For the past three weeks we were focused on the loss of our Temple and of our Land. For over two thousand years we have wandered through the desert of nations throughout the globe as homeless beggars. We would spend a century or two sometimes three or four in one land and move on to the next. Every year we sit on the floor on the eve of Tisha b’Av and mourn this loss, because we know that it is only a temporary loss. We know that HaShem will take us home once again. But the question that begs to be answered is “What are we to do? How do we get it back? How do we renew our relationship with HaShem to the position that it used to be?”
How fortunate we are to be given the Parsha of V’eschanan the Shabbos following Tisha b’Av! In this Parsha we are told who the culprit for this exile is and how we fell into it. With some insight perhaps we can beat back the culprit to renew our relationship, bring HaShem back into our lives and ultimately return to our Land and Temple.
Moshe, on the cusp of sending his people into the Land of Israel gives them words of caution. “When you shall have children and children’s children and you shall become old in the Land and will practice depravity … you will be lost, quickly lost, away from the Land… and HaShem will scatter you among the nations and you will remain few in number…”
There are two words in Hebrew which can be translated as old, yoshon and zaken. The former is used as the opposite of new and fresh, so that yoshon means old and worn, sleepy and tired, no longer fresh. The latter, on the other hand, is used as the opposite of young and inexperienced. So that zaken is to be understood as old with wisdom and experience. The word Moshe uses to describe the attitude of the later generations who will have been born in the Land is yoshon. The culprit of our demise will be that we have become yoshon, old and tired, sleepy and bored of our existence in the Land.
Moshe is cautioning his people that there will come in point in time in the future after we will be in the Land for many years when we will no longer appreciate the charm of the Land and the value that we have as dwellers of the Land. Our focus will no longer be on the closeness to HaShem that we have achieved through living in His Land. Consequently, HaShem will send us out and disperse us throughout the desert of nations. And we will find no respite from our weary traveling. Like a hunted bird we will fly from one rooftop to the next waiting for the next stone to be hurled at us. We will be all alone with no one else to share in our misery.
Our eyes will constantly look heavenward with hope that our dear Friend with Whom we were so close will protect us from this loneliness. In this constant flight we turn our faces longingly three times daily towards that Land, the Land which symbolizes our closeness to Him even when it lies in desolation.
Moshe tells his people that this picture will continue till the end of days at which time “When you are in distress and all these things have befallen you, at the end of days, you will return unto HaShem, He will not abandon you and He will not forget the covenant of your forefathers…”
Moshe expresses his confidence that although our lonely flight will endure throughout history, nevertheless, it will finally come to an end after all these things have befallen us and we will return to Him.
If the culprit of our exile is our becoming old and tired, sleepy and bored how can Moshe be confident that we will return to our original enthusiasm? From where will that fresh renewal come? Perhaps Moshe understood that all those years of yearning for closeness and turning our faces heavenward will condition us to always keep our focus on HaKadosh baruch Hu.
So what are we to do? How to do we get back? We must continue our constant imploring and davening to HaKadosh baruch Hu. With every difficulty that comes our way we must use it as an opportunity to draw ourselves close to Him. With every assault against our brothers and sisters in our Land we must beseech Him to please bring us to the end this long exile.
May we see the day that every heart will be filled with the joy of recognizing how dear it is to be close to HaShem.
Have a wonderful Shabbos.