Abarbanel on the Parsha

For the week ending 23 March 2024 / 13 Adar Bet 5784

Birkat Hamazon: Blueprint of Jewish Destiny (Part 18)

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
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“Anyone who recites Birkat HaMazon is blessed through it.”

(Zohar HaKadosh to ParshatTerumah)

The requests continue: The Compassionate One, may He send us the Prophet Eliyahu, who is remembered for good, to proclaim to us good tidings, salvations and consolations.

The “good tidings, salvations and consolations” that the Prophet Eliyahu is going to declare is that the Mashiach’s arrival is imminent. As the Prophet Malachi so stirringly declares in Hashem’s Name (3:23), “Behold, I will send Eliyahu the Prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of Hashem.” The Rambam (Hilchot Melachim 12:2) writes that Eliyahu will come to return the Jewish Nation to the Ways of the Torah as a prelude to the Mashiach’s arrival. And once the Mashiach has revealed his presence to us our long and miserable exile will finally be over.

How, exactly, are we going to hear the great announcement of the Mashiach’s arrival? The Kotzker Rebbe once sent one of his Chasidim to open the door for shefoch chamatcha on Seder night. The Chasid was frozen to the spot incapable of even the simplest action of opening the door. When the Rebbe asked him what the problem was he said that he is certain that Prophet Eliyahu must be waiting right outside the door of the Kotzker Rebbe and he was too scared to open the door to see. Answered the Rebbe “You’re wrong. The Prophet Eliyahu enters through the heart not the door!”

Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar (1696-1743) was one of the greatest scholars in his generation. He was born in Morocco and moved to Jerusalem a few years before his untimely passing. He authored several brilliant works, the most famous is his all-encompassing commentary on the Torah entitled Ohr HaChaim – which is how he is commonly referred to – that reveals the extent of his breathtaking depth and breadth of Torah scholarship. Asking why our present exile is taking so long the Ohr HaChaim cites a midrash that the redemption from Egypt took place through the merits of Avraham Avinu. The redemption from the Babylonian exile was in the merits of Yitzchak Avinu. And it was the merits of Yaakov Avinu that redeemed us from the Greek exile. The Final Redemption that will herald in the Messianic Era will be in the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu. Explains the Ohr HaChaim the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu means in the merit of the Torah. That until there is an explosion of Torah learning throughout the Jewish world we cannot be redeemed.

However, there is a glimmer of light in the darkness of our present exile. The Sefat Emet writes (Sefat Emet HaShalem, Tractate Rosh Hashanah) that in the same way that the redeemer came a little while before the redemption from Egypt actually happened, so too, will our Final Redemption unfold.

There is a delightful story that is told about the revered Rabbi Levi Yitzchak from Berditchev, whose overwhelming love for every single Jew was legendry. One Yom Kippur night he turned to Hashem and cried out, “Beloved Father in Heaven! Our Sages teach that whoever quotes something in the name of the person who originally said it brings the redemption (Tractate Megillah 15a). Well, I, Levi Yitzchak, want to quote something in Your Name, “And Hashem said, ‘I have forgiven because of your words’ (Bamidbar 14:20). Now You must redeem us!”

May we all merit to experience it very, very soon.

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