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Shabbat Parashat Haazinu/ Yom Kippur| 5771

Parashat Hashavuah: A Time for Redemption Because There Is No Other Way

Harav Yosef Carmel

A major part of the song of Ha’azinu is dedicated to prophecy on the future history of the Israelite nation. One of the p’sukim reads as follows: “When Hashem will judge His nation and spare His servants, for He will see that there is no strength left in the hand and nothing is able to survive” (Devarim 32:36). (This pasuk has many translations, but that is certainly the basic gist.)

This pasuk, dedicated to redemption, follows a series of p’sukim that describe horrible spiritual deterioration, punishment, and destruction. Some of the ideas included are: the nation became “fat” and kicked. It left its Maker, upsetting Him by clinging to worthless gods. Hashem will turn His face from them. There are figurative descriptions of Divine anger, natural disaster, and great defeats to enemies.

If things were that bad, how did they turn around so that redemption came about? The gemara says: “The son of David (Mashiach) does not come until people give up on redemption” (Sanhedrin 97a). The song of Ha’azinu warns that without sufficient virtue, the nation will suffer great tragedies. On the other hand, there is a promise that Bnei Yisrael will not be totally destroyed. When things look as if there is no hope, redemption is actually blossoming. This is no reason to embrace such a turn of events, as the prospect of the pain of punishment leading up to the redemption is too daunting.

Apparently such a renaissance (albeit a temporary one) took place in the Kingdom of the House of Omri. After a few generations of evil kings, including Achav and his wife, Izevel, Bnei Yisrael reached unprecedented spiritual lows. Even after their overthrow by Yehu, the people still paid the price at the hands of the Kingdom of Aram. The navi uses expressions of despair that are reminiscent of the Song of Ha’azinu (see Melachim II, 14:26). Apparently, the recovery of the nation’s success at the time of Yeruvam II and Uziya, the King of Yehuda, was not based on their merit, but was a swing of the pendulum resulting from the promise that Bnei Yisrael would not be destroyed. This is hinted in the pasuk: “Hashem did not speak to wipe out the name of Israel from beneath the Heaven, and He saved them by the hand of Yeravam the son of Yo’ash” (ibid.:27).

Contemplating these historical predictions in the aftermath of the Holocaust should make one shudder, as it seems like a perfect description of that time’s events. Hashem turned His face away from us, as we were turned over to the mercies of a merciless enemy, who killed old men and little children; disease struck those who were not yet slaughtered. Thank G-d, He would not agree to a “final solution” of the type the enemy had planned. Just years later Hashem blessed us with a liberation and later borders reminiscent of those enjoyed by Uziya and Yeravam II, from the approaches of Damascus to the end of the Sinai desert.

The obligation on our shoulders is greater if we realize that we have no assurance that the redemption came due to our merit. Specifically in these days, when we have passed the Day of Judgment and are looking toward the Day of Atonement, we should improve ourselves and increase our own merits.

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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld


Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.

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