By Yehuda HaKohen
Current participant of our Shalhevet training program for shlichim
The Ramban teaches that HA’AZINU is a Divine song fusing Israel’s past, present and future. It recognizes and expresses the total harmony of Creation to the extent that there become no conflicts or contradictions. Through this prophetic song, Israel is exposed to the ideal vision with which to look at the world – how events in our personal, communal, national and global lives come to fully clarify and enhance one another when viewed through the proper holistic lens.
“Remember the days of yore, understand the years of generation after generation. Ask your father and he will relate it to you, your elders and they will tell you. When the Supreme One gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the children of man, He set the borders of the peoples according to the number of the Children of Israel. For HaShem’s portion is His people; Yaakov is the measure of His inheritance.” (DEVARIM 32:7-9)
These verses constitute the Torah commandment to learn history, which – like any great piece of literature – presents a story that is not only inspiring and dramatic on the surface but also allegorically rich with hidden meaning and deep moral lessons. When approached through a holistic perspective, the study of history reveals a Divine hand guiding events and helps us to recognize ourselves as characters in an incredible story of which HaShem is the Author.
The holy Ohr HaḤaim explains on these verses that the redemption of Israel, which unfolds throughout time, is the inner outline of all human history – the linear map of every significant and seemingly insignificant development in our world. Every major or minor event that occurs – every discovery, every tragedy, every invention and every war – is a point on the map of mankind’s glorious destiny. From the rise and fall of ancient Babylon and Rome to the discovery of electricity and the revolution in France – the players and events take on their true inner significance when viewed through their relationship to Israel’s mission of bringing humanity to the awareness of HaShem.
The greater an undertaking, the more complicated its achievement. Because the Divine plan stretches beyond all of world history, many significant milestones are naturally built into the process. Israel’s redemption is a project of incredible proportions, replete with necessary challenges, crises, setbacks and ultimate triumphs. But when a person is trapped in the mundane details of day-to-day struggle, he often fails to appreciate how individual pieces of the puzzle fit into the overall picture. Great spiritual strength and vision are crucial for seeing that while there is still much to perfect in our current situation, the process of redemption is irrevocably underway.
The miraculous military victories that we have already achieved, along with the Land of Israel bearing its fruits (as promised in Sanhedrin 98b) and the revival of Hebrew as a language used in daily life are only introductions to the magnificent events still ahead. The incredible manifestation of HaShem’s Ideal – expressed through the re-born Hebrew Nation in our land – will shine a light to mankind that leaves no room for darkness. As the High Holiday liturgy conveys, humanity is headed for the great day on which evil will evaporate like smoke and the entire world will come to recognize the Oneness of the Kadosh Barukh Hu.
Everything in this world possesses a unique Divine purpose. And while understanding that all of our challenges are only temporary barriers on the road to full redemption, it is important to recognize the importance of these impediments within the context of a larger epic drama taking place. At the end of the process, the total victory and sanctification will clarify even the disasters and traumas along the way. Man will finally understand how even the terrible calamities of Israel’s exile were necessary in order to bring about the revelation of HaShem as the timeless ultimate Reality without end that creates all, sustains all, empowers all and loves all. We will come to appreciate how every event that took place throughout time came about only in order to reach the pinnacle of history that we are currently approaching – that amazing future goal where all of existence will perceive the total harmony of Creation as existing within – and part of – an infinite Whole. Even that which currently appears negative or extraneous to the story of Israel will be understood as integral parts of our great historic song. The world will finally appreciate how events that always seemed to contradict and conflict will actually come to complement one another in revealing the Divine hand guiding us from the start. And those living in this miraculous generation will realize how fortunate we are for the opportunity to participate in the fulfillment of history’s ultimate goal.
With Love of Israel,