At The End The Empire Will Fall

In the above class, I touch upon current events and this week’s parsha – Toldot.

All of us sense the world is in chaos. This chaos is the stage before the fall of the evil empire. This is the empire which is both global and internal. It is the empire of emptiness, which fills no particular political entity yet infects all. It is about detachment from the G-Dly root within and distracting humanity from the purpose of its existence.


Many of us are fearful of what lies ahead, but we are assured the empire will fall at the end and a new world will be born. The key is not to lose hope and understand that the best way to handle the empire as it falls apart is to disconnect from its allure, from the tentacles of unfullfilled wants.

This week’s parsha is about two kingdoms born as twins. They are more than political entities, but rather two approaches, two outlooks on the world. One is about disconnection and superficiality. This is Edom. The second is Yaakov, who stands for holiness and G-Dly influence.

The question is who will win?


These are the Tribes of Israel

“All these are the tribes of Israel – twelve – and this is what their father spoke to them and he blessed them; he blessed each according to his appropriate blessing.” (BEREISHIT 49:28)

Just prior to his passing, Yaakov blessed his sons for the final time. The Abarbanel teaches that the patriarch bestowed a blessing upon the tribal heads according to each one’s particular task in the larger mission of building the Hebrew Nation. He blessed them individually – each in line with his own specific aptitudes and capabilities – so that all would direct their talents and energies towards the path for which HaShem had uniquely suited them. This understanding illustrates the point that each Hebrew tribe has its own distinct role as part of Israel’s larger national mission. Far from breeding disunity, however, the separate tribal callings bind Israel more firmly together. The tribes are likened to spokes of a wheel – though the spokes point in different directions, they are all part of the same wheel and are each essential to its proper function.

The sons of Yaakov and their tribes each have a distinct role to play within the larger Hebrew Nation. While Yehuda is destined for royalty, Levi priesthood, Yissakhar scholarship, Zevulun commerce, et cetera, all twelve contribute their talents and unique abilities to serving HaShem and manifesting His Ideal. The Midrash teaches that there are seventy faces (facets) to the Torah (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15). There are numerous ways to facilitate the revelation of HaShem’s Divine Oneness to mankind. While this understanding is crucial for achieving a broader and more inclusive perspective, it is unfortunately all too often misunderstood and taken to a counterproductive extreme. The various faces of the Torah are only legitimate so long as they fit into the framework of Israel’s historic mission and earthly function. An interpretation that runs contrary to the Torah itself cannot be considered a valid understanding of G-D’s Truth.

While there is one truth and not seventy, this one absolute and all encompassing truth can possess within it a multiplicity of smaller truths, which can each be viewed from various angles and perspectives. The Torah can be approached and understood in an assortment of ways so long as these are all in line with its fundamental essence. And although this might seem to disqualify movements within the Jewish world that negate the importance of Torah Law, the binding authority of our Sages, the commandment to reside in Eretz Yisrael or the prohibition against surrendering any portion of it to other peoples, even those who champion these positions are often expressing something deep within the collective Hebrew soul that in its own way contributes to the advancement of the Israeli mission.

The various faces of Torah are not conflicting philosophies but rather different ways of contributing to the objective mission of Am Yisrael. The Hebrew Nation is one body with one common purpose – to bring this world to the awareness of HaShem as the timeless ultimate Reality without end that creates all, sustains all, empowers all and loves all.

In order for Israel to achieve this lofty goal, we must first constitute a healthy nation in our homeland. Our society must encompass scholars, doctors, engineers, farmers, pilots, accountants, lawmakers, firefighters and sanitation workers, all serving the Kadosh Barukh Hu and working in unison to build His kingdom in our physical world – a kingdom that will provide material expression to all of our Torah’s highest spiritual values. Not as a “religion” or philosophy but rather as a living reality – a kingdom who’s very life force and national culture is the Divine Ideal being fully expressed in every field of human endeavor. A “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (SHEMOT 19:6) – where even the bus drivers drive their buses and the merchants sell their wares in such a way that manifests HaShem’s Ideal in their specific spheres of life – is the true concrete meaning of the Torah’s seventy faces.

