April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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With so much going on in the world, and with so much difficulty all around us, one might wonder “when will this galut be over already?” However, the more practical question may be, “what good can we do to bring the final redemption?” We don’t have to stand by idly and wait for Mashiach and Hashem’s interventions—we can do our part to hasten the geula.

In our parsha, in the Shirat Hayam, Bnei Yisrael sang, “You led with Your kindness this people you redeemed.” The midrash comments that “you led with Your kindness” is a reference to acts of kindness. According to this, the verse in Shirat Hayam would perhaps indicate that acts of kindness contributed to us being redeemed from Mitzrayim. Indeed, says the Chafetz Chaim, this midrash shows us that because of the chesed we did for each other in Mitzrayim, that merit contributed and enabled us to be worthy to be redeemed. As is brought in Tana D’vei Eliyahu, that when Bnei Yisrael were in Mitzrayim, they got together and made a pact to commit to doing chesed for one another. The Chafetz Chaim says that Bnei Yisrael’s intention was to arouse Hashem’s mercy for them; They hoped that if they engaged in acts of kindness, this will cause Hashem to be kind towards them and nullify the harsh decrees that existed in Mitzrayim. The chesed they performed for one another, ignited Hashem’s compassion for them and He ultimately redeemed them (Chafetz Chaim al HaTorah, Beshalach).

One who does chesed may look at it from a narrow outlook: “I’m simply just helping another person.” But there’s also a much broader outlook, as this act of kindness can be contributing to a much greater benefit—not just for that person, but for the entire Jewish population. It may be an essential building block for the greater redemption, which affects the entire nation.

Back in parshat Lech Lecha, Hashem tells Avraham, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” In Rashi’s second explanation, he explains that “I will make of you a great nation” is referring to that which is said [in the first blessing of the Amidah prayer]: “God of Avraham”; “I will bless you” is referring to that which is said: “God of Yitzchak”; and “I will make your name great” refers to that which is said: “God of Yaakov.” You might think [that this blessing in the Amidah] should conclude with mentioning all of them—Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Thus comes the pasuk above and says “and you will be a blessing.” Hashem is saying to Avraham that with you specifically the blessing is concluded (as it says “magen Avraham”), and not with them.

What’s Rashi coming to teach us?

I heard from Rav Ephraim Shapiro who quoted the Kotzker Rebbe explaining that we know Yaakov was the pillar of Torah; Yitzchak was the pillar of avodah; and Avraham was the pillar of chesed. When we are looking to bring Mashiach, which pillar is going to be the mechanism to usher in his arrival? The Navi Yeshaya (1:27) answers: Tziyon…will return [to Eretz Yisrael] with tzedaka. Through tzedaka, i.e. through acts of kindness, we will merit to herald in the final redemption and return once and for all to our homeland. Through Avraham’s trait! Says the Kotzker, when Rashi says that only with Avraham we conclude, this can also be understood to mean that through utilizing and putting into action the midah of Avraham—through doing chesed which is what Avraham was all about and what he personified—this galut will conclude.

By giving to others Jews, we can hasten and get the geula! This shows the tremendous and global power of chesed: While it may seem like we are helping just another person, we are essentially helping ourselves and the entire Jewish population because every act of kindness we do for another Jew could be bringing us closer and closer to our national, ultimate and final redemption.


Binyamin is a graduate of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchanan, and of Wurzweiler School of Social Work

 

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