Every day after Shacharis, I cross the street to say “Good Morning” to Shmuel ha Novi. From an open courtyard, there is a direct view of his Kever, which sits atop a ridge on the northern border of Yerushalayim.
Shmuel ha Novi is the Prophet who anointed Dovid King of Israel. Soon, b’ezras Hashem, we will see his successor, the novi who will anoint Moshiach ben Dovid and usher in the Age of Redemption.
If you look at the kever at certain times of day, when the light falls the right way, you see something remarkable. I thought perhaps it was my imagination, but recently a choshuve neighbor said he saw the same thing: the Kever, when viewed from the south, looks exactly like a man riding on a donkey.
My friends, that is exactly what the Novi says: Moshiach ben Dovid will come riding on a donkey! “For behold, your king will come to you, righteous and victorious … a humble man riding upon a donkey….” (Zechariah 9:9; see also Sanhedrin 98a)
Please examine the picture and you will see what I mean. I think that Hashem wants us to visualize the reality of the words of the prophets. We have to know that their words will come to pass.
This week (outside Eretz Yisroel) the Haftara for Parshas Korach is read, in which Shmuel ha Novi speaks to Am Yisroel about his role as a prophet.
What is a prophet?
A prophet is one to whom the words of Hashem are sent directly. If he is pure of heart, he will transmit them faithfully and give guidance to the world. There have been evil prophets, like Bilaam, and many false prophets. The greatest of all prophets was Moshe Rabbeinu, about whom the Torah testifies, “Never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moshe, who Hashem had known face to face …” (Dvarim 34:10) The entire Torah was given to the prophets and this is what has saved our people throughout history.
If we listen to the voice of the righteous prophets, their words will guide us and save us from harm. Too often we do not listen. As Shmuel ha Novi himself testifies, “But they [the people] forgot Hashem, their G-d.” (I Shmuel 12:9)
This is when our troubles begin.
“If only My people would heed me, if Israel would walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes and turn My hand against their tormentors ….” (Tehillim 81)
Why do we tune out the voice of our own redemption?
We have become accustomed to our Exile. We begin to think it is normal to live among other nations, to imitate their laws and customs, to attend their impure entertainment, to follow their corrupt desires and twisted ideas. The result is that we come to regard our own Torah lifestyle as strange and foreign.
My friends, we have become so comfortable in Golus! We have sunk into the non-Jewish lifestyle and have come to believe it is normal. We do not want to believe that this house of cards is about to disintegrate.
The non-Jewish world screams through blaring loudspeakers. The ear-splitting noise so common these days at our own simchas is a reflection of the loud sound of the world of Edom. But – lehavdil – the word of Hashem comes to us quietly. We have to listen carefully for His voice, “a still, thin sound.” (I Kings 19:12)
Thus, Moshiach is described as “a humble man, riding upon a donkey.” Moshiach comes quietly, with kindness, with humility. This is the trait of Am Yisroel.
“Who is destined for a share in the World to Come? One who is modest and humble, who enters bowing and leaves bowing, who learns Torah constantly but doesn’t take credit for himself.” (Sanhedrin 88b)
It is imperative to listen for the subtle sounds of the world of spirituality and not to be entrapped by the loud, raucous sound of the world of Edom. This is not a spiritual exercise; this is the way to save our lives. The image of the man riding on a donkey reminds us.
“Shema Yisroel … Hear Oh Israel!” We have to listen.
B’ezras Hashem: With G-d’s help
Choshuve: Spiritually elevated, respected
Minhag: A custom
Shacharis: Morning Prayers
Shmuel ha Novi: Samuel the Prophet
Shofar Gadol: The Great Shofar announcing the arrival of the Redemption