There’s a French saying, plus ca change.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I couldn’t help thinking of that when I was trying to get over the massive spiritual fall-out from reading that awful book a couple of weeks’ ago that was mamash slandering the land of Israel, and so many of the Jews who live here, and which made out that it’s a bigger ‘mitzvah’ to stay in galut than to make aliya.
It’s amazing how any discussion of the sin of the spies always seems to be missing from so many of these ‘controversial’ discussions about moving to Israel, at least, in English. Or at least, from the pulpits of so many of the English-speaking ‘rabbis’ who live outside of Israel.
All week, I was trying to weigh up how best to tackle the subject, and if I should tackle the subject at all, even, because God forbid we should have more pointless machloket and sinat chinam floating around, more pointless divisiveness, more pointless ‘opinion’.
As often happens, Rabbenu gave me a clear way to proceed on Shabbat.
I started reading Lesson 20 in Part 1 of Likutey Moharan, and this is part of what I read:
“In the merit of the Torah that is drawn, one attains the Land of Israel, as in, ‘He gave them the lands of nations’ (Psalms 105:44). But the land of Israel is one of the three things that can only be attained through suffering (Brachot 5a), and the main suffering is the obstacles of the wicked, who slander the land.
“These wicked must first be subdued and punished with a sword and death, and only then can one enter the Land of Israel. However, the power to punish the wicked can only be acquired from the power of Edom, for that is his power, as in, ‘You will live by your sword’ (Bereishit 27:40), and he draws sustenance from the astrological sign of Mars.”
SLANDERING THE LAND OF ISRAEL IS STILL A HUGE SIN
Rabbenu wasn’t writing before the destruction of the Second Temple; he was writing 200 years ago, for our generation.
Edom is identified with the church / the West – i.e. all those countries that love their missiles and bombs and massive warships, and which are constantly developing new ways to try to ‘live by their sword’.
(Just look at what’s going on right now in Venezuela, and what’s been going on for decades in so many countries around the world, where the West ‘mixed in’ to ensure that its economic interests would be given first priority by any incoming governments – often to the detriment of that nation’s own citizens.)
Elsewhere, Rabbenu tells us that we’re in exile amongst the nations still, because there are 70 negative character traits, one for each of the 70 main nations of the world. And when we Jews continue to display the negative character traits of a particular nation, then we empower that nation in the world, and give them the ability to keep us in exile.
In other words, geula really is just dependent on Jews working on our own individual bad middot, wherever we happen to live in the world.
So now, Rabbenu told us that Edom / the West ‘draws sustenance from the astrological sign of Mars’, let’s see what that actually means, in terms of what we need to specifically work on.
According to a Baraisa written by Shmuel HaKatan, the planet Mars is related to the following character traits (btw, they happen to all be bad – this is not the case for most of the other planets / celestial bodies.)
THE TRAITS ASSOCIATED WITH MARS:
- External injury
Doesn’t this list give you the shudders?
Doesn’t it describe so much of what is ‘wrong’ in the Jewish world, and the world generally?
We have our work cut out for us!
This is basically the checklist for sinat chinam, or the hatred that a Jew feels for another Jew, that caused the destruction of the Second Temple in the first place, and our long, horrible exile to begin, 2000 years ago.
I know so many of us feel powerless to bring the geula any closer, or any faster, or any sweeter, but that’s so not true. If each Jew would take it upon themselves to really make a serious effort to uproot these seven traits from our lives totally, we’d have geula in the blink of an eye.
And we can do this regardless of where we happen to live.
If we are exhibiting these seven negative characteristics in our own lives – ‘warring’ with people in the comments section online, arguing with people all the time, sending yucky emails, feeling jealous over ‘that one’s’ big house, or bigger bank balance, or thinner thighs, or bigger family, or hating people for holding different opinions, or believing different things, or resorting to guns to deal with our enemies, instead of resorting to prayer and turning to God – then WE are continuing the exile of Edom.
And WE will be held to account for that, by God.
That’s why Breslov emphasizes the personal aspect of geula, or redemption. Breslov teaches:
Get out of your own bad middot, work on rectifying your own negative characteristics, and you’ll experience both personal redemption – and the geula of Am Yisrael.
This is our work. This is our responsibility.
So please, let’s stop wasting time arguing with crazy people, and let’s just got on with doing the work of identifying these ‘Edomite’ characteristics in ourselves, and finally uprooting them.
So Moshiach can come soon, the sweet way.