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Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Foundations of Faith

Chapter 34

34. The Jewish People's Extensive Suffering

When the nation of Israel finally experiences complete redemption, the purpose of their long and difficult exile will become evident. It will be made clear that the Jewish people's suffering was not do to their inferiority, but to their preeminence.
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Taxir: When the nation of Israel finally experiences complete redemption, the purpose of their long and difficult exile will become evident. It will be made clear that the Jewish people's suffering was not do to their inferiority, but to their preeminence.
Foundations of Faith (50)
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
33 - 33. God's Covenants with the Jewish People
34 - 34. The Jewish People's Extensive Suffering
35 - 36. Well-balanced Character Traits
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When the nation of Israel finally experiences complete redemption, becoming elevated and exalted in the eyes of all, the purpose of their long and difficult exile will become evident. Why the Jews suffered more than any other nation. Why they were made to be the object of ridicule and mockery to the point where the gentiles disparaged them, saying, "How can you claim to be closer to God than the other nations when we all are witness to your low and downtrodden state. God protects and watches over those whom He cares for. You, however, are persecuted and afflicted by suffering more than any other nation!"

In the future, everything will become understood. It will be made clear that the Jewish people's suffering was not do to their inferiority, but the result of their preeminence.

The prophet Isaiah states: "He was despised and rejected of men; a man of pains and acquainted with sickness. And we hid as it were our faces from him. He was despised and we esteemed him not, but in truth he has born our sickness and endured our pains. Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded because of our transgressions, bruised because of our iniquities. His sufferings were that we might have peace, and by his injury we are healed."

In other words, the suffering experienced by Israel is not merely because of its own iniquities; rather, Israel bears the sins of the entire world. Israel is the source of sickness and the source of health on behalf of all bodily organs. The heart is sensitive and vulnerable. The slightest sense of worry, sorrow, affection, enmity, or fear immediately effects the heart; any quick movement or damage to one of the organs effects the heart. Hence, the heart, because of its extreme sensitivity, must maintain complete health. If this is not the case, it cannot function. It cannot suffer a wound or bruise like other organs. The heart is the source of health because all of the other organs are dependent upon it, and therefore it is also the source of sickness.

This is true of Israel among the nations. Israel suffers more than any other nation because it bears the iniquities of everybody else. Israel is responsible. Israel is the heart. Therefore, God says, "Only you do I know of all the families of the earth, therefore I charge you with all of your iniquities."

Still, the Almighty does not detain the sins of Israel allowing them to add up and thus result in complete destruction. This is what He did to the Amorites, as it is written, "For He did not repay the iniquity of the Amorite until now." He let their sins accumulate to the point where He was able to repay them by destroying them completely. This, however is not the case with Israel; the Almighty forgives the sins of His nations such that they not over accumulate.

To the above, the King of the Khazars responds: "Therefore, we suffer while the rest of the world enjoys respite, but these pains strengthen our faith. They serve to refine the pure ones among us and to remove the wicked from our midst. This is what allows Divinity to attach itself to the world. This is the ultimate purpose of creation - that it be attached to Divinity - and it is brought about via those who are worthy of such, the people of Israel. It is accomplished via Israel's great spiritual leaders, the choicest individuals, the pietists and the prophets."

In sum, the definition of Israel as heart of the nations confirms, on the one hand, Israel's preeminence, on the other, Israel's connection to the nations of the world.

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The biblical quotes in the above article were taken from The Jerusalem Bible (Koren).


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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