Thursday, August 26, 2010

Revisiting the Challenge Confronted at Mount Sinai, Day 40

The events that led up to the Golden Calf affair we find documented in the Gemora (Shabbos 89a). Briefly, although the Jews disbelieved Moses had died, and insisted whatever Moses said will be - will be, Satan's final ploy succeeded. He showed them the body of Moses in a coffin among the clouds, creating for them this optical illusion. It worked, and most of them were persuaded or silently acquiesced to create the Golden Calf.

The essence of this sin was, that they followed what their eyes perceived rather than what the leader of the generation spoke.

Torah instructs we must heed the words of a Jewish sage, even were he to tell you, "Right is left, and left is right," i.e., even if what he says contradicts what your eyes are telling you (Rashi: Deut. 17, 11). And if to this extent we must obey a sage or judge, obedience to the leader of the generation is that much more certainly mandatory.

The Arizal (Shaar Hagilgulim-Introduction) explains why the last generation in the Era of Exile, in which Moshiach will debut (that's us!), will be the reincarnation of those souls from the generation of Moses who lived and died in the desert. That is to say, our generation of Jews are the same souls who sinned at the Golden Calf event.

Why? Because we have yet to rectify our past behavior by the Golden Calf; We have to withstand the same challenge we were faced with back then; We have to pass the same test that back then we failed.

Maimonides explains how a Jew achieves rectification of a sin he committed (Tshuvah 2, 1). He must confront the same situation he first failed at, but this time pull through with success against this same challenge. This success rectifies the failure suffered in the previous confrontation.

Similarly with our generation. Back then, when "we" failed in the desert, we could not enter The Holy Land, and only the next generation under Joshua's leadership held that merit. This time around, once we pass the same test we faced in the desert, we'll finally rectify that sin and thereby merit the privilege of ushering in and entering into the Era of Redemption.

How do we pass this test this time? By not letting our eyes sway us against the words spoken by the leader of our generation. Like then, Satan sets up for us an optical illusion strongly suggesting our leader has died and his claim that the "redemption has arrived" is a fallacy. We must not be swayed; We must hold fast to the Rebbe's spoken words and trust in them and believe him, despite what our "natural" or "common" senses tell us.

If a critical mass of our brethren holds strong to the Rebbe's prophecy, we'll soon be dancing together with Moshiach in Jerusalem!

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