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Only after suffering the exile can we truly return.

Traveling Blues

Traveling Blues

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Traveling Blues
Only after suffering the exile can we truly return.

This Torah reading mentions the building of the Tabernacle in the desert. This tent was the symbol of the closeness of G‑d to His people, and this glorious period was in many ways a taste of the ultimate redemption. Rebbe Yossi and Rebbe Chiya were traveling and discussing Torah and dwelt on this topic, as well the long Exile the Jewish people are still in.

Rabbi Yossi said [to Rabbi Chiya that] all that you have said [about how extended the period of Exile will be] is correct. Nevertheless, what will enable Israel to endure this exile? It is all those promises that the Holy One Blessed be He has promised them. We have learned that that when they enter synagogues and study halls and see all those words of comfort [of the prophets], this gladdens their hearts and will enable them to bear all the suffering that is coming to them.

Rabbi Chiya agreed saying, "Certainly this is the case, but everything depends on returning to the spiritual source/teshuva. Now if you say that right now we can arouse all Israel as one to do teshuva [and thereby bring forward the ultimate redemption] we can not. What is the reason that we can't? It is because it is written: And it shall come to pass, when all these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, you shall call them to mind [while] among all the nations, where G‑d your Lord has driven you. And you will return to G‑d, and shall obey His voice. (Deut. 30:1). And then it is written: "If your outcasts have been driven out to the farthest parts of heaven, from there will the Lord your G‑d gather you, and from there He will fetch you." (Ibid. 4). Until all these things come to pass, they will not be able to arouse themselves to do teshuva. How blocked are all the roads and paths for all the sons of exile…

Rabbi Yossi said, "How blocked are all the roads and paths [leading to teshuva] for all the sons of exile. They have not been left an opening [to quicken the redemption], and if so they will be in exile as they were in each and every generation. They want neither to suffer the yoke of the exile, nor [to wait for] its reward. They abandoned the laws of the Torah and assimilated with the other nations."

[Rabbi Yossi] opened his explanation [of this phenomenon] with the verse: "Like a pregnant woman who draws near to the time of her delivery is in pain and cries out in her birth pangs, so have we been in your sight G‑d." (Isaiah 26:17). Why [are we likened to] a pregnant woman? It is normal for a pregnant woman to give birth after a full nine months. There are nevertheless those in the world who give birth within one or two days of reaching their ninth month. Now all of the contractions and [related] sufferings of a pregnant woman are in the ninth month, and even if only one day of the ninth month has passed, she is regarded as having had a full nine-month pregnancy. In the same way Israel, because they tasted the flavor of exile, if they return in teshuva, it would be counted for them as though they had suffered all of those reproofs that are written in the Torah. How much more so after so much suffering that has overtaken them from the day that the exile started.

In the light of the sufferings generated upon the Jewish people in their exile, teshuva would certainly bring the redemption quickly.


Zohar, pg. 188b; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also know by the acronym "Rashbi," lived in the Holy Land in the 2nd century C.E. A disciple of Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi played a key role in the transmission of Torah, both as an important Talmudic sage and as author of the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. He was buried in Meron, Israel, west of Safed.
Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand who made aliya to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.
The Zohar is a basic work of Kabbalah authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students (2nd century CE). English translation of annotated selections by Rabbi Moshe Miller (Morristown, N.J.: Fiftieth Gate Publications, 2000) includes a detailed introduction covering the history and basic concepts of Kabbalah. Volume 1 (36 pp.) covers the first half of the first of the original’s three volumes. It is available online from our store, KabbalaOnline Shop.
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