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WE ARE THE OLAH!

Roy Neuberger - Mar. 22, 2019


Is it not strange that Passover comes four weeks after Purim? They are the same basic story: the Children of Israel are threatened by a powerful foe and saved by miraculous intervention. Why did the Torah establish one major Holiday after the other?

I believe the Torah is warning us that, throughout our long journey, this story is going to happen over and over. We are going to be in mortal danger many times until the Final Redemption arrives.



Passover and Purim are – of course – different. The events of Passover took place during the period of the Chumash (the Five Books of Moses), and Purim is approximately one thousand years later. Following the events of Passover, we accepted the Written Torah; during the time of Purim, we accepted the Oral Torah. “Perhaps,” says the Or Hachaim, “[The Children of Israel] would need to accept two [distinct] components of the Torah, one that He would convey to them in that setting [Mount Sinai], and one that is comprised of the Oral Law … [that they would hear] in the future from the mouths of the Sages…. The words of the Sages… have no maximum measure…. Who can uphold a Torah such as this that has no maximum measure? For this reason [the generation at Mount Sinai] left the matter undecided … and accepted upon themselves only the Written Torah.” (Exodus 19:5)

Each exile and each redemption has its own distinct place in the history of our People.

But why must we keep going through this?

This week’s Torah Portion opens with “the law of the olah offering.” (Leviticus 6:2) According to the Or Hachaim, this entire passage comes “to comfort our tormented souls,” because we are tempted to lose hope during this seemingly-interminable exile.

We are the olah offering, the “elevated ones,” those who ascended from Biblical Egypt. But, at the Final Redemption,“the Jewish people will rise to even greater heights than they did at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. Thus, the one who already ascended will ultimately ascend even higher.” (Artscroll on Or Hachaim)

The Olah offering stays on the altar the entire night, and the flame burns continuously. The flame is Torah, and we are learned in Torah, “something which is not true of any other nation.” The altar is identified with the suffering of exile, because suffering and the altar both atone for sins. This will continue “all night until the morning,” at which time “[Hashem] will pour His glory upon us” and the dawn of redemption will burst forth upon the earth. (Or Hachaim)

The Torah continues: “The kohain shall don his fitted linen Kesones….” (ibid 6:3). This amazing reference alludes to Hashem’s love for those who refuse to “join [His] Name … with something else,” meaning idol worship. Because we have separated ourselves from idolatry, Hashem refuses to separate Himself from us! “[This will continue] until the spirit of impurity has been removed … and Hashem will be King over the entire world.” (ibid 6:6)

We are certainly close to the dawn! May the sun soon rise on the morning of our Eternal Redemption!

 

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