Our Father Avraham was born in the year 1948, counting from Creation. The Prophet Malachi was born approximately 1400 years later. Jewish prophesy begins with Avraham and ends with Malachi. It is amazing to see how connected they are, and how we – some 2400 years after Malachi – are connected to them.
In this week’s Torah portion we read, “Hashem appeared to [Avraham] in the plains of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of the tent in the heat of the day.” (Genesis 18:1) The Torah expresses “heat of the day” as “k’chom ha yom,” which, according to Rashi, means that Hashem “took the sun out of its sheath,” causing intense heat to reach the earth. This took place directly following Avraham’s bris milah. Rashi explains that Hashem brought this extraordinary heat upon the world so as “not to trouble Avraham with guests” during his recuperation. One of the three “men” who came to visit Avraham at this time was the malach (angel) Raphael, whose mission was to heal Avraham. (Bava Metzia 86b)
Fourteen hundred years later, Malachi Hanovi wrote very similar words: “Ki hinai ha’yom bo …. For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the wicked people and all the evildoers will be like straw, and that coming day will burn them, says Hashem, Master of Legions, so that it will not leave them a root or branch. But a sun of righteousness will shine for you who fear My Name, with healing in its rays….” (Malachi 3:19-20) Once again, the word “yom” is associated with intense heat.
In what way does heat heal?
Ohr Hachaim asks “why Hashem had to bless the creatures of the sea [to multiply], which He did not do for the creatures that came forth from the earth.” He answers as follows: “[The] ability to reproduce [stems from] the basic element of fire [heat]. For the nature of cold … ruins the capability to reproduce.” The reason Hashem blessed the fish “was to declare that they shall have the ability to reproduce, and the coldness of the water [in which they live] will not prevent them [from doing so].” (Genesis 1:23) Ohr Hachaim then refers to our Father Avraham, who believed that he could not father children because he was born under the influence of Jupiter, which is in the cold part of the heavens.
During Kiddush Levana (the blessing over the new moon), we say, “May it be Your will [Hashem] … to fill the flaw of the moon …. May the light of the moon be like the light of the sun and like the light of the seven days of creation, as it was before it was diminished.” After the moon became “dissatisfied” with its lot, Hashem diminished it. (See Chullin 60b) Once apparently equal to the sun, it is now cold and lifeless, bringing no warmth to the world.
Life exists on earth only because Hashem created the sun some 93 million miles away. It is perfectly positioned; a bit further and we would freeze; a bit closer and we would burn. The sun’s warmth enables life to exist. Without it, there would be no life on this planet; indeed there would be no planet at all. Hashem gave the heavenly luminaries “strength and power … to be dominant in the world…. He called out to the sun and it glowed with light.” (Kail Adon)
“Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish [says]: there is no Gehinnom in the World to Come. Rather, Hashem will take the sun out of its sheath; the righteous will be healed by it, whereas the wicked will be punished through it….” (Nedarim 8b) The Maharal explains this Gemora to mean that the sun is considered to be in a category beyond the purely physical creations, who live, reproduce and die. The sun is on the spiritual level of a creation which itself gives life. As a spiritual object, the sun’s radiance is something that reshaim, wicked people cannot handle. As such, they are burned when exposed to the intense heat which will radiate from it after it is withdrawn from the sheath which has covered it since the days of Creation.
But holy people desire nothing more than ruchnius, spirituality. They desire to dwell to the maximum extent in the Presence of Hashem and nothing more than to bring the Shechina, the Presence of G-d, back to the site of the Holy Temple, as we say every day, “May our eyes behold Your return to Tzion in compassion!” (Shemoneh Esreh) Thus Malachi the Prophet can say, “[that coming day will burn] all the wicked people and … evildoers, but a sun of righteousness will shine for you who fear My Name.”
Is it not remarkable, my friends, that one of the greatest environmental threats the world faces today is called “global warming,” which is caused by depletion of the ozone layer, which filters out the direct rays of the sun! The worldwide climate is being affected to the extent that the polar icecaps are melting, oceans are rising and global weather patterns are being disrupted.
My friends, the evidence of the Redemption is everywhere. All this was hinted at when Hashem spoke to our Father Avaraham at the very dawn of Jewish history. “Ma’ase avos siman l’banim … the events in the lives of the fathers are signs for the children!” And the prophesy of Malachi is coming to pass in our own days!
Perhaps this is a sign for us. Maybe our Father Avraham is telling his children: “Kinderlach, be good to your brothers and sisters. Don’t be cold. Don’t ignore your brother. This is our only mishpacha. If we treat each other with love, we will bring healing warmth to the entire world!”
(I wish to thank my choshuve chavrusa Rabbi Shaul Geller for his help in preparing this article.)