Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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The Hidden Segula

By: Rav Noam Koenigsberg

"He did not view iniquity in Yaakov and did not see sin in Yisrael" (Bamidbar 23:21 ). This verse is recited in our prayers on the great and holy day of Rosh HaShanah. On this day that all living beings are judged, we proclaim the sanctity of the Jewish People and our desire to serve the Creator. We express our belief in the Jewish People that Hashem our G-d is with us even when we rebel against Him. The continuation of the verse "and the teruah of a King is with him (the Jewish People)" is explained by Rashi to signify the love and affection that Hashem bestows upon us.

This belief in the uniqueness (segula) of the Jewish People is a foundation of the Torah, as the Torah states in Sefer Shmot "And you will be for me a segula, distinct from all of the nations". This concept is apparently absent from the 13 principles of faith enumerated by the Rambam. Is the segula of the Jewish People less important than belief in reward and punishment, the uniqueness of the prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu and the resurrection of the Dead? Can the Torah exist without belief in the uniqueness of the Jewish People, our special relationship with the Creator?

I have heard in the name of Rav Soloveitchik of blessed memory, that indeed this concept is included in the central principles of faith. The Talmud Yerushalmi records the argument between Rabi Yehoshua and Rabi Eliezer concerning the redemption. Rabi Yehoshua maintains that the redemption (geula) will definitely occur; it is not contingent upon the repentance (teshuva) of the Jewish People. Rabi Eliezer opines that only teshuva will enable the redemption. The Rambam explicity states that the redemption is contingent upon teshuva (Hilchot Teshuva 7:5).

The following difficulty arises: All the prophets informed us of the future redemption; we are positive that it will arrive. Yet the Rambam rules that the geula is dependent upon our free choice (bechira chofshit). If we decide to adopt the sinful ways of our forefathers (that generated the exile) then Heavan forbid the geula will remain in the realm of dreams without being translated into reality! Indeed, this possibility was referred to by Rabi Yehoshua- "and if the Jewish People do not repent, the geula will never occur?!"

This difficulty is resolved by the Rambam himself in Hilchot Teshuva. "The Torah has assured that ultimately the Jewish People will repent at the end of the exile and will immediately be redeemed as te verse states 'and you will return to Hashem your G-d and He will gather you and return you from amongst the nations.."

There is a limit to the free choice of the community. We are not fit to remain in sin for eternity. The sanctity of the Jewish People remains in a concealed state for a limited period of time. It will ultimately break out, enlighten the true path and return the cast off Jews of our Father in Heaven. Any other result is impossible.

Rav Soloveitchik claims that a Jew who believes in the arrival of the Messiah- that is contingent upon the teshuva of the Jewish People- expresses his belief in the segula of the Jewish People. This segula will manifest itself and lead to the day that we will be sprinkled with pure water, "for Hashem his G-d dwells within him (the Jewish People) and the teruah of the King is with him"


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Balak
Uploaded: 8/31/2005 6:12:33 PM