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Adar 5676

The Light Beyond the Window


Written by the rabbi


לשיעור זה בעברית: האור שמעבר לחלון

Hasidic Jews relate that once, on Passover, before the Seder, R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz called his guest, the grandson of the Maggid of Koznitz, the Rebbe of Mogelnitza, to the window and pointed outside. "Do you see it, Rebbe of Mogelnitza? Do you see it?" asked R' Yissachar Ber. After the Seder, the Rebbe of Mogelnitza danced around the table and sang softly, "The holy elder of Radoshitz showed me light in the window, a great light did he show me. But who knows, who knows, how many more years we need to sleep before it reaches us."

Two spiritual giants sit down together at the Passover table. R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz sees what the Rebbe of Mogelnitza appears not to see. Yet, it turns out that R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz shows the Rebbe of Mogelnitza a great light.

The sages teach: "In the month of Nissan [the Children of Israel] were redeemed, and in the future they will be redeemed in Nissan." The revolving cycle of the Jewish calendar also contains days that are suited for bringing the redemption. The redemption from Egypt which we recall on Seder Night can repeat itself. The potential exists. The light is shining beyond the window. This is the great light that R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz shows the Rebbe of Mogelnitza, the great light of redemption which shines forth each year as the Jewish people sit down at the Seder table. The possibility exists.

R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz calls the Rebbe of Mogelnitza to the window so that he can see the great light. This act reminds us of the verse "Behold, he stands behind our wall" (Song of Songs 2:9). The redemptive process is likened to the beloved one who stands behind the wall. It is within reach, behind the wall. The providence guiding us to the redemptive process can be viewed through the window. It is to this window that R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz draws the Rebbe of Mogelnitza. The great light outside the window is the light of the beloved one who stands behind the wall.

In order to merit seeing this great light one must look outside. Numerous processes are at work in the world and in existence, but because people are so absorbed in themselves they are unable to recognize them. Daily hardships and the momentary pressure of the exile prevent a person from discerning the important processes unfolding in existence. From time to time one must put aside whatever is going on inside the house and go over to the window. It is there that the outside is clarified; it is there that a person puts aside preoccupation with his personal, isolated world and enters the all-encompassing, comprehensive world. There he sees the great light.

The occasion is veiled in an air of secrecy. R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz shows the Rebbe of Mogelnitza something, but the Rebbe of Mogelnitza does not respond. Only later does he begin dancing and singing quietly about what he saw at the window. Silence is emblematic of those processes hidden from the eyes of most people. Few people would have been able to see what the Rebbe of Mogelnitza saw, even with the help of R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz. Few are worthy of such a revelation because few would be willing to accept it and believe in its existence. Such things are said in a whisper for now.

The anecdote's ending leaves something of a sour taste in our mouth. R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz shows the Rebbe of Mogelnitza a great light, but it is not clear how many more years we will need to sleep before this great light reaches us. The Rebbe of Mogelnitza is speaking to us in symbols. The light represents the redemption and sleep symbolizes the exile. These symbols have their source in the words of the sages: Regarding the verse "I am sleeping but my heart is awake" (Song of Songs 5:2) the sages explain that the phrase "I am sleeping" refers to the sleep of the Jewish people in the exile, while "my heart is awake" refers to the divine steps which the Almighty takes in order to bring the redemption."

The light is indeed great, yet it is beyond the window. It has yet to penetrate the window and enter the house. The people in the house are still asleep. The exile continues. This is the difference between R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz and the Rebbe of Mogelnitza. R' Yissachar Ber of Radoshitz is already "there." He is the one who sees the light; he is the one who calls the Rebbe of Mogelnitza to the window; he is the one who talks. The Rebbe of Mogelnitza does not see the light at first. He remains quiet and eventually sings quietly. He also sees that we still need to sleep quite a bit before this great light reaches us.


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