I am the Lord, your God, who took you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be a God to you. Vayikra 25:38 26:35 Rashi comments: [To give you the land of Canaan,] to be a God to you: for I am a God to anyone who lives in the land of Israel, but anyone who leaves it [without halachic permission] is like one who worships idols. — [Torath Kohanim 25:77; Keth. 110b]
At first this commentary is difficult to understand. How can it be that the many G-d fearing Jews who guard the shabbos, keep family purity, and eat only kosher food are compared to someone who worships idols? Furthermore, it takes great mesirus nefesh to keep the Torah in galus. Isn’t this more praiseworthy than he who keeps the Torah while living in Eretz Yisrael where living a Jewish life is so much easier?
The answer was given to me by R’ Chaim, my barber. The Hebrew word for barber is סַפָּר. The Hebrew word for story is ספור. These words share the same root. It is natural for someone getting a haircut to share their story with the barber; perhaps this is why their root names are similar. Over the years R’ Chaim has heard many hundreds of stories from his clients. What he has discovered is that everyone has a story and each story is filled with an enormous amount of hashgacha pratis.
The Torah tells us that Hashem is watching what happens in Israel “from the beginning of the year until the end of the year”. It is a land full of miracles, so in this sense it is easy to see Hashem’s hand moving the events in our lives. In galus, however, Hashem is hidden, so it appears that life is conducted according to natural causes and events. People are lulled into thinking that they actually are in control of the results of their actions. This is a galus mentality.
In order to escape galus, and the galus mentality, we must constantly work on ourselves to realize that everything is from Hashem. There is no “cause and event”.
Therefore, the challenge of galus is twofold: 1) A person should not say “by my strength and by the might of my hand” I have accomplished so much. Such a person will remain in galus, or be exiled to galus, in order to learn that Hashem is the Master of the world. 2) A person should strive to see Hashem even when He is hiding, even when it appears that everything is working according to “nature”.
By looking deeper into the events of your life, whether you live in galus or in Israel, you will see that there is nothing natural about the events that led up to this very moment.
Over the years people have asked me if I would ever draw cartoons depicting some of the cases found in Yora Daya. Well, the answer is yes! I recently published a sefer called The Great Game of Kashrut. Click on the link to find out more: The Great Game of Kashrut
If you would like to dedicate a Davar Torah in honor of a special occasion or in memory of a beloved family member please contact Yisroel Simon at email@example.com.
Good Shabbos,R’ Channen