Parashas Emor

In this week’s parashah, after discussing the counting of the omer, the Torah moves on to Shavuos, saying (Vayikra 23:21): “And you shall call an assembly (u’krasem) on that very day – it shall be a holy assembly unto you.” The Maggid expounds on the four verses in Tanach in which the word u’krasem appears, and interprets them as conveying a message about prayer. We previously presented a synopsis of this essay. We now present a segment of the essay that deals with the exile.
Yeshayah exhorts (verses 52:1-5):
Awaken, awaken! Don your strength, O Tziyon; don your garments of splendor, O Yerushalayim, the holy city …. Shake the dust off yourself – arise, and sit down, O Yerushalayim …. For thus said Hashem: “You were sold for nought ….” Thus said my Lord, Hashem/Elokim: “My people went down to Egypt in days of old to sojourn there …. So now, for what am I here,” says Hashem, “seeing that My people has been taken away for nought?”
The Maggid explains this passage through a parable. Two people lived next to each other, both in splendid houses. One was rich, the other poor. The rich man, together with his family, moved to a village to sojourn there for a few years. He rented his house to someone for this period, charging a hefty rent. The pauper, seeing what his neighbor had done, decided also to leave town temporarily. He said to his family: “Why should we continue living here, impoverished and starving? Let us travel around the province to seek sustenance, until Hashem grants us blessing and enables us to return home and live in comfort.” The family all agreed. They then asked him: “What will we do with our house while we are away?” He replied: “If I knew how long we’ll be away, I’d rent the house just as our neighbor did. But I have hopes that Hashem will send us blessing quickly, and we’ll be able to return soon. If the house is occupied by a tenant under a contract, what will we do? So I have decided instead to let someone board in the house for free during the time we are away, on condition that he will immediately vacate the moment we return, whenever that may be.” And thus he did.
The family wandered from place to place for a long time, but remained completely destitute. The pauper was exceedingly embittered. He said to his family: “You should understand that this bitter exile and wandering is undoubtedly a decree from Hashem. We should not complain about our lot; we are obliged to accept everything cheerfully. But one thing saddens me deeply – that a stranger has been living in our house for so long for free. Had I known we’d be away so long, I would have rented the house, and thereby collected a nice sum of money. It is only because I felt sure we’d return quickly that I allowed this fellow to board in our house without paying rent. But now we have been away for so long, and all this time he has been living in our house for free. Over this I am greatly pained.”
The parallel is as follows. In days of old, Hashem decreed that we be exiled in Egypt under Pharaoh’s subjugation. The exile was for a set time. Hashem therefore regarded it proper that we not be enslaved for free, but rather that the Egyptians should support us at a high standard [see Shemos 16:3, where the Jewish People recall the fleshpots they partook of in Egypt]. But with the present exile it is different – those who rule over us do not provide for us, and we are in constant worry over how we are going to sustain ourselves. Hashem deliberately arranged it this way, for the exile has no set time – the moment we repent and serve Hashem as we should, the exile will come to an immediate end. As it is written (Tehillim 95:7): “For He is our God and we can be the nation He pastures, the flock in His charge – even today, if you would but hearken to His voice.” But our sins have caused the exile to stretch on. Throughout this long period we remain unsettled; Moshiach, the exalted descendant of David, has not yet come. Given this state of affairs, Hashem is saddened, so to speak, and laments the fact that He allowed us to be taken away for nought.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.