In this week’s Parsha, we meet our Mother Rivka. Her father was intensely evil, but she became a tzadekes. This sometimes happens. As we mentioned last week, Rus – the mother of Dovid Hamelech and Moshiach – grew up in the pollution of Moab.
“Mai ashpos yarim evyon … from the trash heaps He lifts the destitute … to seat them with nobles, with the nobles of our His people!” (Tehillim 113) Sometimes purity is hidden in the mud, a diamond in the garbage heap.
It seems to take adversity to bring the redemption. Am Yisroel arose from Mitzraim to march to Har Sinai. In the words of King David, “You reduce man to pulp, and You say ‘Repent, Oh sons of man.’” (Tehillim 90) We have seen this throughout history. The holiest people often suffer most intensely.
I saw a recent news item which gave me pleasure (shocking, because most news items cause me pain, which is one reason I try not to look at them.)
Itamar Ben-Gvir, a controversial Member of Knesset, made a statement which was apparently given wide circulation. Entitled “Letter to My Brethren on the Left,” it said: “If you let us get closer, if you listen to the content of our words, you will find that we are brothers. You will find that we agree on ninety percent of issues, that the vision we bring and actions we promote are for you as much as they are for us….”
We need to hear words like this. We need healing. We need brotherhood. We need Jews to smile at each other. The addressee may not listen, but at least the words were uttered. We are one family, isolated –like Avraham Avinu – in a G-d-less world. This understanding is the path to survival.
These parshios remind us that the essence of Am Yisroel is family. Listen to these emotional words: “And Yitzchak brought [Rivka] into the tent of Sarah his mother. He married Rivka; she became his wife and he loved her. And thus was Yitzchak consoled after his mother.”
We are a family. Even our enemy Bilaam recognized this when he said, “Ma tovu … How goodly are your tents, Oh Yaakov, your dwelling places, Oh Yisroel.” (Bamidbar 24:5) The Jewish home is a place of peace in which the Shechina dwells.
It cannot be stressed enough that we are in this golus because of sinas chinom, unwarranted hatred among ourselves, precisely when we act as if we are not family.
Conversely, we received the Torah only because we were “k’ish echad b’lev echad … like one man with one heart.” (Rashi on Shemos 19:2)
My friends, we have all heard this countless times, but I am not sure the message is getting through. Our troubles would be over if we would act like loving friends and family.
But our troubles are not over.
Do we greet each other on the street with “Shalom aleichem?” Sometimes I see a Yid look the other way, avoiding his brother’s face.
What about holding the door for the person behind you?
Am I thinking about the person behind me?
These are life and death matters. Our survival depends on our adherence to the beautiful midos of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. The Shemoneh Esreh begins with the bracha called “Avos.” Why does it say that Hashem “recalls the kindnesses of the Patriarchs and brings a Redeemer to their children’s children ….”?
Think about it! The Anshei Knesses Hagdolah directly linked the coming of Moshiach to the “kindnesses of the Patriarchs!” This is mind boggling! Does this not tell us everything!
Hillel said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the entire Torah; the rest is elaboration. [Now] go and learn [it].” (Shabbos 31a) Was Hillel exaggerating? Don’t even entertain that thought. He was telling us straight truth, the path of life.
“Etz Chaim hi … it is a tree of life,” but we have to grab the tree. It is so important hug the Tree of Life. “A righteous man will flourish like a date palm; like a cedar in the Lebanon he will grow tall. Planted in the house of Hashem, in the courtyards of your G-d they will flourish….” (Tehillim 92)
The winds of change are blowing, my friends. Grab the tree! We have to emulate our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. If we act like family, we will survive forever and merit b’ezras Hashem to see the Final Redemption soon in our days.
Anshei Knesses Hagdola: The great rabbis who composed our prayers
Kever: Burial place
Midos: Character traits
Nes: Banner, sign
Tzadekes: Righteous woman