Exile Tutorial

Golus is banishment from Hashem’s palace, because Eretz Yisroel is the earthly palace, where an extra level of behavior is expected. When we fail to perform to the expected standard we are sent out of the king’s citadel.

The Vilna Gaon uses the following parable to explain our deliverance at the time of Mordechai and Esther:

A king had a only son who was much beloved and the apple of his eye. The court ministers and knights were jealous of the great love the king had for him. In time, the prince sinned against his father and was banished to a forest. The son assumed this to mean that his father had abandoned and forgotten about him. In truth the merciful king was concerned that perhaps the prince would be mauled by wild animals or attacked by the knights who despised his son. The king sent his loyal servants and trustworthy bodyguards into the forest to protect the youth, but he warned them lest his son find out about this clandestine operation. Secrecy was paramount in order that the prince repent from his sins. The king’s fears were not unfounded for in time, a bear attacked the prince. The danger was quickly averted when one of the king’s servants came rushing from his hiding in the trees to rescue him. The son dismissed it as mere chance. On other occasions, one by one the enemy ministers launched menacing attacks, and again and again one of the king’s bodyguards rushed to his aid and saved him from the ministers’ clutches. Truth started to dawn upon the prince. He understood that it was impossible for this to be a succession of random happenstances; this was far too many flukes. With simple reasoning he concluded that his father must have orchestrated this protection out of love. When the prince realized how endeared he was to his father the king, his own love for his father increased and was deeply etched into his heart, and he fully repented and rejoined his father.

So too writes the Gaon, Hashem sent us into bitter exiles but is concerned lest we be attacked by ferocious bears, so Hashem sends his loyal messengers and trusty servants performing miracles through them, while simultaneously concealing his identity, constantly avoiding revealing Himself. Mordecai and Esther in their day understood the sequence of events unfolding in the Purim story was from Hashem’s hidden hand directing from heaven. They responded like the prince by accepting Hashem’s Torah out of love.

We can also extrapolate an additional perspective with which to view exile: The love the father had for the son never waxed and waned, he felt the same adoration when the son was with him as when he left. What changed was the son’s recognition of his father’s love; the son in exile perceived how much his father adored him. When it dawned that his father planned for his safety and well being when he was vulnerable, he came to realize the king’s care and concern for his welfare, this ultimately encouraged the son to repent and return to his father. The exile was a learning opportunity for the child, he couldn’t truly understand how much his father loved him whilst living in the palace, it was only when he sent away from the palace that he fully appreciated his father’s affections.

Lesson

This is another dimension of our exile, bitter as it is; we have survived Crusades, Inquisitions, Holocausts and Intifadas and we still exist Somebody is looking out for us.

Story

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1740–1809), also known as the Berdichever, was a Chassidish leader. Reb Levi Yitzchok was known as the “defense attorney” for the Jewish people, because it was believed that he could intercede on their behalf before God by always finding a positive light in which view his brethren. Even though he was known for his compassion for every Jew, he never lost sight of reality.

Once, he pithily remarked “I wish I would love the greatest Tzaddik as much as Hashem loves the biggest Rosha”.

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