Shemini – Molding Our Future

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The Mesilas Yesharim in the first chapter, “Man’s Duty in This World,” relates: “If you look more deeply into the matter, you will see that the world was created for man’s use. In truth, man is the center of a great balance. For if he is pulled after the world and is drawn further from his Creator, he is damaged, and he damages the world with him. And if he rules over himself and unites himself with his Creator, and uses the world only to aid him in the service of his Creator, he is uplifted and the world itself is uplifted with him.” This concept is precisely illustrated by the laws of kashrus in this week’s Torah portion of Shemini.

The Medrish Rabba in this week’s Torah portion says that when the Torah says: “This is the domesticated animal [you are able to eat],” this aptly fits in with the pasuk in Mishlei which says: “Every word of God is refined” (Mishlei 30:5). Rav says that the mitzvos [commandments] were only given to the Jews in order to refine through them all the creatures in existence. Why was this done, because it says at the end of this pasuk in Mishlei: “He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” The Maharz”u explains that by performing mitzvos with the creatures amongst us, we are refining them to be brought into the life of the World to Come as reward for fulfilling the mitzvos [through them].

The Medrish goes on to list the ramifications of treating the creatures in this world properly. There is an eye-opening lesson that will be learnt from this part of the medrish. “Rebbe Yudan the son of Rebbe Shimon said: ‘Behemot and Leviatan shall be the beasts of contest (the show) for the righteous in the hereafter, and whoever abstains from witnessing the beast fights of the nations in this world, shall be admitted to see them. How will they be slaughtered? Behemot will chop Leviatan with its horns and rip it apart and Leviatan will chop Behemot with its fins and stab it. (To see more on Behemot vs. Leviatan click here.) The sages asked, is this a kosher slaughtering? Didn’t we learn that one can slaughter with anything at any time besides with a sickle, harvesting blade, a saw, and teeth, for they choke [the animal]. Rebbe Abba bar Kahana answered, Hashem said, ‘The Torah was established by me, so I can commence anew a Torah law from myself.’

The Yidei Moshe, explaining the last statement, says it is permissible for Hashem to slaughter with fins, but for a person, for whom the Torah was given in order to refine their hearts and to instill in them the attribute of mercy, it is forbidden to use fins because it is cruelty to animals.

The Medrish concludes with another thing which Hashem is going to provide in The Next World, which is unkosher in this world: “Rebbe Brachia said in the name of Rebbe Yitzchok that in the future Hashem will make a breakfast for His righteous servants, and anyone who did not eat carcasses (non-shechted animals) in this world will merit to eat it in the World to Come as it says, ‘The fat of carcass and the fat of an animal with a fatal disease or injury, may be used for any work, but you shall not eat it’ (Vayikra 7:24). This is in order so that you can eat it in the future, therefore Moshe warned all the Jews and said ‘this is the wild animals you can eat.’” (Click here for Hebrew text)

It is very clear from what was said earlier that Hashem gave us the mitzvos for the benefit of mankind, and indeed all of creation, in order to mold and refine us so that we will be properly prepared and deserving of The World to Come. The World to Come is one of perfection and bliss, which the beginning of the first chapter of Mesilas Yesharim describes as “rejoicing in G-D and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; for this is true joy, and the greatest pleasure that can be found. The place where this joy may truly be derived is the World to Come.”

It would seem from this medrish that there will be some level of a physical manifestation of this pleasure in the World to Come where Hashem, lihavdil, will be serving the righteous breakfast and special meat from the giant creatures, Behemot and Leviatan. (It seems obvious that this is not just figurative from the fact the medrish asks how a non-kosher shechita can be performed on the Behemot to be eaten by the righteous). What seems questionable is how Hashem will allow and even “serve” non-kosher meat; whether it is the chelev (which is non-kosher fats) of an animal who was not slaughtered, or even if the animal was slaughtered properly, of a treifa (an animal with a blemish), which will be served at the breakfast in the World to Come, as well as the Behemot which will be halachically not slaughtered properly? Isn’t this contradictory? How can Hashem tell us not to eat from a non-kosher animal, or not to eat non-kosher fats, and then proceed to feed it to us in the World to Come? Especially, as the Yidei Moshe says, as the whole point of kosher slaughter is to instill in us a feeling of mercy by not being cruel to animals. So how can the righteous then eat from Behemot which are inhumanely slaughtered in a “dog fight” with the Leviatan, which the righteous will watch as part of their reward for not watching “dog fights” and the like in this world?

There is a very deep and important lesson to learn from this medrish based on the Yidei Moshe. That is, that Hashem created the mitzvos in order to emulate Him and refine ourselves in this world for preparation for the next world, as the Mesillas Yesharim in fact continues in the beginning of the first chapter: “but the path to the object of our desires is this world, as our Sages of blessed memory have said, ‘This world is like a corridor to the World to Come’ (Pirkei Avos 4:21).” That is, the whole purpose of Hashem creating the Torah, the blueprints of creation of this world, and the guidebook to life in this world. Ultimately however, Hashem created the Torah, and he can do whatever he wants; He is not bound by His Torah. He only said to emulate Him for how He runs existence in this world; but ultimately He knows what is best in the Next World. Therefore, what he forbids us to watch in this world (such as animal fights, which are in fact cruel and inhumane), will be totally permissible and indeed a reward for the righteous to watch and partake in, in the World to Come – under Hashem’s jurisdiction. So too the non-kosher fats or non-kosher slaughtering which is forbidden in this world and is detrimental to our spiritual health will be permitted and given as a reward for the righteous in the Next World; but, again, under Hashem’s jurisdiction – because he knows how to make and serve it in the most perfect of ways.

