, not even his wife's family, why he did it lest the shame of the Sexton would be revealed.
After a few days, the town forgot about the incident and after a month of close observation, his family also forgot it.
But this is where the story begins.
Shmerl's father-in-law eventually sold this garment to a tailor for a good price and this tailor decided that this linen would be the perfect material for funeral shrouds (religious Jews use simple white linen garments to dress the dead for burial).
But shortly after they were finished the tailor began feeling his end was near and commanded his children that they should use them for he, himself.
Sure enough, a few days later he passed away and he was buried in these very shrouds he prepared. But that evening a strange thing happened; he appeared to his wife in a dream and requested that she dig him up and remove a patch he had sewn on the shrouds.
The next morning his wife went to the local Rabbi, told him what she had seen in her sleep and asked if such a thing was permissible; to dig up someone just because of a dream. The Rabbi told her that if he appears again she should tell him to appear to him and he would get to the bottom of it.
Sure enough the next evening he again appeared, she did as the Rabbi told her and shortly thereafter he appeared to the Rabbi in a dream and explained his request.
He said that the linen shrouds that he made for himself radiated such holiness that he was being spared all the tribulations and suffering that a soul usually suffers in the grave and he felt that with such garments he would certainly be transported to the highest realms.
Except for one small patch that he attached to the shrouds from another garment; through that patch the forces of judgment and severity were able to enter and torture him.
The Rabbi ordered that the body be dug up and the patch removed.
Afterward the story began circulating and when Moshe heard it he went to the Rabbi and revealed the secret. It was because of his self-sacrifice that the garment had such holiness. (see Likuti Sipurim Perlow sipur 5 and Shmuot and Sipurim vol 1 pg 281)
This answers the questions. This world; even it's most physical and mundane aspects (like the shrouds in our story) are higher than all the spiritual worlds if used to serve the Creator (as Moshe did).
In fact, that is the secret of the raising of the dead. Every limb and aspect of every human body that served the Creator actually becomes eternal, above death. Indeed, if the Jews had united with the Torah and not sinned with the Golden Calf, death would have totally ceased from the world everyone would have lived forever!! That is the essence of the Torah; to make this physical world alive. (like the Holy Temple)
Therefore Moshiach will make three more Cities of Refuge for unintentional murderers.
Moshiach will convince us that no one wants to be separated from the LIVING Torah and that if we do (although it is tantamount to MURDER i.e. being separated from life) nevertheless it is UNINTENTIONAL. In other words... we will see that all sins were really just accidents.
It all depends on us; to do one more good deed, tip the scales and see that this world, if used properly, is the most blessed, meaningful and joyous place possible.
It's up to us to do all we can to bring...Moshiach NOW!!
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