|Zeev Hatorah-VaEtchanan-The Thorn of Echad|
|Written by Rabbi Shmuel Brazil|
Iran, Lebanon, Gaza and Syria have been and are intensifying in becoming very serious threats to Eretz Yisrael. However, the immediate danger lurking in front of our eyes and what should be on every Yid’s mind is the upcoming event that the Palestinians are planning for this September to petition the General Assembly of the United Nations of which the United States has no veto power, to recognize the State of Palestine as the 196th nation of the world. Declaring a Palestinian state would have many repercussions one of which is that the ½ million or so Yidden living in the West Bank will be declared illegals because they were living in a foreign country in violation of international law. Tens of thousands of Palestinians are planning to storm the borders of Eretz Yisrael in protest. The projected probability is that we will land up killing scores of Palestinians. There is not even a ray of hope that any explanation on behalf of our actions of self defense will find favor in the eyes and ears of the international community, nor will it alter their biased opinion even a hairsbreadth. This is an event that the world has been impatiently waiting for and as usual, the dirty work will be done by others besides themselves. We will be certainly condemned for it which will have an unimaginable devastating ripple effect. We have only one option and that is to turn to and totally depend upon Hashem Yisbarach to protect us from the oncoming onslaught. But in order to do so we must initiate an unprecedented closeness to Him demonstrating that we are willing to make changes and go above our nature to serve Him. By doing so, Hashem will mirror our behavior and He, as well, will tower over the laws of nature and politics and save us from the vultures that are just hovering and waiting to feast on their prey.
What can we exactly do?
In this week’s parsha of Vaeschanan I found an incredible solution and directive to our present crisis which is applicable to every single Yid. The passuk from this parsha that we recite three times a day is “Shemah Yisrael Hashem Elokainu Hashem Echad”. In the Torah the letter dah’les from the last word echad is written enlarged for emphasis. What message is the Torah teaching us by doing so? The Benei Yissaschar answers that we find yet in another passuk that the Torah wrote an almost identical letter also in enlarged form and that is the letter raish in the pasuk “Lo sishtachaveh La’ail achair” – one should not prostrate himself before another deity. The connection between these two enlarged letters are as follows. Since the letters of raish and dah’les can be mixed up due to their similarity of form, the Torah enlarged them in these two words where they also share the same letters of aleph and ches making one more prone to make an almost blasphemous mistake. For if we are not careful reading these two letters, we might accidentally read in the Shemah that “Hashem achair” is another (amongst the deities) in the place of the authentic text which states that Hashem is echad. We can also err by reading the other passuk of do not prostrate yourself to the “ail echad” – the one G-d, instead of to the ail achair - to another deity. To avoid these two severe errors, the Torah went out of its way to enlarge clearly the raish and the dah’ les, so that they should be read and interpreted in their correct pronunciations.
If we were to examine the physical difference between the shapes of these two letters, we will discover that the singular difference between the two is that the dah’les possesses an edge or a kohtz (thorn) on the upper right hand corner and the raish is smoothed out with a curve. Incredibly so, even in the world of gematriah attests to this kohtz as the difference between the two being that קוץ is also gematria the difference between the two 196. Rav Hirsch and many others comment on this subtle difference of the shape of the dah’les and raish by observing that if one slowly begins to chisel and shave off the thorn edge of the dah’les of echad which represents the strict exacting halacha that is Klal Yisrael’s mesorah by always looking for leniencies to bend and smooth out the din, then sooner or later the Torah will be transformed into a different religion from the one he had received, and it will be tantamount to serving an ail achier!!
By adhering to the kohtz of the dah’les which symbolizes the thorn, inadvertently a large part of the day will involve pressures to make the correct choices: to ensure the mitzvah is done properly at the right time with the right measurements, if one’s five senses function within the Torah guidelines, etc.
We daven for Mashiach to hearld in a world where Hashem will be recognized as Echad with a humongous dah’les, void of any possibility of a mistaken raish. Rashi In parshas Vayechi writes that Beekaish Yaakov legalos es Hakeitz that Yaakov sought to reveal to his children the end, the time of the final geulah. Hakaitz is gematriah 195. The geulah will come when it includes (kollel) the finishing touches on the kohtz 196 of Hashem Echad which will be in full view of all the nations of the world. These numbers beg to be a daunting commentary to the immediate danger facing Klal Yisrael in less than a month – the Palestinian State which is the 196th nation. This very frightening event is screaming to us and all of Klall Yisrael wake up! Either we place the kohtz on the dah’les by ridding from ourselves the Raish style of living, or chas veshalom the 196th nation together with the rest of the world will become our kohtz. By accepting upon ourselves to make changes that put us in our discomfort zone for the love of Hashem and then actualizing on these commitments, we are thereby removing ourselves from the thorns of the world.j
This week we just re experienced another Tishah B’av amongst the many of over two thousand years. We beseeched Hashem in the tefillah of Nacheim as we have been doing for centuries on this very day: You destroyed the Beis Hamikdash through fire and You will rebuild it in the future with fire as the passuk says ואני אהיה לה נאם ה' חומת אש סביב ולכבוד אהיה בתוכה I will be to it, the word of Hashem, a wall of fire around …. , The words of נאום ה' seemingly are in the wrong place. Grammatically it would have been more correct to mention “ne’oom Hashem” only after His promise to be a wall of fire and not in the middle of it? The answer might be that our Chacahmim, by placing “neoom Hashem” in the middle did so in order to send all those who still mourn for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash a very clear message. That wall of fire of the future Bayis will be constructed with the very words of Hashem. The explanation is that when Hashem Echad commands us to obey His mitzvos, the command itself should appear in our eyes as a big rigid dah’les with no ifs or buts about it, likened to a wall of fire that we cannot and would not even dare penetrate or climb over (see Rashi on the passuk Devarim 12,17,Chidushei Harim parshas Bereishis on the inyan of Yiras Shamayim). If we will build around us that fiery wall composed of the word of Hashem during these next few weeks by taking upon ourselves even one or two dah’leses in the place of our “smoothies” of raishesis, we can be certain that the thorn of the 196th nation will be eradicated from us.
This promise of protection is hinted in the passuk (Shmos 22,5) כי תצא אש ומצאה קוצים ונאכל גדיש או הקמה או השדה שלם ישלם המבעיר את הבערה If we are mosair nefesh to build that wall of fire with the word of Hashem then it will devour the thorns who are the Palestinians. It will also have the power to destroy the many troops and armies (from the lashon gedud) and all those (politicians, U.N.) who rise up against us (מלשון קום) and it will remove any power and world influence from all those who possess the precious fields ( שדה) that produce oil. With this wall of fire we will see the time when there will be fulfilled in Klal Yisrael (המבעיר את הבעירה) , שלם ישלם the ultimate awaited shelaimus of the revelation of Hashem Echad together with the building of the Third Beis Hamikdash bimehairah veyamainu amen.