Tzav – The Joy of a Wedding

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Yirmiyahu, in the haftorah for the Torah portion of Tzav, warns of the imminent destruction of the first beis hamikdash and the desolation that will take place in Yerushalayim and its surrounding areas if the Jewish people won’t repent. One of the things he says in the name of Hashem is: “I will suspend from the cities of Yehuda and the streets of Yerushalayim the sounds of joy and the sounds of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride; for the land will become ruin” (Yirmiyahu 7:34). The Radak says on this Pasuk that in place of a voice of joy there will be a voice of lamenting, crying and screaming. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

To put into perspective the joy of a wedding and marriage in general, the Yalkut Shimone on this Pasuk quotes a Gemara in Brachos daf 6b: “And Rebbe Chelbo said in the name of Rav Huna, anyone who benefits from the banquet of a bridegroom and does not gladden him violates the five “sounds” as it is stated, ‘The sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the sound of the groom, and the sound of the bride, the sound of people saying, praise Hashem, Master of Legions’ (Yirmiyahu 33:11). And if he does gladden the bridegroom what is his reward? Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi said, he merits the Torah which was given with five “sounds” as it is stated, ‘On the third day when it was morning, there were sounds and lightning, and a heavy cloud on the mountain, and the sound of the shofar etc. “The sound of the shofar etc.” And G-d would respond to him with a sound’ (Shemos 19:16,19)… Rebbe Abahu said it is as if he brought a thanksgiving offering as it is stated, ‘they bring thanksgiving offerings to House of Hashem. Rebbe Yochanan (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchok) said, it is as if he built up one of the ruins of Yerushalayim as it says ‘For I will return the captivity of the land as at first, said Hashem’ (Yirmiyahu 33:26).”

The Iyun Yaakov on this Gemara says that the five “sounds” could be referring to the five qualities mentioned in Yevamos of a Jew without a wife who is living without joy, blessing and goodness. And those in Israel add: without Torah and without a wall [to protect from sin]. Representing these five acquisitions acquired upon getting married are the five sounds of joy. Indeed, Rabba bar Ulla added a sixth acquisition of peace, which we can actually say was included in the Torah, as it is written: “Hashem gives power (referring to Torah) to his nation, Hashem will bless his nation with peace” (Last pasuk in Tehillim perek 29).(Click here for Hebrew text.)

But out of all the examples of joy the prophet could have picked to express the direness of the situation, why did he pick  a wedding, the joy between a bride and her groom? What about the joy and excitement of Torah learning that was raging all over the city? Or the joy and glee of the Simchas beis hashoava that took place in the courtyard of the Beis Hamikdash every Sukkos which the mishna in the beginning of the fifth chapter of sukkah says: “whoever has not seen a simchas beis hashoeva has not seen [true] happiness in their life!”

It would seem that the most impressionable joyfulness that people relate to is of a wedding between chasson and kallah.

(They just didn’t have Purim yet…just joking;))

Vayikra – Being Attuned With Our Soul

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This week we start reading the third book of the Torah, Vayikra. Most of the book discusses the various sacrifices offered on the alter. One of them is the korban chatas, the sin offering, brought for transgressing most types of sins by accident. The fourth perek of Vayikra begins: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a soul sins unintentionally [by committing one] of all the commandments of the Lord, which may not be committed, and he commits one of them” (Vayikra 4:1, 2).

The Medrish Tanchuma wonders why the Torah uses the word “a soul” and not “a person” who sins unintentionally. It writes: “Therefore Hashem says to Moshe, ‘speak to the Children of Israel saying, if a soul unintentionally sins,’ the soul is the sinner. The pasuk says, ‘The place of judgement, there is the wickedness, and the place of righteousness, there is the wicked’ (Koheles 3:16). The soul which was given from righteousness in a place where there is no sin or transgression, and she sins against Hashem? The pasuk is in wonder, ‘if a soul sins unintentionally’?! ‘And the place of righteousness, there is the wicked,’ what is this analogous to? To two people, one is a city dweller and one is a minister of the king, both of them do something illegal against the king. They are taken to court and both were found to be doing same illegal act. What does the king do? He pardons the city dweller and sentences the minister. The other ministers of the king ask him, ‘If they both broke the same law why was the city dweller pardoned and the minister sentenced?’ The King responded, ‘I pardoned the city dweller because he doesn’t know the ways of the monarchy. But the minister is with me every day and knows exactly how I run the monarchy so the one who directly goes against me personally deserves to be punished.’ So to, the body is like the city dweller, ‘And the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground’ (Breishis 4:7), and the soul is the minister of The King from on high, ‘and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life’ (Breishis 4:7), and both sinned. Why? Because it is impossible for the body to be without a soul. If there is no soul there is no body and if there is no body the soul does not sin. This is why He pardoned the body and sentenced the soul, as it says, ‘The soul that sins, it shall die’ (Yechezkel 18:20). Therefore the pasuk is surprised, if a soul sins unintentionally [by committing one] of all the commandments of the Lord?!” (Medrish Tanchuma, parshas Vayikra paragraph 6.)

The Etz Yosef, referring to the comparison of the soul to a minister of the king, adds that a soul comes from the sanctuary of the King On High and knows the laws of His kingdom which is the Torah that was taught to him or her before him or her came to this world That what the medrish says in the parable that “every day he is with me;” it means that the soul goes up to heaven every night and reports on what the person did that day, and according to the soul’s merits it gets to see what is in heaven and Hashem teaches the soul. Therefore, even if he sins by accident, he is punished as if it was done on purpose, since the accident of a learned man is considered on purpose as the medrish says later on. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

The Etz Yosef says over there that a learned sage who transgresses a sin by accident is punished as if he did it on purpose, because he should have been more careful. That is why the pasuk asks in wonderment: ‘if a soul sins unintentionally;’ how could it be, since it comes from on high and knows all the rules of the Torah, and still it sins?!

The Medrish is saying that the soul is held responsible for sinning and, at least initially (as seen later in the medrish), the body is exonerated because the soul is fully aware of the laws of the King and the severity of consequence if it breaks the law. The Daas Zekeinim has a mirror-image commentary to the Medrish on the above pasuk, but with a different message: that the soul knows how much good Hashem does because he was up there with Him. Either way, the soul is held more responsible for sinning, either because of a greater love for Hashem or out of fear of Hashem and His Torah.

However, in practicality, why should this make sense? The reality is that the body, with all its physical desires and magnetic attachment to this world, is really the force which caused the sin, as alluded to by the medrish itself. The soul is thrown into the body by Hashem against its will and is expected to take control of the body as he or she grows up; why should the soul initially take full responsibility? Not only that, but it seems trapped in this body, not wanting to be a part of this lowly physical world. If the body wouldn’t be there, the soul would not have sinned since it is so pure, a tzelem Elokim [created in the image of G-D]! Why is it the soul’s fault?! Essentially the soul is at the whim of the body, so just as the body is innocent, why not pardon the soul? Furthermore, even if you say like the Etz Yosef that the soul goes up to heaven and has a chance to review with Hashem the Torah each day after he or she already learned it from an angel in its mother’s womb, the reality is that upon awakening on this earth, we are no longer attuned to that; so why be held accountable?

