Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson

The Need for Divine Sacrifice in Bnei Yisrael’s Restitution


Various Rabbis

"Vayechal Moshe" (he prayed; [the unusual root hints at other meanings]) - Abayei said: This teaches us that Moshe prayed until he "made Hashem sick (choleh)." Rava said: ...until Moshe nullified Hashem’s oath (Rashi- to destroy them).

Ein Ayah: [This refers to Abayei’s statement about making Hashem sick]. Health can be used to refer to a good condition for the world’s existence. When one part of the system is out of its harmony within the whole, the ruined order can be described as sickness. The complete way in which Hashem leads the world is to make existence something of beauty. If an element of existence becomes hopelessly corrupt, it will cease to exist, and its place will be taken by something that is closer to perfection.
The way Hashem runs the world, Bnei Yisrael were supposed to reach their desired level and, through them, the world was supposed to reach its moral goals. The world was not supposed to be improved by negative phenomena, such as the exile of Israel and its torment, which ended up coming upon us to remove our impurity. Since Divine Providence wants His creations to have goodness, impure people should have, ideally, been destroyed and replaced by those who could reach their spiritual goals without the need for difficult and painful historical events.
However, Moshe put a lot of effort into prayers to save Bnei Yisrael from destruction. They reached a level that, in order to return to a sufficient level of purity, a long and dark path, full of anguish of exile and tragic, painful historical events was required. It is an unnatural running of the world when a nation that is supposed to be an example to the world has to undergo difficulties. Thus, it is considered as if Hashem were, c’v’yachol, sick, in comparison to the way He would have liked to have healthily led the world. The mishna alludes elsewhere (Sanhedrin 46a) to the mashal of illness to Hashem under such circumstances, saying: "When a person is in pain, what does the Divine Presence say? ‘I am in pain from My head; I am in pain from My arm.’"

The Good to the World From Israel’s Troubles
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 5:58)

[This piece relates to the second opinion of the gemara cited above (Rava said: until Moshe nullified Hashem’s oath). Rav Kook’s words also relate to the previous piece.]

Ein Ayah: Although the continued existence of Israel after the sin of the Golden Calf included the need for bitter historical phenomena, including exiles and tragedies that took place, we still do not look at Hashem’s leadership at that time as "sickly." That is because, through Bnei Yisrael’s hard times, the world actually benefitted greatly, as the dispersal of Israel throughout the world helped spread the light of Hashem. Their hard times thus helped perfect the world just as their tranquil ones did, and thereby the troubles are part of the ultimate tranquility that will eventually emerge.
The nullification of an oath is the product of a higher level of desire than the original oath, a fact that makes the nullification possible. So too, had Bnei Yisrael been worthy to sit peacefully in their Land, it would have been pleasant and good for them. However, if that would always be the case, there would be many nations who would never be exposed to the light of Israel or know about Hashem, and many things would have had to occur over centuries until they would find out the truth and reach their potentials. Therefore, the fact that Israel continued to exist after the sin actually turned out to be a blessing, just as the nullification of an oath can bring a better situation than maintaining the oath.
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