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Devar Torah - Behar-Bechukosai

Thursday, 6 May, 2021 - 6:00 pm

What’s a Nice Kallah Doing In a Place Like a Tanner’s Market?

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said that whenever the Jewish people went into the golus Hashem went along with them together, as it states; “Golah laEdom Shechina emahem-When the Jewish people were exiled into the lands of Edom the Divine Presence escorted them.”

On the pasuk ”V’Shav Hashem Elokecha es shevuscha- Then Hashem your G-d will return your captivity” (Devarim 30:3) Rashi explains; 

 To express this idea it ought to have written "V'Haishiv Hashem-that Hashem will bring back thy captivity" instead of "Veshav Hashem-that Hashem will return?". But our Rabbis learned from this that, if one can say so of Hashem this means that His Divine presence dwells with the Jewish people  in all the misery of their exile, so that when they are redeemed (i.e. when He speaks of their being redeemed), He makes the Torah write “Redemption” of Himself (i.e. He makes it state that He will be redeemed) — that He will return with them (R' Shimon in Megillah 29a). Furthermore the pasuk "Veshav...es" which means that the day of the gathering from galus is so important that it is as though He (Hashem) Himself actually holds each individual’s hands bringing him from his place, so that Hashem  Himself returns from the galus with us

The Rebbe when quoting this pasuk would often add the pasuk, “B’kol tzarasam, LO tzar- In all of their sufferings it is (LO) for Him (Hashem) suffering”, and the Rebbe would call out by the word ‘Lo-for Him”. This teaches us that Hashem is not distant, as if looking from afar, rather here with us in our pain.

The Zohar HaKodesh on this week’s parsha quotes R’ Eliezer the son of R’ Shimon on the tochacha section- the rebuke (the third aliya 26:44);

וְאַף־גַּם־זֹ֠את בִּֽהְיוֹתָ֞ם בְּאֶ֣רֶץ אֹֽיְבֵיהֶ֗ם לֹֽא־מְאַסְתִּ֤ים וְלֹֽא־גְעַלְתִּים֙ לְכַלֹּתָ֔ם לְהָפֵ֥ר בְּרִיתִ֖י אִתָּ֑ם כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶֽם׃ Yet, even then, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or spurn them so as to destroy them, annulling My covenant with them: for I am Hashem their G-d. 

R’ Eliezer said not to read the word לְכַלֹּתָ֔ם  to mean to destroy, rather read it to mean that I will not reject them etc., because they (the Jewish people) are my Kallah (similar to the tefillah of “Lecha Dodi likras Kallah” where the Kallah also refers to the Jewish people). 

R’ Eliezer goes on to explain that the land of the enemies (in the galus) is likened to a tanner’s market which radiates foul odors. That is the place where Hashem’s Kallah (the Jewish people) is found. Hashem is saying in this pasuk that the foul odors etc. do not matter. As long as His Kallah is there it’s as if the tanner’s market is filled with beautiful perfumes. 

The Rebbe explains that the terrible stench of the galus, the tanner’s market is not where a good Jew belongs. It’s a place without a Beis HaMikdash and the avoda of korbonos, ketores or even tefilla which is in their place. We, the Jewish people, Hashem’s Kallah, are trapped in this tanner’s market. 

Hashem tells every Jew, “I am there with you. I feel you have the most pleasant odors, like the most beautiful perfumes.” Hashem sees our galus  and how we nevertheless do mitzvos and educate our children in the Torah etc. Not only does the environment not harm us, we have the inner potential and power to strengthen ourselves in the galus, the tanners market in all aspects of Judaism. We have the strength to be living examples for all others to be successful and strong in upholding Judaism and proper Torah education. This brings a pleasant aroma, a nachas ruach  to Hashem like the very best perfume.

This is what R’ Eliezer adds to his father R’ Shimon’s teaching. R’ Shimon taught that Hashem does not forsake us gazing from afar from His palace on high, rather Hashem is with us now and will go out together with us from this galus. R’  Eliezer adds that our work within  the galus  itself brings such a nachas ruach,  a pleasing aroma to Hashem. This should surely cause Hashem to take us out of galus and then He will walk hand-in-hand with every Jew to the geula.

It is with this thought and this feeling that we cry out to Hashem with true sincerity and say that it's been long enough in the golus; Ad Mosai!  we've had enough, now is the time for the geula.

A Good Shabbos, A Good Chodesh

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