The answer is that we have the ability to be attuned to our soul. By delving into the depths and breadth of Torah and mussar (specifically mussar bihispa’alus, emotionalizing what we intellectually know by bridging the gap between our mind and heart.) we can be attuned to our soul and be careful not to sin. A righteous sage does just that, which is why the medrish says he is culpable for accidents as if they are done on purpose, because he should have been more careful. This also could be why a tinok shenishba, one who is totally ignorant of Torah, is exempt from heavenly punishment for his misdeeds in this world, since he was not in tune with his soul, and wasn’t even given a chance to be in tune with his soul to begin with.

Since the Torah is the guidebook for mankind it is obvious that it is more beneficial to be attuned with our soul as much as possible instead of being ignorant we just have to constantly be sure we are actively trying to strive to take the proper steps and care to avoid making mistakes.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Dovid Shmuel Milder

Pekudei – Doing What is Right

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The conclusion of the Book of Shemos, the Torah portion of Pekudei, concludes the making of the Mishkan. The Haftorah, appropriately talks about the finishing touches in the building of the Beis Hamikdash by King Shlomo. The Haftorah begins, “And all the work that king Shlomo had wrought in the house of the Lord was finished. And Shlomo brought in the things which Dovid his father had dedicated; the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, (and) put them in the treasuries of the house of the Lord” (Melachim Aleph 7:51).

The Ralbag on this pasuk says something quite astonishing! “We learn from this juncture that Shlomo made the Great House solely from his own earnings and all the things his father Dovid sanctified [for the construction of the Beis Hamikdash] he put into the treasure houses of the House of Hashem. It would seem for this reason he did not start the building as soon as he became king, rather he started it in the fourth year of his reign, as was mentioned earlier. He did this in order to build it with his own earnings, and not use from the treasuries of his father, Dovid, which he [Dovid] sanctified to Hashem. This is as if he did exactly what Hashem had intended just as He didn’t want Dovid to build it for he spilled many people’s blood [in wartime], so too He did not agree that it should be built with all the spoils Dovid collected from the non-Jewish nations during the war. However Shlomo who was a man of peace, and all the money he collected was done peacefully, with him did Hashem choose to build it from the money of peace that he collected.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

G-D forbid we can’t think that King Dovid did anything wrong in fighting the wars. On the contrary the gemara says in Sanhedrin 20b: It has been taught: “R. Yose said: Three commandments were given to Israel when they entered the land; [i] to appoint a king; [ii] to cut off the seed of Amalek; [iii] and to build themselves the chosen house [i.e. the Temple] and I do not know which of them has priority. But, when it is said: The hand upon the throne of the Lord, the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation,  we must infer that they had first to set up a king, for ‘throne’ implies a king, as it is written, Then Shlomo sat on the throne of the Lord as king.  Yet I still do not know which [of the other two] comes first, the building of the chosen Temple or the cutting off of the seed of Amalek. Hence, when it is written, And when He give you rest from all your enemies round about etc., and then [Scripture proceeds], Then it shall come to pass that the place which the Lord your God shall choose, it is to be inferred that the extermination of Amalek is first. And so it is written of Dovid, ‘And it came to pass when the king dwelt in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies round about, and the passage continues; that the king said unto Nathan the Prophet: See now, I dwell in a house of cedars etc.’”  (Click here for Hebrew text.)

We see from here that one of the prerequisites and mitzvos in order to build the Beis Hamikdash is to fight wars in order to solidify the Jewish acquisition of the land and Kind Dovid accomplished just that!

Furthermore we find that the Beis Hamikdash was in fact attributed to Kind Dovid for all the mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice he put into building it. The Medrish says, “The Holy One Blessed Be He does not withhold reward from any of his creatures, any time a person works hard and gives of his whole soul towards the matter, The Holy One Blessed Be He does not withhold his reward. You should know this for Shlomo built the Beis Hamikdash as it says, ‘And Shlomo built the house and finished it’ (Melachim Alef 6:14). Yet because Dovid gave his whole soul over the building of the Beis Hamikdash as it says ‘Remember, O Lord, onto Dovid all his affliction etc. That I shall not come into the tent of my house etc. I shall not give sleep to my eyes etc. Until I find a place for the Lord etc.’ (Tehillim 132:1-5). And so The Holy One Blessed Be He did not withhold his reward rather He wrote it in his name ‘A psalm; a song of dedication of the House, of Dovid’ (Tehillim 30:1). It doesn’t write ‘to Shlomo,’ rather ‘to Dovid’” (Medrish Rabba parshas Naso 12:9). 
In order to be allowed to build the Beis Hamikdash a king had to reign over Israel and the defeat of Amalek in war had to happen. King Dovid made sure that happened. Not only that but Dovid poured his whole essence into building the Beis Hamikdash. He put his blood, sweat and tears, and even his money into ensuring it will be built everything short of actually building it, (which Hashem told him he can’t,) to the extent that King Dovid got rewarded with the building being named after him. So why couldn’t his son just use the hard earned money that was sanctified and specifically set aside for the Beis Hamikdash by his father? It was King Dovid’s dream, his prayers, his hard earn spoils; at least allow something to be physically used towards The House of Dovid?

We learn from here, and this the Ralbag said Hashem acquiesced with Shlomo, that no matter how much love and devotion, well-meaning and holy, proper intent one has, if it is inappropriate to be included it is inappropriate and there are no exceptions.

King Dovid’s whole life was dedicated towards building the Beis Hamikdash but Hashem didn’t allow him because he had blood on his hands, albeit mitzvah blood, yet a resting place of Hashem’s Presence, the holiest place on Earth, would not be befitting to be built by blood stained hands so his son King Shlomo, a man of peace, even etched in his name, was given the right to build it. Not even King Dovid’s fortune that he earned from war which he made holy and donated to the building was allowed to be used, because what is right is right and no exceptions are made, no matter how dedicated and self-sacrificing one is, even if he did nothing wrong as we see he was rewarded for his efforts by the Beis Hamikdash being called in his name, Beis Dovid, yet he could not physically be involved in the actual building in any way shape or form.

