Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Greatness Of Our Generation

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On the first day of Pesach, the Haftora is from the book of Yehoshua. It tells about the crossing of the Jordan into Israel, then called Canaan. It tells how all of the men were circumcised in preparation for the Pesach sacrifice, the first Pesach celebrated in the land of Israel, and how on the second day of Pesach the manna ran out, forcing them to start eating the produce of the land. It tells how Yehoshua met the angel that was the Chief of G-d's Hosts at Jericho.

Most of the time, the Haftora is connected to the Torah reading, other times, it is connected to the time of year. In this Haftora you have both.

The Torah reading speaks of the first Pesach sacrifice that was done in Egypt, prior to the Exodus. It has the plague of the first born, by Hashem Himself. It has the laws of the Pesach sacrifice, one being, that males had to be circumcised to be able to eat from it. From here we know, that every Jewish male that left Egypt was circumcised.

During the 40 years in the desert, they were lead by Hashem himself, but they didn't do circumcision, and they only did one Pesach sacrifice.

The Haftora tells about the third Pesach sacrifice, done by the Jewish people upon entering the land of Israel. How all the males were circumcised, and how Yehoshua met the angel that would lead the Jewish people from now on.

All these things mentioned in the Haftora, parallel what we read in the Torah, and are connected to the holiday of Pesach. However, the Haftora adds one more thing, that is not mentioned or even hinted to in the Torah reading. That the manna ran out, and that they started eating the produce of the land. And you can't say that it is incidental, being, that this specific Haftora spans 4 chapters, skipping twice over many verses. It is clear that this Haftora was tailored for the first day of Pesach. Why does the Haftora mention this?

Perhaps, because we had to rely on Hashem every day, that the manna would come. This taught us to put our trust in Him. The same is true about the produce of the land of Israel, it is all in the hands of Hashem. Being that on the first day of Pesach we say the prayer of Tal, which is a prayer for sustenance, it makes sense to mention the manna in the Haftora.

In the Haftora, we see that from the time of Yehoshua, the Jewish people were lead by an angel, as opposed to Hashem himself. We read in the Haggadah, that Hashem himself took us out of Egypt, not an angel. The Haftora tells us, that Yehoshua was near Jericho and he saw a man with a sword drawn in his hand. And he said, "I am the chief of the host of Hashem, now I have come." He was an angel, that would lead the Jewish people and fight their wars. The Midrash tells us, that the angel said, "now I have come," but Moshe refused to accept the angel. He wanted Hashem Himself to lead the Jewish people, as Moshe said to Hashem, "If Your Presence does not accompany us, don't take us up from here." Hashem also fought our wars, as Moshe said, "Hashem will fight for you." Why did Moshe and his generation merit Hashem Himself, while Yehoshua and later generations didn't? What quality do we have over Moshe's generation?

Those who experienced the Exodus, were called the generation of the desert. They were a generation of knowledge, and they lived a utopian existence. They were a great and lofty generation that experienced miracles daily, and the most sublime spiritual event in history, the Giving of the Ten Commandments. The miracles that they experienced were so miraculous, that they had no connection to nature. Their souls were from the highest spiritual realm, above angels. Moshe was greater than all of them, the Talmud says, that his face was like the sun. It was specifically this great generation that would be able to put an end to the Egypt of that time, because Egypt was also steeped in knowledge, but of an impure and evil nature. It took the great generation of the desert, to counter and overcome Egypt.

At such a high level of spirituality, it was no wonder, that Hashem himself lead them. However, although they were basking in the light of Torah, they did not partake in making the physical world into a dwelling place for Hashem. They were not involved in the physical, but only the spiritual, and while that sounds lofty, it is not what Hashem wants. He wants us to infuse the physical world with G-dliness, and in the desert that wasn't so possible.

The generation that entered Israel was not at the level of those of the desert. Their souls came from a lower realm, where the chief of hosts, who is an angel, comes from. The Talmud says about Yehoshua, that "his face was like the moon."

The difference between the sun and the moon, is that the sun gives direct light, while the moon reflects light. The light originates from the same place, but how it comes to us is different.

The same is true about our souls, they originate in the same place, but while some take a direct route, most travel through many spiritual realms before entering our bodies. While the lofty souls aren't affected by the lower spiritual realms, they don't affect them either, because they have no connection to them. The souls that come through the lower spiritual realms, are able to draw the G-dly light from the its source in the highest realm into the lower realms, by learning Torah and doing mitzvahs.

Those who entered the land, had to deal with the Canaanites, a more base society. It took specifically their souls to overcome the Canaanites.

The same is true for all subsequent generations. Though each gets progressively lower, they are able to draw G-dliness into lower and lower realms. And every generation is equipped to deal with, and overcome the negative forces of their time.

You might ask, if the great and holy people of previous generations couldn't bring Moshiach, how could we? Because it is specifically our souls that can bring G-dliness into the lowest level. And it is specifically our souls that are equipped to deal with, overcome, and break through the terrible darkness at the end of the exile, and usher in the light of Moshiach. May he come soon.

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