Weekly Inspiration

Ride The Donkey
February 15th, 2024
Ride The Donkey

The Torah now discusses the centerpiece of Jewish life, the Mishkan, which became the Bais Hamikdosh

We have lost the Bais Hamikdosh and are awaiting its rebuilding. 

May we see it soon in our days! 

As we near the day of its rebuilding, we are increasingly trembling with excitement … and the rest of the world is exploding with anxiety, trying with all their strength to prevent its rebuilding. “When the wicked sprout like grass, it is only to destroy them unto eternity…..” (Tehillim 92) They will do anything they can to try to stop it, because they want to keep kedusha out of the world. They want a hefker world, a world in which there are no rules so they can continue their lawless existence! 

And we, Hashem’s people, are trembling with anticipation because we sense the nearness of the Redemption! But what stands in the way?  

I want to explore a vital question. Why is Golus Yishmoel the final – and most difficult -- exile in Jewish history? (See Redemption Unfolding, Chapter 6 for many sources.)

Yishmoel was our initial test. In the first generation of our nation, in the days of our Father Avraham, the first child was Yishmoel. His mother was Hagar the Egyptian. The fact that Yishmoel’s mother was not Sarah is vital to understanding his personality. 

Yishmoel is called “pe’re adam … a wild ass of a man.” Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch zt”l explains that Hebrew grammar is turned upside down in this description to emphasize the fact that his humanness is subsidiary to his animal nature. The Chofetz Chaim stated that Yishmoel can dress in a suit and tie and be a professor or doctor, but he is still and will forever be an animal in human clothing. When Avraham and Yitzchok go to the Akeida, they leave Eliezer and Yishmoel with the chamor, the donkey. This is where Yishmoel belongs. 

Yishmoel was born at the very advent of our nation’s existence. I want to say that this is where our nation began the process of straining out impurities in our national stock so that we could become who we are destined to become. The other nations possess no Torah to make them into spiritual beings, so the first impurity which had to be separated out of Am Yisroel was the animal nature represented by Yishmoel. 

We have now lived as a nation for thousands of years. At this point we stand at the threshold of returning to a state of purity in which all the dross will be expunged from our national soul. Obviously we have never completely freed ourselves of this impurity, because, if we had, Moshiach would already have been revealed and the Bais Hamikdosh would be standing before us. The animal nature of Yishmoel is extremely powerful in this world, but now, at the culmination of our final Exile, we are facing it directly. If we are to bring the age of Moshiach, then the animal aspect of mankind cannot be allowed to rule the world. In accordance with that awesome test, we are now being subjected to animalistic barbarity in its most raw form. 

We can learn something else from Yishmoel’s nature: the essence of marriage. 

Yishmoel’s mother was Hagar the Egyptian. Yitzchak’s mother was Sarah Imeinu.

Look at the children. 

Yitzchak was a rarified tzaddik whose life can be described by the term “pachad Yitzchak.” His personality consisted of an intense perception that he was constantly standing in front of the Master of the Universe. He measured every word and action. 

Because Yitzchak and Yishmoel are sons of Avraham Avinu, they share a vivid perception of the existence of Hashem. Avraham bequeathed this trait to his children. They are the only two nations whose national name contains the Name of Hashem. 

But look at the mothers and you will understand the difference. 

Sarah embodied the warmth, compassion and comfort that emanate from a loving mother. The Shabboslamp was never extinguished in her tent and the light of Shabbos emanates from her children. The world is a beautiful place because of the lichtige neshoma which Sarah implanted in her children. 

Hagar was a cold Egyptian. She threw her son under a bush in the desert and turned away from him rather than see him die. She is cruel and selfish. The Torah likens the Moslem nation to a female crow, the one bird which never takes care of its young. (Bava Basra 73b/Maharsha; see Redemption Unfolding page 42)

Egyptian culture centers on witchcraft. Torah culture, lehavdil, focuses on Hashem, the origin of life and the cradle of goodness. The symbol of Yishmoel is the moon, which is dark and cold. Its light comes only from the sun. The culture of Yisroel, lehavdil, is “light, gladness joy and honor” (Megilas Esther 8:16) 

The last and most difficult Exile is Golus Yishmoel. With our hearts filled with Torah, we will get through it and see a world of unending goodness, light and joy. Moshiach will ride the donkey and subdue him forever.

“May You shine a new light on Tzion and may we all speedily merit its light.”

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