Ki Sisa – How to Deal With Adolescence

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There is a negative character trait called קשי עורף, meaning literally: “stiff necked;” obstinate or stubborn. Before one says vidui [confessions of sins], he or she says: “…for we are not so brazen and obstinate as to say before you, Hashem, our G-D, and the G-D of our forefathers, that we are righteous and have not sinned – rather, we and our forefathers have sinned.” It sounds from here that it might even be delusional. This negative trait is then mentioned as one of the confessions of vidui, קשינו ערף, we have been obstinate.

In this week’s Torah portion of Ki Sisa we have the infamous episode of the Sin of the Golden Calf. When looking through the pesukim one will find that the underlying problem was this very trait, that the Jewish people were a stiff necked nation, עם קשה עורף. The Ibn Ezra defining what that means says: “That he will not listen to what was commanded of him just like a person who is walking down the street and doesn’t [even] turn his head when a person calls him.” The Sforno expounds on the extent of this stiff-necked obstinacy by saying: “Their neck is like an iron sinew and they will not turn to listen to the words of any righteous teacher in any manner; hence there is no hope that they will repent.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

How does one deal with this kind of people, especially a father who has to deal with a son with that type of attitude? Our Father, our King knew how to deal with His children, and there is a lesson that can be learned in this circumstance, when analyzing each time Hashem mentions “a stiff necked nation” in this Torah portion.
Rav Saadia Gaon usually has a very terse commentary, more of an explanation of various words in the Torah. But in this case he had a few extra words to say, and based on his explanation of the pesukim there is a formula we can follow to deal with such a negative nature.

While Moshe Rabbeinu was still on the mountain after Hashem gave him the first tablets and while the Sin of the Golden Calf was taking place, “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘I saw this nation and behold they are a stiff necked nation. And now leave me, and I will flare up my anger at them and destroy them, and make you into a great nation’” (Shemos 32:9, 10). Rav Saadia Gaon explains that Hashem is saying “I know from before that this nation is a stiff necked nation, and now if you cease from praying on their behalf, I will get angry at them and destroy them.”

Step one
of “dealing with them” was to recognize the underlying problem. The issue was not the actual Sin of the Golden Calf; the real issue was their stubbornness. Step two was to have someone pray on their behalf to make sure no drastic measures would be taken by Hashem. Prayer always helps.

After that Moshe went down the mountain and smashed the tablets, destroyed the Golden Calf, and killed everyone directly involved with it. Then Hashem decrees aboutthe Jewish people, in pasuk 35, that they shall die before their original decreed time. After that Hashem says He is willing to bring their survivors into the land of Canaan to inherit it as was promised to their forefathers, but that He will no longer lead the way. Rather, an angel was placed in charge in His stead, driving out the Canaanite nations. The pasuk says the reason for this is because “to the land flowing with milk and honey, for I will not go up amongst you since you are a stiff necked nation, lest I will destroy you on the way.” Rav Saadia Gaon contributes as well by saying that Hashem is telling them: “For I will not bring up my honor (The Holy Presence) amongst you.” At this point the nation as a whole recognized how grave of a mistake they had gotten themselves into, and they took off their jewelry as a sign of mourning that the Shechina, Hashem’s Holy Presence, refused to be amongst them, and that He instead was going to send an angel to guide them on their journey to the Holy Land, as clearly stated in pasuk 4. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

In pasuk 5, “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Tell the Children of Israel, you are a stiff necked nation, one second I will be amongst you and I will destroy you, and now you shall take off your jewelry and I will inform you what I will do to you.” Didn’t Hashem just tell them He cannot be amongst them lest He will come to destroy them since they are obstinate? Also, they had already taken off their jewelry of their own fruition; why did Hashem tell them to take it off again?

At this point Rav Saadia Gaon elaborates a bit and says that Hashem is telling them because you are a “stiff necked nation, and if I would bring My honor to dwell amongst you I would destroy you in a second, and now leave your jewelry off indefinitely until I will inform you what I shall do with you.” Hashem is telling Moshe to inform the Jewish People that as a consequence of them still having this negative trait of being stiff necked and stubborn, even though we see that they were starting to feel remorse, as demonstrated by the fact that they took off their jewelry, but Hashem, being able to look deep into the heart of every living being, saw the negative trait still swelling up inside, not completely gone. He therefore told them that it was too dangerous to rest His Shechina amongst them because he did not want to harm them if they acted in a way that in fact deserve it. And indeed, they should continue to stay in that state of remorse, keeping their jewelry off, until otherwise informed. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

This seems to be step 3 in how to deal with someone so stubborn and obstinate. After pinpointing the underlying problem, and asking someone to pray on their behalf, you have to knock some sense into the person. Show them the consequences of their attitude; get them to start thinking about what is wrong with the way they are acting, and start feeling remorse. Then, step 4, once the individual is starting to quake in their boots, show them that you are in control and that they should continue feeling guilty for what they did until further notice.

Moshe then went back up to the top of Har Sinai to chisel out the second set of tablets and prayed to Hashem on the Jewish people’s behalf without eating or sleeping for forty more days and nights. During that time Hashem taught him His 13 attributes of Mercy. Then “Moshe rushed to prostrate himself on the ground bowing, and he said ‘If you please find charm in your eyes, Hashem, please Hashem walk amongst us, for they are a stiff necked people and you should forgive our iniquities, and our sins, and secure us as your possession” (Shemos 34:8, 9). Rav Saadia Gaon explains that Moshe was advocating to Hashem on the Jews behalf and including himself amongst them, beseeching Hashem to rest His honor amongst us and choose us. Hashem finally responds positively: “And He said: “Behold! I will form a covenant; in the presence of all your people, I will make distinctions such as have not been created upon all the earth and among all the nations, and all the people in whose midst you are shall see the work of the Lord how awe inspiring it is that which I will perform with you. Keep carefully what I am commanding you today: Lo! I will drive out from before you the Amorites and the Canaanites, the Hittites and the Perizzites, the Hivvites and the Jebusites” (Pesukim 10 and 11). (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)

The fifth step of dealing with someone who is stiff necked is to have someone else advocate for them, on their behalf, since they themselves are still too stubborn to completely repent and mend their ways. Finally, step six, is to accept who they are, and that they are still your son, as Rav Saadia Gaon points out in pasuk 10, Hashem acknowledges “there is no one created like them in the whole entire world” and though they still have this negative trait etched inside them, and it is possible it will surface again (as it did), still in all, His children are worthwhile to keep and be amongst. They are not worth trading in for anything in the world, and He invested so much in them with all the miraculous wonders, so why give up on them?

