Thursday, September 08, 2016

Notes From The Haftarah: “Not in Haste”

By Rabbi Oury Cherki
Machon Meir and Rabbi of Beit Yehuda Congregation, Jerusalem

The word “chipazon” – haste – appears only three times in the entire Tanach. Two of the times are in the Torah: “Eat it in haste, it is Pesach for G-d” [Shemot 12:11], and “For you left Egypt in haste” [Devarim 16:3]. The third time is in the Haftarah for this week’s Torah portion, “not in haste” [Yeshayahu 52:12]. The two instances in the Torah are in reference to the Exodus from Egypt, while the third verse is referring to the redemption in the distant future. And this shows the difference between the two acts of redemption. In Egypt the process was characterized by haste, a trait that corresponds to a miraculous event. The Maharal of Prague explains that natural processes take time, since that is the way that nature progresses, while a miracle can skip through the barrier of time, and it therefore takes place in haste. (Or Chadash, Esther, 6:14).

A miracle is necessary when nature alone does not have enough strength to carry out the process. Since in the time before the Exodus from Egypt it was not yet clear that mankind is able to overcome nature, and since nature itself is an expression of being enslaved to immutable laws, it was necessary for the redemption to take place in a way that was contrary to nature. This led mankind to conclude that they had the power to overcome every form of enslavement, including the evil inclination and evil human governments.

However, something is seriously lacking in a miraculous process of redemption, and that is the fact that nature does not participate in the event. This might lead to the erroneous notion that nature is not included in the concept of Divine guidance. The result will be a distorted picture of the world, with nature taking on a role that is opposed to the will of G-d. Such an outlook is contrary to the belief in the pure unique characteristic of G-d, which teaches us that the Kingdom of G-d is in control of all aspects of the universe. In the Talmud, the Sages expressed doubt with respect to miracles: “How terrible this man must be if the laws of nature had to be changed to accommodate him” [Shabbat 53b]. Therefore, there is a need to complete the picture through the final redemption, which includes nature and is reconciled with it. And therefore this process is not done in haste: “For you will not come out in haste, you will not flee, for G-d goes before you, and the G-d of Yisrael is the One who will gather you.” [Yeshayahu 52:12].

The Jewish philosopher Franz Yehuda Halevi Rosenzweig takes note of this message by the prophets in his book, “Kochav Hassegulah,” which is based on the premise that the act of creation is what links between G-d and the world while revelation is what links between G-d and man. This implies that there is a gap between man and the world. However, the goal of the process of redemption is to reconcile these two, thus bringing back complete harmony in the world created by the Holy One, Blessed be He.

This outlook is sufficient to counter the popular belief that redemption based on miracles is to be preferred to redemption based on natural events. To depend on miracles is an expression of pessimism with respect to the world of the Holy One, Blessed be He, something that does not correspond to the general message in the spirit of the entire Tanach.

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