Preparing for the Geula
By Mordechai Hadad
Former Shaliach in Montreal (2016-17)
Currently a student in Ariel University
As we get closer to Pesach, we prepare ourselves and our homes in various ways for the “festival of freedom”. The preparations that most quickly come to mind are typically cleaning, cooking and reviewing the halachot of Pesach. This is not at all surprising considering those are the things most pressing for us to deal with.
Before the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash there were additional concerns that required attention, such as maintaining ritual purity for the bringing of the Korban Pesach. To help with these issues, we read Parshat Para which teaches us about the process of purification from the most severe degree of impurity, Tumat Met – impurity contracted from a dead body.
Today, in a time preceding the Geula, these issues are not directly relevant to us and therefore the tradition of reading Parshat Para appears extraneous. It would seem that we continue reading it only because we don’t feel comfortable changing traditions, or just because we’ll need it again soon Bezrat Hashem.
However, a closer look at the Haftara gives us a deeper understanding of Parshat Para and its relevance today. The most obvious connection between the two is the sprinkling of waters of purification. However, this only adds to the former feeling of irrelevance. Instead, I would like to point out another connection, one on the subject of Geulah, which is relevant today more than ever.
In Parshat Vaera (Shemot 6:6-7), Hashem vows to redeem us from Egypt in what we refer to collectively as the “four expressions of Geula”:
Therefore say to Bnei Yisrael, I am God, and I will bring you out from under the suffering of Egypt, and I will deliver you from their enslavement, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. And I will take you to me for a nation, and I will be to you a God, and you will know that I am Hashem your God.
In our Haftorah (Yechezkel 36:22-25), we see a similar exclamation. Here Hashem describes the redemption from Babylonian exile:
“Therefore say to the House of Israel… Thus said Hashem, G-D: Not for your sake will I act, House of Israel, but for My holy name, which you have caused to be profaned among the nations to which you have come. And I will take you from among the nations, and I will gather you up from all the lands, and I will bring youto your land. And I will sprinkle over you waters of purification, and you will be purified from all of your impurities and your Idols. And I will give you a new heart… And I will place My spirit within you… And you will dwell in the land that I have to your forefathers and you will be to me a nation and I will be for you a God”.
Although there are many similarities between the two, I would actually like to point out two differences. The first is the precursor to the section in Yechezkel which says clearly that Hashem is redeeming us for the sake of his name and not for our sake. The second difference can be found in the last part, in a part that otherwise is nearly identical. In Shemot, Hashem says that he will take us to be a nation, whereas in Yechezkel, he says that we will be a nation. We were taken to be a nation at Har Sinai after the redemption from Egypt, chronologically after the chapter of Shemot. But by the time of Yechezkel, we already were Hashem’s nation. Even when we are in Galut, we retain our status as Hashem’s nation and bringing the Geula is in our power.
The Geula described in Yechezkel did not need to happen through miracles. Hashem is just expediting the process that we were meant to go through ourselves. The Geula, it would seem, was meant to come more through our actions; Hashem’s involvement was the result of our delay.
Chazal talk about two possibilities for the coming of Moshiach. The first is that Moshiach will come when we deserve it and the second is that at a specific deadline Hashem gives up waiting for us to earn it and redeems us just to keep his word. Just like we see in Yechezkel that the Geula was in our hands, the final redemption is also in our hands. We are not in situation comparable to Shmot, where we needed miracles and Hashem’s actions to be redeemed and “taken” to be a nation. We are in a situation far more similar to what we saw in Yechezkel. Bringing Moshiach is within our power, but if we don’t do what’s necessary Hashem will do it for us.
Whenever we do things together with Hashem they are far better for us than when we sit idly and wait for Hashem. Similarly to really enjoy and benefit from the Geula, we must take as big of a part in it as possible.
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