Am Yisrael – the uniquely created receptacle and conduit through which Divine energy and blessing radiates into our world – is once again experiencing a national rebirth on our soil. Israel has returned to the world stage in what has so far been merely the introduction to a revolutionary process destined to lead mankind towards history’s ultimate goal. While Torah scholars must serve as the heart of the Israeli national body and work to properly direct it according to HaShem’s Will, each organ and limb is essential to the healthy function of that body. Each of us was created unique with our own special attributes and prospective contributions to the collective whole. And whatever our individual talents might be, they must be constantly directed towards the realization of Israel’s national mission of elevating human existence to its highest potential and bringing this world to its goal of absolute good that preceded Creation and continues – like gravity – to pull history towards it. Only as a kingdom of priests and holy nation that reveals HaShem’s Oneness over all spheres of life can Israel fully express the grandeur of His Ideal and lead mankind to experience a world of total blessing.

The Nation of our Fathers

What is a nation?  According to the Oxford Dictionary a nation is: “a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language inhabiting a particular state or territory.”  Currently, due to unfortunate circumstances of our exile from our home land, the Jewish people do not seem to fit this definition.

It is true that we are all descended from Abraham and Sarah (whether physically or spiritually) and that we share the same history (as described in the twenty four books of the Tanach).  It is also true that we have inherited from our ancestors common cultural attributes (such as the pursuit of justice, heart for kindness, a love of learning, and a desire to make a better world) and that Hebrew has been the language of the Jewish people for the last 3.000 years in prayer and learning (and now again in speech).  Yet it seems that we are lacking the most important qualification of a nation:  a land which unites us all!  

Let us consider if the land of Israel can be that missing link.  On one hand, it definitely unites the Jewish people: It is the place of our origin. It is the place of our destiny.  It is the country we cry about on Tisha B’av.  It is the country we dream of on Passover.  It is the country we pray for in the midst of our weddings.  It is the country where the righteous wish to be buried at the end of their days.

 But for over one thousand years the majority of the Jewish people did not dwell there.  Even today the Jewish People reside in over one hundred countries, spread over six continents.  How does the land of Israel keep us as a nation if we do not all dwell there?  Rabbi Mordechai Breuer answers that the unique relationship each of our forefathers had with the land of Israel set a precedent for the future generations of their descendents.  Our nation sometimes has a relationship with the land like of Abraham (Aliya), sometimes like of Isaac (Dwelling), and sometimes like of Jacob (Return).

Abraham made Aliya to Israel.  Abraham was born in Ur, the biggest metropolitan city of ancient times.  On God’s command he left the culture and technology of his birth place and made his home in the not-cultivated land of Israel.  Abraham shows us that Israel is our homeland regardless of our place of birth.  

Isaac lived in Israel.  Isaac was born in the land and even in tough times did not leave. Isaac cultivated the land and he didn’t give up when the locals opposed his efforts.  He kept on digging new wells until they realized that he is committed to the land and here to stay.  Isaac teaches us that our homeland is Israel, no matter what others claim.

Jacob returned to the land of Israel.  When he was forty years old, Jacob left the land of Israel to live in Aram.  There he was very successful.  Yet Jacob left his wealth to return to his homeland.  Jacob shows us that even if we live elsewhere the country of Israel is still our home.  Jacob demonstrated this again when he was living in Egypt and commanded his children to make sure he will be buried in Israel.  He was telling his children “You might temporarily need to live outside Israel-maybe even for hundreds of years-but don’t forget that your true place of residence is the land of Israel.”

The three relationships our forefathers had with the land of Israel were repeated on the national level.  Like Abraham our Father, the Jewish People were born outside of Israel and we “made Aliya” to establish our homes in the promised land.  Like Isaac our Father, the Jewish people cultivated the soil, fought the Pelishtim (Philistines) who contested our existence, and ultimately established ourselves as the true residents of the land of Israel.  Like Jacob our Father, the Jewish people had to leave the land and found themselves in a new place with an opportunity for prosperity.  Yet when the Jews had the ability to return to the land of their forefathers they did.  The first Aliya (Shesbazar), the second Aliya (Zerubavel), the third Aliya (Ezra) and the fourth Aliya (Nechemya).all contributed to the Second Common Wealth, a renewed Beit HaMikdash, and even a more glorified state than before.
Today, on both a national and individualistic level, we witness the renewal of all three relationships that our forefathers had with the land.  From throughout the world, the Jewish People are making Aliya and returning to their home.  In Israel, the Jewish people are cultivating the country, fighting off the enemy, and with a silent and modest determination, establishing the nation of Israel as the permanent residence of the land.  

The Nation of Israel Lives!!!