We explained last week that much of the dynamic behind the process of the geulah was specifically geared towards creating nisyonos in the area of emunah. Thus, matters reached the point where even Moshe Rabbeinu was asking, “Why have You done evil to Bnei Yisrael?” The answer Hashem gave was that the purpose of what was happening was to have Bnei Yisrael strengthen their emunah, and therefore Hashem reiterated all the promises of what awaited Bnei Yisrael: the redemption itself, Matan Torah, entering Eretz Yisrael. All this was supposed to enter their field of consciousness and expectations! This of course would take avodah and strengthening of their emunah in Hashem, His omniscience, His power, His ability to do anything He chooses in the universe that He created. Then, and only then, could the geulah process begin.
This is why at the very inception of Moshe Rabbeinu’s charge to lead Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt, it was necessary to talk about how he would bring them to an ‘Eretz zavas chalav udevash.” He was to describe how they would borrow silver and gold vessels from their neighbors — so that Moshe himself would exhibit that level of emunah and bitachon before embarking on his mission.
Seforno explains that the four expressions of geulah (which we are supposed to focus on and experience as we drink the four cups of wine during the Seder night) represent four stages in the redemption, each one being a specific step towards the ultimate redemption. The purpose of each stage was to increase and intensify Bnei Yisrael’s emunah. “And I will take you out from beneath the oppression of Mitzrayim” — as soon as the plagues started, the oppressive practices of the Egyptians ceased. “And I will save you…” — the full-fledged salvation would only occur when they actually left the borders of Egypt and were out, and that would of course include the spiritual geulah as well. “And I will redeem you” — that further stage occurred when the Egyptians drowned at the Red Sea, after trying to enslave Bnei Yisrael anew; from then on, they were no longer mere “escaping slaves.” Finally, “And I will take you unto Me as a nation” — which is of course Matan Torah, our raison d’être, our fulfillment in ruchniyus. After these heights are scaled, “And I will bring you into Eretz Yisrael.” Now you are ready to live in the Land of Hashem, after “And you shall know that I am Hashem, “Who has taken you out of Egypt,” with all the attendant lessons in emunah.
Seforno elaborates, explaining that there was an element lacking in Bnei Yisrael, for they did not listen to Moshe at that point, as the pasuk says, “And they did not listen to Moshe mikotzer ruach, umei’avodah kashah.” Seforno explains that the deeper meaning of this verse is, “And they did not listen to Moshe to examine and consider all of this in a way that would bring them to full and total emunah, which would enable them to reach the ultimate stage of redemption by entering Eretz Yisrael. It was in this the area that this generation was lacking, in a way that ultimately prevented them from entering the land. Seforno interprets the words ‘mikotzer ruach’ to mean a lack of focus to think, consider and realize the depths of emunah. They had enough emunah to achieve the redemption itself, but not at the level necessary to inherit and establish themselves in Eretz Yisrael.
Living in Eretz Yisrael, the land in which “the eyes of Hashem (i.e. hashgachas Hashem) are upon it from the start of the year until its close,” requires greater heights. Hashgachas Hashem is openly more manifest in Eretz Yisrael, and to have the zechus to be able to live, thrive, and take root here requires ever-higher levels of emunah and bitachon. Whatever the flaw in Bnei Yisrael, as they could not accept Moshe’s words then, came back to haunt them as they failed the test of the spies, the consequence of which was that that generation could not enter Eretz Yisrael.
Living and taking hold of Eretz Yisrael requires higher and higher levels of emunah, as expressed by Chazal in Kesubos: “A person who lives in Eretz Yisrael is considered to have a G-d, while he who dwells in chutz la’aretz is considered to have no G-d.” For Hashem reveals the full glory of His Revelation on earth — His G-dliness, his involvement in the daily affairs of man — in His land, Eretz Yisrael. Everywhere else, he is “missing,” so to speak, to a degree. “To give you Eretz Yisrael [and] to be unto you a G-d” (Vayikra 25:38).
Emunah was necessary for the geulah to take place — and even more so to acquire Eretz Yisrael. Our future redemption, the great revelation of moshiach and Hashem’s sovereignty, will demand from us an intense degree of emunah. I have often thought that one of the ultimate purposes of the industrial and technological revolutions, which have moved much of the world, especially Jews, away from an agricultural-based society and economy, is to make it harder and harder to maintain our simple emunah. Do you really believe in your heart of hearts that Hashem controls, maneuvers, and decides history? Or do you read newspapers avidly, which always, always have an “explanation” as to “why” everything has happened? A farmer knows clearly where his rain and food are coming from; a computer programmer or any other person picking up a weekly paycheck… well, not so much. Thus, in ikvasa demeshicha, it will be, and it is, harder and harder to maintain and to develop pure emunah.
When Moshe was born, the house filled with light. Miriam received a prophecy that this baby was the one who would take the Jews out of Egypt. He was saved by none other than the daughter of Pharaoh himself, and was raised in royal fashion. One would think that things were looking up, no?
Suddenly, Moshe was forced to run away. He reappeared only many decades later — and suddenly the oppressive work became all the more oppressive.
What a nisayon in emunah! How are we prepared for what might very well await us as we prepare for Moshiach?