Sunday, October 30, 2005

Prophetic Words...

This past Shabbat Parshat Breishit, the 1st Parsha of the Torah was read. On the very 1st word of the Torah, "Breishit" ("In the Beginning"), Rashi - Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (February 22, 1040 – July 17, 1105), the unequaled Biblical commentator, asks the following famous question:
R. Yitzchak said: The Torah should have begun with [the verse] "This month shall be [your first month]," it being the first precept that the Israelites were commanded. Then why does it [the Torah] begin with "In the beginning"? This is because [of the concept contained in the verse,] "He declared the power of His works to His people in order to give to them the inheritance of nations." Thus, should the nations of the world say to Israel, "You are robbers, for you have taken by force the lands of the Seven Nations," they [Israel] will say to them: "All the earth belongs to G-d. He created it and gave it to whomever He saw fit. It was His will to give it to them and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us."

Anyone reading this Rashi can appreciate how appropriate his words are today, where not a moment goes by that the Jewish People and State of Israel are forced to justify their right to the Land of Israel.

However, consider that Rashi wrote these words at some point before the year 1100. From the year 1100 until 1948, a period of nearly 850 years, this Rashi made almost no sense.

Can you imagine a Jewish father teaching this Rashi to his son in the midst of the Crusades, the Inquisition, pogroms, persecutions and the Holocaust. For 850 years, the conversation might have gone something like this:
Father: So, Rashi is teaching us that the reason that the Torah starts with the story of creation (even though the Torah is not meant to be learned as merely a story book), and not the 1st commandment that the Jewish People were commanded in, of sanctifying the new moon, is because one day the nations of the world are going to say, "You are robbers, for you have taken by force the lands of the Seven Nations"...

Son: Abba (father), what in the world is Rashi talking about?

Father: What do you mean?

Son: Well, Abba, here we are, living in Exile for the last thousand+ years, under daily persecutions, living in a ghetto, and you're telling me that one day the Jewish People are going to be able to move to Israel, a place where we will not be a minority but sovereign, and that the nations of the world are going to call us thieves?

Come on...

Father: I know it sounds too fantastic to believe, but son, we must continue to pray to Hashem, 3 times a day in the direction of Jerusalem, and the day will come when Hashem will finally answer our prayers, and return the Jewish People to the Land of Israel.

You're just going to have to trust me on this one...

Son: OK, Abba... Can I go outside and play now?

Father: Sure, but do me a favor and play inside today. You know, after what happened last night, it might be safer, until things calm down.

Son: Oh... alright.

Look how far the Jewish People have come. With all of the challenges that the Jewish people face today, we must put htings in their proper perspective. It is only in the last century that we have merited to truly appreciate these prophetic words of Rashi, and just as these words of Rashi have come true, so too will all of the other prophecies of the Torah will come true...

May it be speedily, in our days!


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