This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Parshat Haazinu (5764)
The common factor between this week's section 'Ha'azinu' and the upcoming holiday of Rosh HaShanna is...Moshiach.
Parshat Ha'azinu begins : "Remember the days of yore, contemplate the coming generations"(32:7) and ends: "Behold, gentiles, G-d's people etc."
Both refer to the Moshiach and the ideal world he will bring.
Similarly, in the prayers of Rosh HaShanna we say: "Therefore, G-d, sanctify Your name. on the Kingship of Moshiach etc. All beings will bow to You G-d. All your creations will be called in Your awesome name etc."
Things that will occur only in the days of Moshiach.
Isn't this a bit exaggerated? Why is Moshiach such a main focus of our prayers in Rosh HaShanna? How can it be that one man can cause such changes?
Why doesn't G-d just do it all himself?
To understand this here is a story that I just heard from the one it happened to.
Daniel was just a baby when his parents moved from Russia to Israel.
His father was a doctor and quickly found work in the Holy Land and things were looking good....until the 'allergy'.
He was only four and a half years old when it began; his eyes started itching. At first it was just annoying but it developed into more than that. It didn't let up and it was getting deeper and more painful.
The doctors made all sorts of tests. They thought that perhaps it was a nervous condition, perhaps something hereditary, perhaps an infection, perhaps an allergy.
And meanwhile it developed into throbbing pain was becoming unbearable.
Finally the doctors figured out that it was a rare eye disease caused by some sort of virus that caused the eyes to react violently to light.
Poor little Daniel had to take pills, get shots and wear special thick sunglasses with flaps on the side to insure that no sunlight at all would enter. But, although it was better than nothing, it did not even begin to solve the problem.
Even in the dark his eyes itched constantly. But if there was ever a bright light of any sort; a flash from a camera, the passing glare of a car window on the classroom wall, the clouds parting on a rainy summer day, it felt as though long needles were being inserted and twisted into Daniel's eyes. He would press on his eyes will all his might and begin screaming from the excruciating pain.
But his parents refused to be defeated. They vowed to spare no money, time or trouble to search for the cure. They took Daniel from one doctor, professor, medical center, hospital to another. And each time was the same story; the doctors made examinations, analyzed the preceding attempts, made conferences, developed new theories and tried new approaches, but inevitably also failed.
Meanwhile, along with 'conventional medicine' Danny's parents did not rule out 'alternative methods'. He was taken to the greatest experts in acupuncture, massages, herbs, oils, diets, meditations, amulets, unique gems, ancient Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Russian healing etc. but nothing worked.
Then there were Tzadikim. Daniel's parents, unlike most Jews that come from Russia, not only had no aversion to Judaism, were religious Jews. And when they heard that there were holy Tzadikim whose blessings bore fruit, their hopes again rose.
They went from Rabbi to Rabbi, city to city. All of the greatest Tzadikim in Israel that had made the lame walk and the barren give birth did their best, but for some reason Daniel was different. He remained in pain and torture.
For six years he suffered hell on earth; indescribable pain, discomfort and humiliation. Every week was a new medicine or treatment. It would take him an average of one and a half hours every morning to open his eyes; the lids were simply stuck closed. In school he had to sit behind a special partition in the classroom where no bright light could enter and it goes without
saying that he could not play like the other children.
Finally, after they had tried everything available and Danny was eleven years old the foremost eye expert in Israel sadly contacted Danny's parents and advised them to teach him Braille. If possible he should be prepared psychologically.
In another year Danny would be blind
It was just at this time that Daniel's parents finished their plans and decided to move to America.
Israel was nice, but the U.S.A had always been their goal. They had landed good jobs in New York; their friends found a place for them to live and also found a good specialist for Daniel (maybe there was still hope) and before they knew it they were on the plane to a new chapter in life. Perhaps the change in place would change their 'mazal' (luck) as well.
The first Shabbat in America they spent at the home of a friend in the district of Brooklyn where the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim live, and one of the features of that Shabbat was a 'Farbringen' with the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Daniel, despite his handicap, was a lively boy and although he didn't understand a word of Yiddish (the Rebbe knew tens of languages but in public usually spoke Yiddish) he attended, and still remembers the farbringen well; it was interesting to look at the Rebbe's face.
And the next day, Sunday, was 'dollars'.
For years the Lubavitcher Rebbe used to stand on his feet for hours each Sunday and pass out dollar bills 'to be distributed to charity' to thousands of Jews that came from all corners of the world.
But Daniel's father refused to go saying; "The boy has been through enough.
We've already seen the best doctors and greatest Rabbis. We have a busy day with a lot to do. We've been your guests long enough. We aren't Lubavitchers etc."
But it didn't help. That next morning they were standing in the long line and when their turn came little Daniel was anything but shy.
He looked up through his thick, dark glasses at the Rebbe and said in Russian, in as loud a voice as he could,
"I want to be healthy and I want to be a Talmudic Scholar. And I wish the Rebbe Success and health."
The Rebbe smiled, gave him a dollar and said "Amen" and as Daniel was about to leave, the Rebbe added "B'korov Mamash" (Very Very soon!)
The next Sunday morning, exactly one week later, Daniel woke up and opened his eyes!
It was the first time in six years that they weren't stuck closed!!!
Then he noticed that the itching stopped!! It took him a few minutes to realize it, but could it be that...?
He put on his glasses, went to the window, opened the shades, then the window itself and looked outside. It was a beautiful summer day. He opened his eyes as wide as possible, slowly removed the glasses and began to cry from joy.
The pain was gone!!!
And it never returned again.
The next day the specialist, after giving him a thorough examination, determined that he probably needing reading glasses. but except for that there was and never HAD BEEN any problem! (If it wasn't for the fact that Daniel's father saved the medical records no one would have believed differently).
Daniel went on to receive his rabbinic ordination from the Chabad Yeshiva in Morristown, just a few years ago he got married and just a month ago get appointed to work in a very active and growing Chabad house in Russia (that is where I met him and heard his story).
The message of the story is powerful: there are some things that we just cannot do ourselves - only G-d can do them.
But our story, (like that of Abraham and all the founders of Judaism) tells us that G-d ultimately works through one or two people in every generation.
And the grand finale will be Moshiach.
Just as the Lubavitcher Rebbe healed Daniel (and thousands of others like
him) although it was 'impossible' so Moshiach will do the impossible and heal the ENTIRE WORLD.
But it is up to us to do all we can to bring him. even one second earlier.
And that is the purpose of the prayers of Rosh HaShanna. (indeed, of the entire year). To beseech G-d, to give us power to, in the language of the Rebbe,
"Open our eyes", "Coronate the Moshiach" and do ALL WE CAN to make sure that THIS YEAR will be the one we have been waiting for since the beginning of Creation the END of exile and beginning of Redemption with....
Copyright © 1999-2018 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.