We are in the midst of the three weeks of longing. Longing for the House wherein G-d’s Presence was felt so powerfully and has since been so lacking since its destruction. We long for the day when all mankind will long for its rebuilding and will in fact be a participant in its dedication. The painful question remains “ until then , what?”
In the Torah portion of Pinchas ,after the description of all the households that make up the people of Israel ,we read the following;
The daughters of Zelaphchad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph, came forward, …They stood before Moshe and before Eleazar the kohen and before the chieftains and the entire congregation at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, saying,..; Our father died in the desert…. Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he had no son? Give unto us a possession among the brethren of our father.’ ” (Numbers 27: 1-4)
Moshe then brings the case before Hashem and he is then told ;
“Zelaphchad ‘s daughters speak justly. You shall certainly give them a portion of inheritance along with their father’s brothers, and you shall transfer their father’s inheritance to them. ”
Their dramatic and courageous declaration of yearning “Give unto us a possession among the brethren of our father” revealed new Torah into the world.
Even before this people became a people ,we read how the Exodus began with a sigh of yearning. After hundreds of years of bondage and slavery, the children of Israel seemed to have lost the courage to experience faith and dreams. Yet just as it seems that they were beyond retrieval, the King of Egypt dies
“And it came to pass in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died; and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto G-d by reason of the bondage. And G-d heard their sigh, and G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And G-d saw the children of Israel, and G-d took cognizance of them.” (Exodus 2:23-25)
At that moment their sigh and yearning for something better, changed the course of History.
Then again as they wandered into the desert and were commanded to celebrate the Passover there were those amongst the people that were not able to participate in the festivities and they turn to Moshe and demand more.”Those men said to him, “We are ritually unclean [because of contact] with a dead person; [but] why should we be excluded so as not to bring the offering of Hashem in its appointed time, with all the children of Israel ( Numbers 9: 6-7) Their bold declaration ‘why should we be excluded ‘produced Divine results and new Torah was again introduced.
The common thread throughout these and other countless examples in Tanach is that G-d waits for us to act. “Return to Me, and I will return to you, said Hashem of Hosts. (Malachi 3:7). It is the action of “return” that transforms us into a new vessel. It is that new vessel that can be move further along the plan of divine destiny.
To understand all this one can turn to a powerful statement by the Rebbe of Kotzk;“Where is G-d to be found? ,he asked. His answer was that “He is found In the place where He is given entry. ” His Presence is only revealed in a place that makes room for Him .
We all confront seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our corporate and in our individual lives. They stymie us and make us feel impotent. Hashem waits for us to overcome the obstacles of our insecurities and step into our destiny. That is true in each of our individual paths but it is so critically true in our march into destiny as a people.
The House of G-d cannot be re-established until we experience the sigh of pain for its loss. Then we must also ask “’why should we be excluded” and then demand that we also want to receive our portion in that House. G-d waits for us to act.
We do not know when all of our prayers, strivings, efforts will make a difference. Yet, if nothing else these actions remain a consistent and ever present cry of yearning. Yearning never remains orphaned as all is recorded in the heavens “You have counted my wanderings; and have placed my tears in Your flask. Are they not all inscribed in Your book”( psalm 56:9) .
Rabbi Tarfon is quoted in Pirkei avot;” It is not up to you to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it (Pirkei Avot 2:21). Human destiny is about yearning to do the task without being too concerned who will finish the job.
Faith then is all about patience.
( le-refuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved)