Bar-Ilan University's Parashat Hashavua Study Center
Parashat Ki Tavo 5763/ Sept, 13,
Lectures on the weekly Torah reading by the faculty
of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel.
A project of the Faculty of Jewish Studies,
Paul and Helene Shulman Basic Jewish Studies Center,
and the Office of the Campus Rabbi. Published on the Internet
under the sponsorship of Bar-Ilan University's
International Center for Jewish Identity.
Prepared for Internet
Publication by the Computer Center Staff at Bar-Ilan University.
Inquiries and comments to:
Dr. Isaac Gottlieb, Department of Bible,
Parashat Nitzavim - Va-Yelech 5763/ Sept. 20, 2003
The Stages of Redemption
Dr. Yair Barkai
"And you return to the Lord your G-d and
you and your children heed His command with all your heart and soul...then the
Lord your G-d will restore your fortunes and take you back in love. He will
bring you together again from all the peoples where the Lord your G-d has
scattered you." (Deut. 30:2-3).
While our rabbis and Torah commentators ascribed
these verses to the final redemption of the Jewish people, opinions are divided
as to the stages of the redemption and their order.
According to the Jerusalem Talmud (Ma'aser
Sheni, Chapter 5), first the Temple will be built and the next stage will be the
coming of the Messiah.
According to Sefer Ha-Hinukh (Mitzva 85)
the building of the Temple will be preceded by the ingathering of the exiles, at
the end of which most of the Jewish people will be living in the
Isaac Abarbanel, quoting Ran (Rabbenu Nissim
Gerondi) claims that in the first stage the people of Israel will be find relief
among the nations, the second stage will be the ingathering of the exiles, and
only in the third stage will the Temple be constructed.
Netziv of Volozhin (Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin,
1817-1893), author of the bible commentary Ha'ameq Davar, provides
a detailed and original interpretation of the stages of redemption in his
interpretation of the above verses. In the continuation of this article we will
focus on his words and ideas. In the first stage there will be an awakening
within the people of Israel living among the great nations after "He (G-d)
will place in the heart of the nations a love for you". This arousal will
be expressed in a sweeping Aliya movement, "He will bring you together
from all the peoples". Once the main part of the Diaspora has returned
from among the nations, "G-d will return to gather you from those nations
in which he has dispersed you in little groups", i.e. also from the
smaller nations and countries. And he continues:
Likewise Nahmanides in his interpretation of
Shir ha-Shirim on the verse "You may have the thousand, O
Solomon" (8:12) says that at the beginning there will be a small
ingathering of exiles by permission of the leaders of the various countries, and
then G-d will stretch His hand again, as is written: "He will bring you
together again...and from there He will take you". We did not understand
the meaning of this "taking", until we found an explanation in the
words of the prophet Isaiah: "And from them likewise I will take some to
be levitical priests, said the Lord" (66:21). That is, even from those
places where there are not large numbers of Israelites, and even if the few that
are there are less worthy and less learned, even if they have no clear lineage
as priests and are not worthy of serving in the Temple, nevertheless Isaiah
states that "from them
likewise I will take..." that there should be...among them stalwarts
worthy to serve in the Temple and to be placed in the priestly
On the verse "Then the Lord your G-d will
open up your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love the Lord your G-d
with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live" (30:6), Netziv
is very precise, saying
One might think that "G-d will open up your
heart" means only the generation
that comes to Erez Yisrael will be special, as it was in the
days of Joshua, but not the following generations. Therefore the Torah writes
"and the hearts of your offspring". The promise is that the future
redemption will equally change your heart and that of your descendants
"to love the Lord your G-d," because during our sojourn outside the
Land even the most religious person cannot achieve total love of G-d because G-d
does not, as it were, cleave to us to bring upon
us the Holy Spirit [in the exile].
Netziv's words are daring: The Jew in the
Diaspora cannot achieve the highest stage of love of G-d despite all efforts on
his part, and that because the Lord does not "attach Himself to us"
while we are outside of the Land!
Therefore G-d must "circumcise our
hearts" at the time of the redemption in order to prepare us for the
proper love of Him with our arrival in the Land. In the final stage of
redemption, after "the Jews regain their lost honor", then will G-d
make all the nations pay for the cruelties they inflicted on the people of
"And he put all these curses..."
(Deut. 30:7); after the Jewish people arrive in Erez Yisrael and are gathered in
from among the nations, then G-d will punish the peoples that pursued Israel
during that time. Because first the Jews will regain their lost honor and then
those who deserve punishment will be punished.
Therefore, because we have, thank G-d, been
granted the early stages of the redemption, and the people of Israel have begun
to gather from both the lands of the heathen and the lands of the nations, some
openly and some clandestinely, we can only pray and hope that we will have the
privilege of seeing the following stages of redemption speedily in our