This should be a lesson for all of us if we have a child who is rebellious and refuses to listen to his or her parents. We must first acknowledge the underlying issue, start praying for the child’s welfare or have someone else pray for their welfare on your behalf. But you must then confront the child and show him or her who is boss, let them sweat and think about the consequences of their actions and viewpoints. However you must also seek a third party vantage point to advocate for the adolescent on his or her behalf in order to defend them and arouse mercy and compassion. Finally, acknowledge that they might not be perfect but they are the best children we have and should never be exchanged for anyone else.

Who knows, it might make an incredible impression on the child. Look what happened to the Children of Israel. They saw how much Hashem loved and cared about them and they reciprocated by donating their wealth for the construction of the Mishkan in order so that Hashem’s Shechina will rest amongst them and guide them. The underlying attribute might not have been completely annihilated but was severely subdued and only cracked the surface again far and between.

Vayakhel – Seeing Hashem’s Kindness in Everything He Does

In accordance with the doctrine of free will, “R. Eleazar said: From the Torah, the Neviim (Prophets) and the Kesuvim (Writings) it may be shown that one is allowed to follow the road he wishes to pursue” (Makkos 10b). Rashi on that piece explains that ‘the way you wish to travel [Hashem will allow it whether for good or for bad].’ Rashi explains in the pesukim of the Kesuvim where the gemara quoted a pasuk in Mishlei: “If he is of the scorners, he will [be allowed to] speak scorn” (Mishlei 3:34), that if a person wants to associate with scoffers, Hashem will not stop him or her. We see from here that Hashem allows us free choice; he doesn’t actively help us, at least on the wrong path, but he passively allows us to make mistakes if we want. Hashem, though, does help us try to find the right path when we are searching for it. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
For example, there is a Ramban by the mitzvah of teshuva [repentance] that says that one who comes to purify himself, Hashem will help him (See Chidushei HaLev Devarim 30:6, page 175).

In a similar vein, the Chovos HaLevavos at the beginning of the Gate of  Trust in Hashem says: “Among its benefits to him in religious life is tranquility of soul in reliance of Hashem, may He be exalted, just as the servant is bound to rely on his master. For if a person does not put his trust in Hashem, he places his trust in what is other than Hashem; and whoever trusts in what is other than Hashem, Hashem removes His providence from him and leaves him in the hands of whatever he trusts in.” The Lev Tov adds that one who has complete trust in Hashem has no worries whatsoever, and it is impossible to be free from any worries unless one trusts in only Hashem. For if not for this trust in Hashem, he would have to trust in other people, who are finite and imperfect like him, or he would have to trust in himself, his wealth, brains, or strength, or the like, all of which have their fallacies and reasons to be worried. But with Hashem, who is all knowing, and is by definition completely good and kind, as well as omnipotent – there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Yet if the individual is not holding on a level of complete trust in Hashem, Hashem removes His focus of security on that person, and allows that person to trust in whatever he feels most comfortable with. This is because a person must always trust in something, but it is at the risk of it being in the hands of mere mortals. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion of Vayakhel, the Rabbeinu Bachye observes that the first pasuk says: “These are the things that Hashem has commanded to do them” (Shemos 35:1). Then in the next pasuk Hashem says: “Six days work shall be done for you.” This is coming to teach us that the  work on the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was commanded by Hashemto be done for six days during the week but not on Shabbos, for work on the Mishkan did not push off Shabbos. The reason why the pasuk says “work shall be done for you” and not “you shall do work” is to show us the lesson that when the Jews do the will of Hashem their work will be done for them by others. And when they don’t do His will, they will do their own work, but not only that, but the work of others will be done by them as well. This is based on a Mechilta in the beginning of Ki Sisa and summarized in the Mechilta in the beginning of Vayakhel. The Rabbeinu Bachye concludes that when the Mechilta says “You will do it” it implies even [jobs of] others as well. (Click here for Hebrew text)

There seems to be a common thread going through all the above quoted Chazals, that being, that if one fully embraces Hashem with complete trust, and is completely doing Hashem’s will, then he is in Hashem’s “hands;” he has no worries; everything will get done for Him while he is doing Hashem’s will, and Hashem will help Him stay on the right path. However, consequently, if one decides to take their own path, or trusts in something or someone other than Hashem (and this implies even a slight varying from complete trust in Hashem), then he compromises this foolproof protection plan which he had with Hashem. He then has to rely upon who and what he decided to trust in, albeit this might vary in degrees depending on the correlation of trust in Hashem and others. This can also be applied to doing the will of Hashem, for if one deviates, even ever so slightly, from Hashem’s will, he then has to start fending for himself, and not only that, he might even be forced into taking on other people’s work as well, presumably all within various levels, depending on how far off or how close one stays to doing Hashem’s will. The Maharsha illustrates this concept by the Gemara in Sanhedrin 99b which says: “R. Eleazar said: Every man is born to toil, as it is written, ‘Because man is born to toil’ (Iyov 5:7). Now, I do not know whether to toil by mouth or by hand, but when it is said, for his mouth crave it of him, I may deduce that toil by mouth is meant.  Yet I still do not know whether for toil in the Torah or in [secular] conversation, but when it is said, ‘This book of the Torah shall not depart out of your mouth’ (Yehoshua 1:8),  I conclude that one was created to labor in the Torah.” The Maharsha there says that the gemara originally thought that one must work because any set time of Torah learning which isn’t accompanied by a job will in the end  fall apart. However the Maharsha explains that the gemara concludes that one does not need a job, rather as mentioned in Brachos 35a, the original righteous people had Torah learning as their job, and any work they needed would be done for them by itself (somehow or another), and this was how creation from the beginning was meant to be (there is a medrish that states that before the sin, Adam was lying on a couch basking in Hashem’s Holy Presence and angels feeding him fruit). This was until Adam sinned and was punished with “the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread.” We see clearly that in an ideal world, where everyone is doing the will of Hashem to the utmost degree, everything will get done for them.

