Book Review: The Dawn of Redemption
BY GOEL JASPER
By Rabbi Yaakov HaLevi Filber
Translated by Rabbi Moshe Lichtman
For anyone who is a student of Aliyah – and I consider myself one – the book titles of note are well-known.
It all begins, of course, with the Tanach. As a friend of mine once said, “If you aren’t clear on the imperative of Aliyah, you haven’t paid attention to Sefer Devarim.” It continues with the Mishnah and Gemara, of course, both of which describe the many mitzvot that can only be fulfilled in the Land. And then we have the medieval authorities like Rambam and Ramban, who debate the status of Aliyah and whether it is a positive commandment or an “uber-mitzvah” upon which many other mitzvot depend. Later on, the Vilna Gaon and many others had much to say about the need for our people to return to the Land.
Modern Aliyah literature falls into two categories. The first group consists of books designed to inspire people to make the big move (such as To Dwell in the Palace, It’s Time to Come Home or Eretz Yisrael in the Parashah: The Centrality of the Land of Israel in the Torah), while the second category seeks to demonstrate, through a thorough reading of classical sources, that G-d is calling us to return to the Land (think Eim Habanim Semeichah or MeAfar Kumi).
When I cracked open Rabbi Moshe Lichtman’s new translation of Rabbi Yaakov Filber’s Ayelet HaShachar, translated loosely as The Dawn of Redemption, I was sure it would be another collection of comments, so to speak, about Aliyah. And it is – but it’s also so much more. It is a book that can only have been written for our generation.
Rabbi Yaakov HaLevi Filber, a student of Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook and founder of Yeshivat Yerushalayim L’Tzeirim (YashLatz), wrote this book over the course of 35 years. Originally written in 1966 as a pamphlet entitled “Kochvei Ohr,” it was expanded several times: following the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War, after the Yamit evacuation and the Lebanon War, and finally, for the last time, after the ingathering of Soviet Jewry to Israel.
Written in five sections – The Land of Israel; The Eternal Nation; Loving All Jews; The Third Return to Zion; and Dawn Has Broken – the entire book is filled with teachings from the Sages on Aliyah and redemption, each section punctuated by the beautiful words of Rav Kook.
In Rabbi Filber’s treatment of The Eternal Nation, he cites Rav Kook on the need to be clear about our people’s unique role in this world: “If we know our greatness, we know our (true) selves; but if we forget our greatness, we forget ourselves. And a nation that forgets its essence is certainly small and lowly. Only by way of forgetting ourselves do we remain small and lowly, and forgetting ourselves is forgetting our greatness…”
While reading these words, I grasped the purpose of this book. It was not written to inspire anyone nor to prove anything, but as a guidebook for the generation – our generation – that Rabbi Filber clearly believes is responsible for completing the process of geulah (redemption).
As I continued to read, page after page, topics like “Love and Rebuke”, “Rebuilding the Nation Through Baseless Love”, and “A Nation that Dwells Alone”, I began to understand what each of us must do to play our individual and collective roles in completing the redemption. The Dawn of Redemption is a must-have for every Jewish home.
One final note: I and many others owe a tremendous debt to Rabbi Lichtman for all of his hard work in bringing critical Israel-related texts, including Ayelet HaShachar, to the English-speaking world. His Eim Habanim Semeichah, An Angel Among Men, A Question of Redemption, What’s the Purpose? and Rise From the Dust, all of which are Rabbi Lichtman’s translations of Hebrew-language classics, play a uniquely important role in strengthening the English-speaking community during this time of redemption. May he continue his holy work as the ingathering of the exiles continues!
Rabbi Lichtman’s books are available at toratzion.com
Goel Jasper lives in Beit Shemesh and is the host of the Return Again podcast.