(הקריאה והקדושה, Sept. 1945, p. 778) - roughly translated from Yiddish.
A deep secret every intelligent person must find interest in concerns the final Jewish Redemption and, particularly, the logistics of departure from the diaspora. Even deniers of our Final Redemption - as per the prophets and sages - really believe Jews will eventually attain some sort of independence in Israel being as a nation among equal nations, but how great a percentage of Jews will depart from their lands of exile, and under what circumstances this will occur - this they know not. Similarly, faithful Jewish believers know not how the Final Redemption will unfold, whether it will arrive suddenly and completely, or slowly and piecemeal. Be this as it may, it's difficult to imagine Jews will evacuate their exiled lands en masse at one time, as happened in the exodus from Egypt.
Elul, the month of penitence, and the prophet Isaiah, in chapter 52, give us an answer to all the above questions, and a precise picture of how the final exit from exile will manifest. Nobody must make the mistake that Isaiah's divine prophecy merely suggests a possible scenario of the future. It is of utmost urgency for every Jew to familiarize himself with this scenario, which is in fact a precise picture of the exodus from exile, and however more quickly and not to forget it for a minute!
Here we will present the facts and let them speak for themselves.
In chapter 52, Isaiah speaks of a time when, in Jerusalem, the tip of the Redemption begins to appear. It will be a time when the Jewish guard will proclaim to the Jewish nation, "Your God reigns!" (!מלך אלקיך); "Your God has taken over the kingdom!" It will be when all the world's nations will marvel at the great, divine help rendered to the Jewish nation (see too the chapter's first half and following chapters).
From this we can easily understand in Eretz Yisroel the Jewish redeemer will suddenly appear and miraculously he will free the entire state , establishing a Jewish kingdom and calling all Jews of the world to come home! Most likely, then, all Jews will be free to leave their domiciles, otherwise it would be foolish to issue them the invitation.
It is this time period for which the prophet instructs us how to respond to the call, and for this reason he paints for us a picture how the exodus will proceed. He tells it to us in two short verses (11,12). Twenty-seven words that contain the entire secret of the Jewish Redemption, the entire program of exodus from exile. It tells HOW we will depart; WHO will depart, and what will happen to those who do NOT depart! This compact, rich content provides the passport without which no Jew can leave without, one every Jew himself will write, knowing precisely what he must write therein.
"כי לא בחפזון תצאו ובמנוסה לא תלכון כי הולך לפניכם ד' ומאספכם אלקי ישראל"
For not in haste will you depart; Nor by flight will will you go; For God goes before you, and the God of Israel gathers you up from behind."
These words seem superficial or practically incomprehensible. First the prophet says "Get out from there" - telling us to leave exile. But then he says we won't be leaving in haste, nor by flight, and we'll have to wait for God who gathers us to lead us out.
And, were we to leave on our own, without waiting for God's lead, then it will anyhow happen slowly, so what sense is there in urging us to "Get out"? And so - how do we get out?
And how does a Jew's impurity or purification relate to a non-hasty departure? "Cleanse yourselves ... for not in haste will you depart" seems to say we can make a hasty exit without cleansing ourselves. And what about those who cleansed themselves already beforehand? Why should these be restrained from a hasty getaway?
The prophet could have just said, "For not in haste will you depart, for God will go before you." Instead, the prophet injected the issue of cleansing as somehow associated with a non-hasty exit!
The meaning of both verses is simple. By "Turn away, turn away", the prophet refers to two types of "turning away". Then he immediately tells what he means by these. The first "turning away" is, "Impurity do not touch". That is, turn away from tangible impurities, as from non-kosher, intermarriage, from family-purity laws, and other corporeal impurities.
The second "turn away" refers to "Cleanse yourselves, carriers of God's vessel". This means turn away from spiritual impurities of the soul. Jews are carriers of a Godly soul; They must therefore turn away from all false ideologies, from all the "isms", from their trust in non-Torah cultures and foreign gods. They must self-cleanse by penitence and a return to Torah and the practice of its mitzvot.