However, the reality is that we are not perfect, yet Hashem still showers us with kindness, even when we are doing the wrong thing. For example, it use to be in the times of the Beis HaMikdash if a person did a sin by accident he was able to receive atonement by bringing a sin-offering which is an animal brought as a sacrifice instead of him. If he did it on purpose, he was still showered with kindness,  depending on the severity of the sin he might have to pay back the victim, for example if he stole, and in that case  Hashem even rewards him with a mitzvah for returning the stolen object, or he might get lashes or even the death penalty, but all these are atonements which will help cleanse his soul before getting into the World to Come where he will bask in the Presence of Hashem, farther or closer, brighter or dimmer, depending on how many mitzvos one did and the quality or effort he put into them. Even if he does not get the atonement in this world, and he must suffer punishment in the next world, G-D forbid, it is still a kindness Hashem does, because Hashem is bleaching out all the sin and filth one stained his soul with in this world in order to be ready to receive his reward in the Next World.

Even Hashem letting us lead our life according to what we choose for good or for bad is a kindness because if we are not ready to fully embrace Hashem, he doesn’t force us and he wants us to find His way on our own, when we are ready, albeit dropping us hints to return to Him all the time. So to by allowing us to be able to trust in other things if we aren’t on the level to fully trust in Him is a kindness because granted we are left in the hands of mere mortals but at least we have something to trust in. Imagine having nothing to trust in and just groping for thin air because one isn’t ready to fully trust in Hashem, it would be even more depressing then trusting in anything else other than just Hashem.

However where is the kindness in forcing us to work for ourselves and doing work for others if we don’t completely do His will?

It would seem that there must be some kind of kindness in that as well. The simple understanding of the pasuk in Iyov quoted above, “For man is born to toil,” the Metzudas Dovid says, means that a person was created to work for his food not to take from others that which he didn’t earn or toil for. This means that if a person cannot reach the heights of doing Hashem’s will as described by the Maharsha above, where toiling in Torah and doing His will earns the right for his needs to be automatically taken care of somehow or another, then he must earn his pay some other way. If Hashem would allow him to get his needs without earning it, it would naturally be a tremendous embarrassment, so out of Hashem’s kindness, Hashem made it that if we don’t always do his will then we will have to work for ourselves and others in order to earn our livelihood and not be embarrassed of accepting freebies.

Hashem created this world with pure kindness and sustains it in the same manner, everything, whether it seems good or bad to the human eye is imbued with Hashem’s stamp of kindness in one form or another.

Tetzave – Levels of Peace in the World

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“Shalom, peace, is one of the most exalted character traits in existence, for it is one of Hashem’s names, as it says: ‘And he called to Him Hashem, Shalom’(Shoftim6:24).” The Maalos Hamiddos also says: “Any place peace is found, fear of Heaven can be found, and any place peace cannot be found, fear of Heaven cannot be found” (Maalos Hamiddos, chapter 24, ma’alas HaShalom).

If one Googles the definition of the word peace he will find: peace [pees] NOUN
1. The normal, nonwarring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world.
2. (Often initial capital letter) an agreement or treaty between warring or antagonistic nations, groups, etc., to end hostilities and abstain from further fighting or antagonism: the Peace of Ryswick.
3. A state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations: Try to live in peace with your neighbors.
4. The normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security: He was arrested for being drunk and disturbing the peace.
5. Cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.

Yet Rashi says in this week’s haftorah for the Torah portion of Tetzaveh: “I found the following: The second Aliyah to the Holy Land through Ezra was merited to be like the first entry through Yehoshua, to come about by force and through a miracle, as expounded (Berachos 4a, Shemos 15:16); ‘until…pass.’ This building [of the beis hamikdash] would then have been fit for them as of then, when they emerged from exile, to an everlasting redemption. But their sin caused this not to happen for their repentance was not suitable, i.e. they did not resolve to stop sinning. Therefore, they emerged to freedom only through the sanction of Cyrus and his son.” (Rashi on Yechezkel 43:11) (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)

According to Rashi, the world could have been a totally different place if the Jewish people would have repented 100% and would have decided with complete resolve to not sin ever again; Moshiach would have come. It would seem that the dimensions of the beis hamikdash would have been different than the way in which the second beis hamikdash was actually built. The dimensions described in Yechezkel, the Radak and others say, were that of the third beis hamikdash, may it come speedily in our days. But, in fact, if Moshiach would have come and this would have been the final, perfected version of mankind, then the architecture of the second beis hamikdash would have been, as Yechezkel describes, the third. The process of returning the Land of Israel would have been different as well; instead of Cyrus and his son peacefully allowing the Jewish people to return to their homeland after 70 years of exile and rebuilding the beis hamikdash, Ezra and the rest of the Jewish people would have conquered the land by force, presumably from the Persians, with open miracles, just as Yehoshua and the Jewish people did when conquering the land back in their day.

If peace is so important that the Mishna in Pirkei Avos says: “On three things the world exists, on judgement, on truth, and on peace” (Avos 1:18), and the Maalos Hamiddos further says: “My son, come and see how great the power of peace is, that even the enemy, Hashem says, one should offer them peace, as it says, ‘When you come close to a city to wage war upon it, and you shall first offer it peace’ (Devarim 20:10),” then why was Hashem ready to take back the Land of Israel by force with miracles in order to set the stage for the final redemption and the coming of Moshiach, if Cyrus and his son were willing to peacefully hand it over to them, as they in fact did?

It would seem that there are two states of peace, which by definition means there are two definitions, or levels of peace. One is a compromise, a state of being where there is officially no fighting, no violence, all is serene and peaceful; but it is not necessarily permanent or guaranteed.

