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RE'AHThe Miracle Worker
"If there will arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder of which he spoke to you happens, [and he] says, "Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us worship them," you shall not heed the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream; for the Lord, your G-d, is testing you, to know whether you really love the Lord, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord, your G-d, fear Him, keep His commandments, heed His voice, worship Him, and cleave to Him." (Devorim 13:2-5).
From "Chofetz Chaim on the Torah"
This is an incredible scene. Let's go back the time when there were prophets in Klal Yisroel. These prophets were exceptionally holy people who went around giving mussar to the masses. They were renowned darshanim. Suddenly, one of them started preaching that all the Jews should worship idols. What's happening? He has a superlative reputation as a very holy man. He's one of the gedolei hador. Everyone respects him and hang on to every word he says. He announces that G-d spoke to him, and that G-d has commanded the entire Jewish nation to start this new practice - there has to be a change in our religion.
Klal Yisroel is now in a quandary. What do we do? He's one of the gadolei hador. But we've never heard him speak like this before. This is heresy. But he's always been right.
Then he starts performing miracles to support his new sermon. He makes predictions and they come true. Wonders of wonders. How can this guy be wrong?
The possuk states explicitly, don't listen to him. He's a false prophet, a navi sheker. Our job is to remain faithful to Judaism - pure, unadulterated Yiddishkeit.
The question here is obvious. The possuk seems to be telling us that he's really having a prophecy. Heaven is revealing to him that everyone should abandon their faith. He's proving it by performing miracles. Why is Hashem letting him get away with this? Why is Hashem giving him the power to be a miracle worker and convince people to become heretics?
Rashi explains, "for the Lord, your G-d, is testing you [… whether you really love the Lord your G-d]" (verse 4). - [Sifrei; San. 90a]
There will come a time when Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants to test Klal Yisroel. He wants to see if we are really totally devoted to Hashem and the Torah. Apikorsim and other rebels will suddenly obtain the power to perform wondrous and momentous miracles. They will enjoy exceptional success in their worldly and material goals.
When will this nisayon occur? We are witnessing it right now. We know from the Tanach that before the Moshiach comes, Hashem will put Klal Yisroel through extraordinary ordeals. "And I will refine them as one refines silver, and I will l them as one tests gold" (Zechariah 13:9). Before Moshiach comes Klal Yisroel will be assessed to see what kind of Jews we are. He will measure us to see if we will remain truly faithful to Hashem and His Torah. This is obvious from the end of the possuk, "He (the faithful Jew) shall call in My name, and I will respond to him. I said, 'He is My people'; and he shall say, "The Lord is my G-d."
What will be the nature of this ordeal? Hashem will take those Jews who have abandoned Yiddishkeit and elevate them to high-ranking positions. They will have uncanny success. It will be very discouraging for the Torah observant Jews. Seeing these fellows so successful and powerful will be a very difficult scene to ignore. They will be very convincing and influential. Many of the masses will be swayed to their way of thinking.
We must remember that this is really to test us if we will maintain our faith and serve Hashem with a full heart, in spite of the extraordinary success of our enemies and ridiculers. If we maintain our faith, Hashem will love us and save us from our enemies, while regarding the evil-doers He will carry out the possuk, "and destroy the evil from within you."
The last Navi Malachi said, "Then the G-d-fearing men spoke to one another… Those who perform wickedness succeed, Yea, those who work wickedness are built up. Yea, they tempt G-d, and they have, nevertheless, escaped" (3:16). At that time of such religious turmoil those who fear G-d and value His Name will gather together to speak among themselves and encourage each other that what they are witnessing is merely a test. They shouldn't complain about the achievements of the reshoim. If only we stand firm, then He will save us and the geula is very soon.
These prophecies are especially relevant today when we see the success of the reshoim in their schemes to destroy the entire world. In spite of everything, we cannot give up or let our spirits fall within us. Hashem is testing us if we will remain true to the covenant and if we will love him with all our heart.
The Maasai Lamelech remarks that at a gathering of Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva in Vilna to strengthen Yiddishkeit and Torah institutions, one of the Rabbonim opened his remarks with the possuk, "Then the G-d-fearing men spoke to one another…" He interpreted it as meaning that we have an obligation to gather together and make plans to strengthen Yiddishkeit.
When the Chofetz Chaim started his drasha, he mentioned, as an aside, what this Rav had said. The Chofetz Chaim pointed out that the possuk starts with the words, "Then they spoke together…" This implies that this isn't the beginning of the issue. Rather it is the result of what came earlier. Earlier the Navi stated, "Still harder did your words strike Me… You have said, 'It is futile to serve G-d, and what profit do we get for keeping His charge and for going about in anxious worry because of the Lord of Hosts?' And now we praise the bold transgressors. Yea, those who work wickedness are built up. Yea, they tempt G-d, and they have, nevertheless, escaped."
The Navi is telling us that when the reshoim and the brazen rebels escape unharmed and succeed in building up their institutions, only then do those who fear Hashem gather together to talk one to the other. But now is not a time for talk. Now the reshoim are planting their roots and building firm foundations. Now is a time for courageous action. We have to strengthen Torah institutions and Yiddishkeit!
Rav Shach, zt"l, once related (Shimusha Shel Torah, p. 137) that the Chofetz Chaim constantly awaited the coming of the Moshiach. He actually lived the edict, "I await his coming every day." It wasn't just a belief, it was a fact.
Awaiting the Moshiach, said the Chofetz Chaim, should be in the same style as you would await a Shabbos guest. When Friday afternoon comes, everyone knows that the guest is going to arrive any minute. They don't know exactly when, but they know he's coming. In the meantime everyone is busy with his chores getting ready for Shabbos. But they don't for one minute forget who's coming. They're all listening for the doorbell to ring.
That's the way it should be about the Moshiach. We all go about our daily business. Life goes on as usual. But in the back of our minds we should be anxiously awaiting the sound of the Shofar announcing his arrival.
The Chofetz Chaim continued with one of his famous parables. Have you ever taken a train? You'll notice that as the train approaches its destination it picks up speed, in anticipation of the final stop.
We also should take notice. The speed of history is increasing. Things are happening faster and faster. Changes that used to take centuries to occur now happen almost instantaneously. Regimes are rising and falling; people are suddenly thrown into affluence, or suffer terrible financial collapse. The pace of life has taken on a frenzied speed. Heaven is spinning the wheels of fortune faster and faster in order to quickly arrive at the last stop, the Geula, (let it happen speedily).
The Chofetz Chaim added, that in normal times a business would readily offer long term credit to their customers. But when the owner is contemplating retirement or closure he's not so ready to give credit. He wants cold cash. He calls up each one of his customers to pay up their accounts as soon as possible.
This is what is happening today. Once, the Creator of the Universe was willing to give "credit" - He would be patient and collect what was due Him slowly, over a period of time. Not anymore. We are about to enter the new era of the Moshiach. It's as if the world is "closing shop." Hashem wants "cold cash" only. He's hurrying up to finish all the accounts!
© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Yeshiva Shaare Chaim.
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers) and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop - Lakewood).
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