Parshas Bo 5761

by | Oct 15, 2001 | 0 comments

In Kabbalah there is a concept called “awakening from above” and there is another concept called “awakening from below”. “Awakening from below” means that sometimes we, down here, can take an action that prompts G-d above to react.

What triggered the Exodus from Egypt? I heard an astonishing Medrash from Rabbi Yissachar Frand. The Medrash says that when Moshe was young, living in the palace of Pharaoh, he removed his princely garments and went out into the field to try to help his fellow-Jews make bricks and mortar. Moshe was unable to stand idly by in the palace while his brothers were suffering. He felt the urge and the need to join them. He wanted to be a part of their pain. G-d, according to the Medrash, said to him: “You left your comforts to participate in the pain of Israel, I will do the same!”

Moshe’s personal, emotional participation in the pain of Israel was an act of “awakening from below” which caused G-d to respond from Heaven. The ultimate result was redemption.

When one Jew worries about another – when he cannot sleep well because another Jew is not sleeping well – then that prompts G-d to take action.

We are living through a historical time for Eretz Yisroel. Jews are in danger and Yerushalayim is in danger. Perhaps we need some isarusa d’lsato or awakening from below. All those concerned about Eretz Yisroel need to think together about what we can do to spiritually trigger a response from Heaven.

The rise and fall of Yerushalayim has always been directly tied in to our unity. Being that Yerushalayim belongs to all the tribes of Israel, if the tribes are split, then so is Yerushalayim.

Unity today is a very tricky business. The various branches of Judaism have become very sophisticated. They have become very independent and feel that they can go it alone. Tolerance is at an all-time low. The disparities between different types of Jews have become so pronounced that it is difficult for one Jew to relate to another. So how is this Mitzvah of unity done?

Last June the famous television show “60 minutes” aired a report called “Whose Country Is It?” Following is an exact quote from that show. “The fact of life in the Middle East today is that Israel is less threatened by its Arab neighbors than at any time in its history. It has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, its war with Lebanon is over and its border with Syria is quiet and has been for a few decades. Has peace really come to the Middle East? Not really. Israelis are still at war with themselves. The issue: whose country is it?” They show a picture of a war between a shtreimal and a baseball cap while Zev Chefetz says “We are not really connected to one another, we are not really part of the same people.” Politically, so much has changed since last June. Yet nothing has changed.

How do we do the mitzvah of achdus? We keep in mind that a Jew is a Jew – period.

Hear are a few practical suggestions.

When hearing of a casualty in Israel, G-d forbid, resist the urge to ask what kind of Jew it was.

When asked what kind of Jew you are, define yourself in the positive. Most people are identified by what they are against. This is destructive and probably Lashon Hara.

Think of some positive aspect of every group of Jews. This was the custom of the holiest Tzadikkim. Even if a particular lifestyle does not suit you, the group is contributing something positive to the general cause. This exercise is difficult but it can refine and purify our entire thinking process.

Family is family and all Jews are brothers and sisters, whether we like them or not. Let’s do our part to keep the family together.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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