However, Hashem in His Divine understanding and with ultimate goals, has another peace in mind, one which we in fact pray for at the end of our Shemone Esrei in Sim Shalom and conclude as we take 3 steps back: “He who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace upon us,and upon all of Israel.” Peace in Hebrew, Shalom, comes from the root ש.ל.מ., complete or full, i.e. perfection. Hashem’s ultimate state of peace is perfection, a time when the entire world will be ready to embrace Him as The Creator of the Universe, King of all Kings, The Holy One Blessed Be He.

It would seem that there are certain times in history when it is more opportune for this state to come about, though it is possible at any moment. One of these times could have been the rebuilding of the second beis hamikdash, but in order for this perfect state to exist, (A) the Jewish People had to have fully committed themselves to a state of perfection, not to sin ever again. (It would seem that at the time they reached a level possibly higher than what was reached at Mount Sinai when they reaccepted the Torah out of pure love of Hashem after the miracle of Purim as it says in Shabbos 88a, but on some tiny, tiny, minute level they must not have fully accepted to not sin ever again, therefore they were not deserving of the ultimate redemption). However, (B) hand in hand with the ultimate redemption and a state of completion in the world, everyone else, all the non-Jews would have to be ready to accept this yoke of Heaven, in their own right. It would seem that if Moshiach and a new advent in history was ready to take place then being under the control of the Persians and then being let go back to our home land to rebuild the beis hamikdash would have been a sign of their control and power, with all their viewpoints and ways that would have clashed with the ultimate state of perfection. Therefore, force and miracles would have to have been taken to annihilate any other power and to show the world that Hashem is in reality the only Truth.

It would not seem that Hashem would generally advocate violence; on the contrary, the harmony of everything in nature is run through peace, and order, night, day, land and oceans, stars, planets, galaxies even the angels all need peace in order to be unified and not to collide or swallow up each other, but this is only part of the perfection of the world which Hashem has created. Hashem is waiting for us to join this state of peace and perfection and on the contrary Hashem is very deliberate with His ways and would prefer all of humanity to acknowledge and live by the knowledge of His existence and Oneness but if the time comes and humanity as a whole is not ready to accept perfection then with calculated force and miracles, not brutal violence, Hashem’s greatness will shine and be made clear throughout the entire world, may it come speedily in our days!

Teruma – A Clearer Picture

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In this week’s Torah portion of Teruma we discuss the preparations and blueprints needed to build the Mishkan and the vessels inside. The Aron, the Holy Ark, was placed in the most Holy of Holy part of the Mishkan.

The Rabbeinu Chananel says that the Aron alludes to a righteous sage; his insides [intentions] must be like his outsides [actions], just as the Aron was plated gold on the inside and outside [with a layer of wood in the middle]. Similarly, just as the floor of the Aron was 2.5 amah by 1.5 amah (which is 4 amos squared minus a quarter: 2.5×1.5=3.75), so too a righteous person should limit himself regarding the four foundations of his body and add to his righteousness and good deeds. And just as the height of the entire box enclosure of the Aron was a square of 12 amos [1.5x (1.5+2.5+1.5+2.5) =12] because the long walls were 7.5 amos [1.5x (2.5+2.5) =7.5] and the wide walls were 4.5 amos [1.5x(1.5+1.5)=4.5], so too the righteous person should fulfill the 12 conditions spelled out in Tehillim perek 15. A level above a righteous person is a prophet and the covering on the Aron is a hint to the prophets being a level higher than the righteous. Just as the covering was completely gold so too a prophet was completely righteous, as it is written: “All the sayings of my lips are with righteousness” (Mishlei 8:8). The Keruvim on top of the covering were a hint to the angels which are a level above the prophets, and they spread out their wings upward as a hint to the Holy Presence which is a level above the angels, for the angels are the Throne of Honor to accept the Honorable Holy Presence. And this is what is written: “[turned] toward the ark cover shall be the faces of the Keruvim” (Shemos 25:20). The Keruvim [Angels] would look downward towards the covering of the Aron and they were not permitted to look up, for Hashem is above everything as it says: “which is called a name, the name of the Lord of Hosts who dwell upon the Keruvim [being] upon it” (Shmuel Beis 6:2). (Click here for Hebrew text.)

It seems that all the components of the Aron HaKodesh were designed to be a lesson and reminder for tzadikim on how to act and what they represent. There is also a reminder for all of us about the levels of spirituality and holiness: tzadik-prophet-angel-Hashem.

However, what seems perplexing is that the Aron was always kept in the Kodesh HaKodashim, Holy of Holies, and was rarely seen by anyone throughout history; so how could it have been a reasonable reminder for the righteous on how they should represent themselves and act? What is the point of making such a thing for this purpose? Why is it any better to make it with these exact dimensions to teach these hints than for the tzadik to develop his righteousness through learning mussar sefarim [books on character development], taking classes on how to be a better person, and putting into practice what he has learned and developed? The Mussar sefer, Mesillas Yesharim [Path of the Just], is a perfect example of how to master righteousness one level at a time. It is based on a Braisa of Pinchas ben Yair in Avoda Zara 20b. If a person does master each levels in the sefer he is guaranteed to become a great tzadik and will be a level immediately below prophesy. If this is true, what then does the Aron HaKodesh add, especially if it is not seen by too many tzadikim? Seeing is better than hearing about something only if you actually see it; but if you can’t see it, what impact would it have on a person? And if so, why did Hashem go out of His way to create something with specific dimensions and looks in order to be a reminder if it is not a practical reminder?

The answer must be that even if very few tzadikim saw the Aron Kodesh, simply by knowing it is there and what it represents, or learning about how it is made and why it was made in that fashion, adds to the understanding and feeling of needing to live up to that level of righteousness. Meaning, even though they might never have seen the Aron Kodesh and therefore don’t have an actual physical reminder of what they stand for, the very knowledge of its existence, and the mental picture it forms in their minds can have a great impact or adds more to the impact than just learning about how to be a righteous person. The picture in their minds adds more of an impetus to act in the proper way than merely learning about how to act in the proper manner.

So too, for us, the picture in our minds or even in textbooks of the Aron, with the curtain on top, and the keruvim looking down and not up, can bring us to a greater and clearer realization of levels of spirituality and holiness, if we ponder it. A whole new level of understanding and belief in Hashem could be reached which would not have been as clear to us if the Aron HaKodesh and its components would not have been made in the fashion that it is to represent.

