OpinionTorah Portion

Worthy or not, we are ready for redemption

Parshat Behar teaches that there are two paths to redemption: that of righteous people and that of the Jubilee that ends the exile.

An open Torah scroll. Source: Pixabay.
An open Torah scroll. Source: Pixabay.
Kenneth Brander. Credit: Courtesy.
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander is the president and rosh yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, a Modern Orthodox network of 32 educational and social institutions and programs.

Ever since Oct. 7, we have been on the lookout for heroes. In the face of tragedy and villainy, heroes can inspire us to carry on and see the best in humanity and ourselves. This enables us to move towards redemption.

There are the brave soldiers and civilians who fought to save innocents during the attack. The thousands of Israelis serving on the frontlines. Jews around the world who have put themselves in harm’s way to show support for our homeland. Those on the home front who dropped everything to identify bodies, house the displaced, embrace the families of the hostages and the reservists, tend the fields, attend the funerals, care for the wounded and much more. Each one who did their part has left a mark on all of us, strengthening us and encouraging us in the hope that a better tomorrow will follow these dark days.

Rav Chaim Attar, the Or ha-Hayyim, in his commentary on Behar—this week’s Torah portion—unearthed a reference to the righteous people who hasten the redemption. Vayikra 25:25-28 describes a situation in which a landowner falls on hard times and must sell his inherited piece of land. Under these circumstances, a relative is appointed a “redeemer.” He should purchase the field in order to keep the land in the family. If no “redeemer” can be found, the land may be sold to another person, but only until the Jubilee year, at which point it is returned to the original owner.

R. Attar stated that this passage is not simply a directive for those who face financial difficulties. It is also to be read metaphorically. Such a reading reveals that it offers “a great insight for the dwellers of the earth.” The piece of real estate is a metaphor for the Land of Israel, centered in Jerusalem. The financially disadvantaged Jew is the spiritually impoverished Jewish people, who are subjected to exile and the loss of their freedom and sacred land.

It is the responsibility of the “redeemers”—the righteous of each generation who are “relatives” of God—to bring about redemption through their leadership. R. Attar added that, even if no redeemer from the righteous rises up, the suffering of the Jewish people will be seen by God. Eventually, the Jubilee—the end of the exile—will arrive, even if the Jewish people have not accrued sufficient merit.

Thus, there are two pathways to ultimate redemption: That seized by the righteous to redeem the people and that of the Jubilee that will end our suffering.

It is clear that the time for redemption has come. Countless righteous people have accrued unimaginable merit for us through their concern for the welfare of their brethren.

It is important to remember that righteous people are not only defined as those who formally observe the 613 commandments. They are those who are willing to put their personal desires aside and focus on the welfare and redemption of the people.

Last week, I heard Avidan Beit Yaakov speak on Israel’s Channel 12 before the burial of his son Roi, who fell in a friendly-fire incident in Gaza. Avidan stated, “The soldiers in the tank [who fired on the building where his son was located] are tzadikim —righteous people. This happens in war, and I have no anger towards them. … I embrace them and their commanders must embrace them. After the war is over and they have finished their mission—not before—they are invited to come to our home for us to embrace them with no questions asked.”

Our suffering over the past few months, along with all the suffering of our people over its millennia of exile, should be enough by now. Whatever the path, whether God considers us worthy or not, we are ready for ultimate redemption. We are prepared to embrace “the day after” when our people will be united and our wounds healed. This cannot come fast enough. In the meantime, we will continue to look for and strive to be heroes.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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