In a lecture delivered by Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto shlit”a regarding contemporary times, he describes the singular proven method to merit salvation in these days of evil * Torah and chessed safeguard one from all harm * The spiritual forces that battled in heaven throughout every war in history * Subjugating forces of evil in the world * Without our efforts to subdue negative heavenly forces, the world degenerates to destruction and ruin *
In Parshas Mattos we notice a fascinating point: Moshe Rabbeinu assembles Klal Yisrael’s leaders and commands them to go out to war against Midian in order to glorify the Name of Hashem. “Take revenge for the children of Israel against the Midianites;” (Bamidbar 31:3). Yet when Hakadosh Baruch Hu delivers the command to Moshe regarding the same war, He ascribes it to the glory of the Jewish people: “Take revenge for the children of Israel against the Midianites” (ibid 31:2).
What is the disparity between these two statements? We draw a powerful foundation from this point.
Every nation has a heavenly angel representing it in the heavens. At the hour that their angel ascends, the nation rises; and at the hour that their angel descends, so the nation falls. Moshe Rabbeinu entreats the leaders of each Tribe to venture out to war for the Honor of Hashem while he, Moshe, battles the Midianites’ angel in the heavenly spheres. Thus, when their angel falls and is subdued, so the nation shall be vanquished on earth.
When Bnei Yisrael battled the Amalekites in the Wilderness, Moshe, Aharon and Chur fought against Amalek’s angels in the heavenly spheres while Yehoshua and the nation battled Amalek on earth. A parallel situation transpired during the war against Midian; Elazar Hakohein fought alongside the nation’s leaders and one thousand soldiers from each Tribe in the lower world, while Moshe Rabbeinu fought a spiritual war with the Midianites’ angel in the heavenly spheres.
Indeed, since the dawn of time, we have seen world powers obliterated concurrent to the fall of their heavenly agent. Since the world adopted a pattern of kingdoms, every rise and fall of a world power occurred parallel to the ascent and descent of its angel in heaven, and we find that no other nation has endured the throes of time except Am Yisrael. Moreover, when angels vie against each other in the heavenly spheres, the nations of the world engage in combat down on earth, which is the underlying concept of “Oseh shalom bimromav, He makes peace in the heavens.”
We are living in exceedingly challenging, painful times, an era when even the heavenly angels do not know which way to turn. Since the days of Dor Haflagah, when Hashem scattered the inhabitants of the world into seventy nations with seventy languages and seventy angels, we have not witnessed such confusion or disarray in creation. Indeed, there is nary a nation, people or country that can define itself of what Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants of His world.
What is it that Hashem desires? Just one thing: That we return to the straight, true path.
Unfortunately, our world has lost all values, breached all mores and convention. That which was once prohibited is permissible, while the permissible has become forbidden. Days follow weeks, weeks follow months, months follow years, and still there is no solution, no clarity. People wander in barren land, groping blindly through the dark, and there is no wisdom, force or counsel to guide them to truth. Even those who profess to have discovered truth or possess wisdom ultimately discover the folly of their ways as they lead the world and society into a new cycle of disillusionment.
Our world has degenerated to lack basic values, morals and principles; and even grave tragedies have ceased to shock people back to their senses. This is a generation that believes that its own strength shall lead it to triumph, yet we find that one closed door pursues the next, and one pain follows another. Grief trails grief, and affliction pursues affliction. All that can save us now is ahavas chinam—unconditional love, giving, appreciating, and feeling the pain of our friend, while perceiving only his attributes and never his failings.
One person rises against another, and believing that he has slightly more strength than the other, seeks to destroy him. Yet some time later, the tables turn, and the latter is capable of exacting his revenge upon the man. Yet this is not the satisfaction that we’ve been awaiting and craving and anticipating throughout two millennia of exile! Money, pride, and the pursuit of vanity have only led us from one calamity to the next, to greater fear, grief, and loss.
With copious tears and a broken heart, I beseech all members of our congregation to please forgive and pardon one another, to identify the positive traits of our friends as opposed to their failings, to judge everyone favorably, and even those who may have once harmed us deeply.
Our Holy Temple was destroyed due to the sin of senseless hatred, and this sin remains since the times when Yosef was sold by his brothers. It prosecutes against us year after year, demanding retribution for the sin of selling Yosef for shoes and dreams that never existed.
This baseless hatred, that began on the 9th of Av when the Spies delivered negative reports of Eretz Yisrael, remains instilled within us every day, and it is incumbent upon us to uproot it from our hearts.
Due to our many sins, one who understands kabbalistic concepts can glimpse the two hazardous forces Machlas and Lilis uniting, endangering us all. Once they unite, they do not separate until they destroy all goodness. This is what occurred during the destruction of the First Temple and Second Temple, in the times of the Spanish Expulsion, and once again during World War One and World War Two…
It is our duty to remove the precious from the filth, to sever it from the negative forces, and to disconnect and vanquish these treacherous powers. Since the toxic unification of these dark forces in the world, the only means of salvation is submission and genuine humility!
Unfortunately, due to our many sins, our nation has downed the bitter cup of poison in the past, yet we beseech Hakadosh Baruch Hu not to allow tragedy or devastation to strike again, and we pray and weep from the bottom of our hearts: “Let us repent to Hashem!”
Let us draw closer to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, let us distance ourselves from conflict and evil speech, and cleave with holiness to the foundations and growth that we acquired during these distressing times—to daily Torah learning, to the study of Sefer Devarim, to giving tzedakah regularly, and to helping each and every Jew, even if he may have once intentionally harmed us.
Then, we shall surely merit extrication the evil and cleaving to all that is good, and then we shall be spared war and tragedies…
Signing in grief, pain and bitter anguish,
Your Servant Yoshiyahu Yosef