Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Bechukotai
To dedicate this lesson

Miracles & Mashiach


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

It’s well-known that we Jews can have the tendency to focus on the negative, to continually kvetch & look for the dark cloud behind every silver lining. Maybe we acquired this trait via the Torah; after all, there are just 10 p’sukim in our Sedra devoted to blessings, & 33 that talk about curses! Just open the newspaper to read all about our troubles, & the grim forecasts of the prophets of doom.

But is it really all THAT bad?

Rashi comments that the blessings at the beginning of the parsha connect to the era of Mashiach. Commenting on the phrase, "And the trees of the field will bear fruit," Rashi clearly wonders, "Hmmmm, trees giving forth fruit; what is so special about that?!" And so he answers, "This refers to the future, when even non-fruit bearing trees will miraculously bear fruit!

As I read this Rashi, I immediately recalled a visit I had taken some time ago to Gush Katif, of blessed memory. There we were shown how, through the marvel of drip-irrigation, Israeli farmers can grow anything, anywhere, anytime! Even in parched desert locales & climates, we saw luscious tomatoes, corn, even pineapples being cultivated, & the technology exported to drought-stricken, starving African nations.

Virtually every day, I am bombarded with e-mails about the latest Israeli inventions & innovations, from non-invasive medical procedures to pocket printers to machines that turn air into water! What once seemed like fanciful science-fiction is today’s Israeli reality.

Gemara Sanhedrin questions why one source says Mashiach will come "on Heavenly clouds," while another source says he will be "a poor man riding on a donkey." The answer is that it all depends upon us: If we have enough merits, then Mashaich will arrive amidst plenty & prosperity, "riding high" into an era of knowledge & devotion to Hashem. But if, chas v’shalom, we are not worthy, Redemption will come only at our lowest point.

The converse of this Gemara is also true: When miraculous-like events are taking place, it is a clear sign that we must be doing something right to deserve it! Of course, there is always Chesed Hashem at work, & we are the grateful recipients of G-d’s giving & generous nature. But when we are flourishing, it indicates that G-d is pleased with our progress, & so is sharing a glimpse of the Geula with us.

So while we shouldn’t break our arm from patting ourselves on the back too much; we shouldn’t be beating ourselves up too much, either!
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