On both these demands the prophet strongly urges the Jews because every Jew will have to satisfy them. His argument is furthermore twofold.
"For not in haste ... will you go". Firstly, the redemption will be a slow one. At the very beginning, only the cleansed ones will be redeemed - those who turned away from both types of impurity. Those NOT YET cleansed will remain behind, getting more time to "return" and to self-cleanse.
Secondly, thereafter, God Himself will take the initiative to gather in the remaining diaspora. This means, He will apply such means that will leave no Jew any other choice but to either self-cleanse or, God forfend, go under! "For God goes before you!" God will stand before you prepared to take in all those cleansed and lead them to join those earlier redeemed - to Eretz Yisroel. "And the God of Israel gathers you up from behind". And behind all those as yet uncleansed in the exile lands, the God of the Jews will do the ingathering. The "God of Israel" means God will gather in those not yet entirely lost to Judaism, those still amenable to persuasive action to come clean. It's self-evident that AFTER God's ingathering, nobody of redeeming value will remain behind. Those who won't want to purify themselves or won't be able to, will perish.
Here then is the deepest secret - the scenario of the Final Redemption, of the new Egyptian exodus from all exile lands. We will have a very bright rejuvenation through wonders and miracles in the liberated Land of Israel, which will be marvelled at by all nations of the world. A difficult situation in all exile lands will be avoidable for all Jews who resolve to repent and thereby become redeemed to a happy life in Eretz Yisroel. A time when a long chain of groups of happy, emigrating Jews, who cleansed themselves of bodily and spiritual impurities to become fit to join a Torah-inspired Jewish collective in the Holy Land. The earlier a Jew self-cleanses of impurities, the sooner he'll be freed from exile and lead into Eretz Yisroel. This will happen with the very last ones, after which no single Jew will remain in exile lands. Israel will of course resist absorbing into itself someone unjustifiably, because blessed God will be the gatherer and the leader of this exodus.
The deep idea of redemption is thus the idea of true penitence, the same that stands behind the the calling of the month of Elul every year - to strive to do penitence. Had all Jews done this sincerely whenever since the Temple's destruction , they would surely have been redeemed. Instead, they could not make up for the great sin for which the destruction occurred. We thus had to wait for redemption to arrive at its own pace, in its due time - which will, according to the prophets, occur slowly. Not all Jews shall be redeemed quickly, together, at one time. Instead it will proceed in groupings, each group redeemed as per their earlier or later decontamination of impurities in body and soul. And the very last group will be forced into it via a heavy dose of needless adversity, God help them.
This year's Elul, taking place in the Era of Redemption, unfolding in its due time now, gives every Jew the best oppotunity to book himself for the front rows among those who will be first redeemed among Jewry, speedily in our days! There are and shortly will be more than enough proof that the Jewish guard will soon herald the redemption officially with the words "Your God reigns!". For those more alert will be privileged to achieve quicker results; "First come, first served!" Those sooner redeemed will be able to claim for generations that they enjoyed this privilege among all the Jews.
Elul calls for penitence. And the prophet warns us that only through penitence can the final redemption arrive; And only via penitence can it be decided who will constitute the first wave of the redeemed, who the following waves and who the last wave. Every Jew can, and will, himself write his own passport and his own position among the camp of the redeemed coming to Eretz Yisroel at Redemption time, soon in our days.
If someone, meanwhile, wants NOT to understand this, it's his own fault and responsibility. But our words are not written only for today; They are meant also, in fact mainly written for near future, when the news of Redemption and the words "Your God reigns" will already be heard by everyone. At least then every Jew will need to know the progress by which Jews are achieving redemption. An Elul-fitting penitence will be the secret of the general redemption and also the secret for being one of the first groups to achieve redemption.
Every Jew must sometimes cleanse himself in body and soul; Even during the redemption process there will be those earlier and later redeemed; But those who will cleanse themselves the last will also join the Redemption as the very last.
And the Days of Redemption will already not have too many Eluls, Amen!