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Which Side Are You On?

Friday, 9 August, 2019 - 6:58 am

 We live in very pronounced times, to say the least.

I am often asked, “Whose side are you on?”

Sometimes, it’s sports, sometimes it’s religion, and sometimes it’s politics.

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In this week’s parsha, Devarim, the Jews are stationed in the plains of Moab. The fifth Book of the Torah, Devarim, opens with Moshe’s long speech to the Jewish people:

These are the words which Moshe spoke to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan….

However, instead of employing their actual location (as done numerous times in last parsha), the Torah simply states that they were, “on the other side of the Jordan (River).”

Why the ambiguity?

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The answer can be found in the context of where the Jews are in their national journey. They stand at the threshold of the Holy Land. After salvation from slavery, receiving the Torah and the travails of forty years in the desert – they are about to enter the Promised Land.

In reality the Jews have just experienced a decisive victory, conquering the lands of the Emori and Bashan kingdoms.

Anything short, however, of entry into the land of Israel – is utter exile and failure. They may be free from the Egyptians, the Amalekites, the Emori and others. In fact, they may very well be able to establish their own state right then and there.

But, that’s not G-d’s plan. They are meant to enter the land of Israel. And, until they enter the Holy Land they are far short of true freedom. They are on the other side. They are not home. Their current state is exile.

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Life might be pleasant. It might even be good.

But, if we are even a stone’s throw from our destination, we are still outside of our home. We’re in exile.

As we arrive at the saddest time of the year, we mourn – once again – the loss of our Holy Temple. Tisha B’Av encapsulates the suffering of our people throughout the last two millennia.

For many of us today, however, life isn’t that bad. We are often more devastated about the daily news or the state of our stock portfolio than the destruction of Jerusalem.

If we are to be redeemed, the first prerequisite is recognizing that the present state of exile is precisely that: exile. Our current state of affairs is utterly lacking – because we are on the other side of our true home. We need Moshiach not merely to alleviate the problems in our lives. We need Moshiach because we are living in darkness, in spiritual and physical exile. The era of peace, prosperity and holiness is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.

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We may take different sides in our politics, fashion and music. But we are all truly on the same side – outside of our ultimate reality.

By diagnosing our shortcoming – and yearning for its resolution – we are one step closer to the quantum leap lurking outside our door.

May we merit the rebuilding of Jerusalem in all aspects immediately.

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