One evening, years ago, as we walked in the garden at Kibbutz Lavi, we inhaled an aroma that seemed to come from Gan Eden. When we later merited to plant our own garden in Yerushalayim, we searched for the source of that aroma. It is a tree called Queen of the Night.
“In [Gan Eden] every animal and plant, all the clouds in the sky and the stars and planets, existed in harmonious unity. All life was nourished without pain to any other living thing …. There was no killing, animosity or competition. G-d had made a world of beauty for the enjoyment of His creatures. Why would a horse have stripes? For the enjoyment of man. When Adam and Eve looked at the zebra, they could bless G-d because He had made such an extraordinarily beautiful animal for them to admire and delight in. The flashing colors of exotic fish, the leap of a gazelle, the song of the birds, the Northern lights in a starlit sky, a distant thunderstorm … all this was created just for them. Why did G-d make such a beautiful universe? Only for us, His beloved children, so that we should have a world to delight in.”
Hashem created a fragrant tree in his world. Precisely at sundown, its flowers open and release their aroma. I think of Moshiach when I inhale this aroma. At dawn the flowers close, and that is why it is called Queen of the Night.
Why should this beautiful aroma be released only at night? Here is another chessed from Hashem. I would say that He is giving us chizzuk. “The heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the expanse of the sky tells of His handiwork. Day following day brings expressions of praise and night following night bespeaks wisdom.”
Our current world is immersed in darkness. Hope for redemption seems to fade every second. How can we ever be redeemed? Suddenly, in the midst of the blackness, Hashem sends a fragrance which reminds us that Gan Eden still exists! He reminds us that He is going to send the Redeemer, the way Moshe Rabbeinu redeemed our ancestors when they had fallen to the forty-ninth level of impurity, or the way he had to pass through thick darkness as he ascended Har Sinai.
In the deep darkness, there is hope.
This week we read the Haftara of Balak, about which Rabbi Avraham ha Kohain Pam zt”l wrote, “It is no coincidence that [this haftara is usually read on] the Shabbos before the Three Weeks, the period of mourning for the Bais Hamikdosh.”
Please hear the words of the Prophet: “And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples.” This seems to be our situation today, a sheep among seventy wolves. But no! That is not what the Prophet tells us! We are not sheep! Instead, he says, we are “like a lion cub among the flocks of sheep …. Your hand shall be raised over your adversaries and all your enemies shall be cut down!”
Do not think we are lost, Am Yisroel! In fact, our Redemption is near!
Please hear the remarkable words of Rabbi Yechiel Perr: “If we would have had the [merit] of seeing into the Mishkan, we might have been surprised … how dark it was inside. There were no windows. A small amount of light may have come in around the sides and the bottom of the thick curtain at the entrance. For a short time, there also would have been some light from the glow of the coals on the Altar of Incense. And of course, there was the glorious Menorah whose beautiful and pure light would dispel all darkness while it was lit. But, nevertheless, the Mishkan was … dark …. The Creator dwells in darkness. His Presence is hidden…. His thoughts, and the reasons for that which He brings upon man, are also hidden. The Children of Israel wait patiently, knowing the Creator is hidden and that therefore His plan is hidden. And we are thereby elevated by the test of our not knowing when ….”
Do you remember how our Father Abraham found the Cave of Machpela, where Adam, Eve, all the Patriarchs and three of the Matriarchs are buried? He followed a deer and then he inhaled the aroma emanating from the Garden of Eden.
My friends, there is an aroma in the darkness, emanating from the Garden of Eden. It is imperative that we seek it out, because it will guide us through the darkness and remind us how close we are to Redemption. A little while more, my friends, and suddenly a great light will burst forth upon the earth.
Our Haftara ends with these words: “With what shall I approach Hashem? Shall I humble myself before G-d of the Heavens? Shall I approach Him with burnt offerings? …. He has told you, Oh man, what is good and what Hashem seeks from you: only the performance of justice, the love of kindness and walking humbly with your G-d.”
May we see the complete Redemption soon in our days and inhale the perfect aroma of the Ketores emanating from the Bais Hamikdosh!