min ha-may-TZAR ka-RA-tee YAH a-NA-nee va-mer-KHAV YAH
Today is the last day of Passover in Israel, and it is recognized as a day of redemptions. Psalm 118 is recited towards the end of the Pesach seder, and uses a word that is central to the themes of Pesach: ‘Maytzar’ (מצר), meaning ‘straits’ or ‘distress.’ This word is closely related to the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim (מצרים). On an emotional level, Egypt symbolizes the agonizing straits that constrict us. Each of us occasionally finds ourselves trapped. Sometimes this happens due to physical causes like poverty or illness, and sometimes for psychological reasons, such as depression or anxiety. Pesach is the festival of freedom and faith, teaching that the Almighty saves all from each of life’s narrow confines. As the psalmist notes, “In distress I called on Hashem; Hashemanswered me and brought me relief.” This year we find ourselves especially “confined” and it is fitting that we should start to see a “redemption” from these confines, starting today!
Through the Rabbi’s Window: Reflections on the Sabbath of Comfort
"Comfort, oh comfort My people, Says your God."
This past Sabbath, Jews around the world read from Isaiah 40. “Comfort, oh comfort My people, Says your God.” The Sabbath of Comfort occurs on the Sabbath immediately following the Fast of the Ninth of Av. While the Ninth of Av is the saddest days on the Jewish calendar, the following Sabbath is full of hope and promise as we are reminded of God’s eternal promise to comfort His children.
It just so happens that I was in the United States this year on the Sabbath of Comfort. While it is always strange to be out of Israel on these special days, this year I experienced a new perspective on this unique Sabbath. It was very poignant to hear Isaiah’s ancient words read aloud in the Diaspora. Throughout history, the relationship between Jews and Christians has been rocky, (to say the least). With every passing year, more and more Christians are affirming their support for the People and the Land of Israel and publicly standing with the Children of Israel. On this trip to America, I was able to appreciate just how many good people, lovers and supporters of Israel, there actually are!
This year, perhaps more than any year before, God’s comfort is blatantly evident!
An article on Breaking Israel News about foxes being sighted on the Temple Mount was our most popular article. EVER. With over 250,000 page views! The sighting of the foxes occurred right before the Ninth of Av when Jews read the Book of Lamentations; “Because of Mount Tzion, which lies desolate; Jackals prowl over it” (Lamentations 5:18).
Israeli fox (Shutterstock).
Wild foxes at the site of the destroyed Temple are described specifically in the Jewish Talmud. The ability to see redemption in the appearance of foxes on the Temple Mount was specifically described in a section of the Talmud, which was written 2,000 years ago. The Talmud tells of Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Akiva ascending to Jerusalem.
When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox emerging from the place of the Holy of Holies.
The other Rabbis started weeping but Rabbi Akiva laughed. Rabbi Akiva asked the rabbis why they cried and they explained that to see a wild animal in such a holy place, a place which was forbidden to unfit men, was distressing. Rabbi Akiva noted that this was precisely the reason he laughed. He explained that the fact that the prophecy of the destruction of the Temple came true, so too would the prophecy of the rebuilding of the Temple come true!
The group of foxes playing on the Temple Mount in the early morning hours was nothing less than a sign from God. A sign of comfort, and a sign of the coming redemption.
Over the course of the summer, The Israel365 Charity Fund together with Pastor Jentezen Franklin and the Free Chapel Ministries have been running a daily summer camp for the children of Moshav Mevo Modiim whose homes were destroyed by arson terrorists in May. Camp Comfort provides fun, laughter, and most importantly- healing and comfort- for Israeli children who really need some TLC.
The Sabbath of Comfort always holds a special place in my heart. 10 years ago on this day, my oldest son David was born! Happy Birthday, David!
Just as we have seen the fulfillment of prophecy over the past few days and God’s direct comforting of His children, may we merit to see all of the prophecies of the Bible come true.
FEATURED PHOTO: The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, leads prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem (Shutterstock).
You shall faithfully observe all the Instruction that I enjoin upon you today, that you may thrive and increase and be able to possess the land that Hashem promised on oath to your fathers Deuteronomy 8:1 (The Israel Bible™)
kol ha-mitz-VAH a-SHER a-no-KHEE m’-tza-v’-KHA ha-YOM tish-m’-RUN la-a-SOT l’-MA-an tikh-YUN ur-vee-TEM u-va-TEM vee-rish-TEM et ha-A-retz a-sher nish-BA a-do-NAI la-a-vo-tay-KHEM
This Hebrew verse starts in the singular, “all the Instruction that I enjoin upon you today,” but finishes in the plural, “that you may thrive and increase and be able to possess the land that Hashem promised on oath to your fathers.” The positive actions of even a single person can benefit the entire world. An individual following one commandment can bring merit to many, and ensure that they live and thrive. Furthermore, the words in this verse, as in so many others throughout the Bible, directly connect the blessing of life to living in the Land of Israel. It is in every person’s power not only to enable others to live, but to “thrive and increase and be able to possess the land that Hashem promised on oath to your fathers.”
Rabbi Tuly Weisz's New Blog Series - "Through the Rabbi's Window"