Mishpatim – “Him who is Gracious to the Poor”

The mitzvah to give a loan to a fellow Jew in need comes from Devarim 15:8, “Rather, you shall open your hand to him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking.” However, in this week’s Torah portion of Mishpatim, the Torah gives an additional instruction, when one does give a loan to his fellow Jew on how not to do it: “When you lend money to My people, to the poor person [who is] with you, you shall not behave toward him as a lender; you shall not impose interest upon him” (Shemos 22:24).
Based on this pasuk, “When you lend money…” The Medrish Tanchuma says “This is what is meant when it says “He who increases his riches with usury and interest gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor” (Mishlei 28:8). How does this happen? If a Jew needs a loan and then a non-Jew comes and asks for a loan. If he says it is better to lend to a non-Jew and charge interest then to lend to a Jew and not charge interest, and by doing so becoming wealthier, to that King Shlomo screams ‘He who increases his riches with usury and interest’. ‘Gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor,’ refers to Eisav. Was Eisav really gracious to the poor, wasn’t he oppressive to the poor? Rather what this means is that the government will hear about the usury and interest, and challenge him over his rights to it, then take his money and build from it buildings for the need of the country, bathhouses, and structures made out of pillars and canopies to stroll under in order to protect the public from sun, rain, and to direct clear breeze to cool people down. All this for the need of the country and those who pass through and return into the country and that is what’s meant by ‘gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor’ (Medrish Tanchuma, parshas Mishpatim, paragraph 19). (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Though this Jew did not transgress the prohibition of charging interest to a fellow Jew, but he still did not fulfill the mitzvah of giving a loan to a fellow Jew, a brother in need, in order to make an extra buck by lending to a non-Jew. For this reason, measure for measure, Hashem does not allow the money he earned to stay in his hands rather it is collected by “him who is gracious to the poor,” meaning Hashem causes this person to be stricken with poverty by flesh and blood because it is the nature of the government to punish him and confiscate his wealth in order to be gracious to the poor. (See the Bi’ur Ha’Amarim on this medrish.

The Jew in this case was not asked to give up any of his money; a loan must be paid back. Hashem just does not allow him to earn more money at the expense of his fellow Jew when he is in need. We see from here that the result of not lending to a fellow Jew in need, and instead lending to a non-Jew in need just to make money off interest causes the government to have a claim against this person’s wealth and raise his taxes in order to support those who are in need. However, why is this a punishment, why is it any different than giving tzedaka, teruma, maaser, peah, or anything else which the Torah says you must or should give up your personal wealth for in order to support your fellow Jews who are less off then you are?

The difference is that by mitzvos like tzedaka you might be losing money but you are gaining eternal reward, and even in these cases, for example maaser, tithes to the poor, Hashem guarantees if you abide by the mitzvah you will become rich. However if the government collects a large portion of your wealth to give out to the poor and support the infrastructure of the country you don’t get any reward in this world or the next, this is why it could be a punishment.

It would seem that Hashem had in mind ideally for individuals or even private groups like charities or a kupah, to set up systems of distribution to those who are not as well off or in need. There are even rules in maseches Bava Basra 7b-8a about the upkeep of individual cities, their roads, walls, security, etc. These individualized systems are in order for both the giver and recipients to benefit. However the control of government over people’s assets on a major nationwide scale perhaps could be a sign of punishment instead of a way of peacefully sharing the wealth in the world.

Haftorah for Parshas Mishpatim- Hashem Never Gives Up On Our Leaders

Chaza”l in their deep wisdom formulated this week’s haftorah in a backwards way but there is a profound lesson they intended to teach. The haftorah starts with an obvious connection to the beginning of our Torah portion in Mishpatim which discusses owning Jewish slaves. In perek 34 of Yirmiyahu the haftorah begins with the way the Jews treated their fellow slaves in the days of King Tzidkiyahu. For many years they had kept their Jewish slaves, even beyond the 7 years the Torah allows one to keep a Jewish slave involuntarily. Yirmiyahu, warning about the coming doom of the first Beis Hamikdash aroused King Tzidkiyahu to set all the Jewish slaves free and they made a great ceremony commemorating their freedom and a recovenant with Hashem and his Torah after straying from His ways. However this didn’t last long and they took back their Jewish slaves for long periods of time and strayed farther and farther from Hashem until the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash became inevitable.

However the Haftorah concludes with the last two pesukim of the previous perek: “So said the Lord: If not My covenant with the day and the night, that the statutes of heaven and earth I did not place. Also will I reject the seed of Jacob and David, My servant, not to take from his seed rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when I bring back their captivity and have mercy upon them” (Yirmiyahu 33:25, 26). (Click here for an interesting halachic discussion on how we are allowed to go backwards when reading the Haftorah.)

The Mahar”I Kara explains the last two pesukim, “Hashem is saying, If I will not fulfill the covenant I made of guaranteeing that day and night would never stop as it is written, ‘There is still all the days of the land, planting, harvesting, cold, heat, summer, winter, day and night, they never rest.’ If they would rest then it would be as if the laws of heaven and earth would never have existed (meaning the world would cease to exist.)   And as long as the covenant between day and night is fulfilled I will not hold back from the Jewish people the ability to acquire leaders from their own people. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

Just as Hashem guarantees there will always be the cycle of nature and time in the world, the four seasons, day and night and the cycles of vegetation, though sometimes there are massive destructive forces of nature in the world like hurricanes, tsunamis, blizzards, earthquakes, and tornados that disrupt life so to Hashem promised the Jewish people that no matter how corrupt their leaders become He will never exchange them with non-Jewish leaders to lead His people. No matter how far off they might have strayed from Torah ideals, a Jewish leader will always be the preferred choice for the Jewish people. If this one doesn’t work out hopefully the next one will be better but it is without a doubt that even the most righteous gentile will not be a favorable fit to lead the Jews.

This is the message Chaza”l is teaching us in this haftorah when we first read perek 34 of Yirmiyahu and end with the last two pesukim of perek 33, that as big of a mistake the leaders of the Jews made prior to the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash, Hashem still guarantees the Jewish people that the best leaders come from their own people.

Throughout Jewish History and especially throughout our exile, there have always been leaders who keep the Jewish people together. The Gedolei Hador, the leading rabbis in each generation are our guidance and give us hope.