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The Freedom Banner
"Abba, I saw something very interesting this morning."
"What was it, Avi?"
"An airplane was flying along slowly across the sky. Attached to its tail was a banner with a message written on it. Everyone was looking up at the banner to read the message."
"That is interesting, Avi. Perhaps that is the way that the Yishaya's prophesy will be fulfilled."
"Which prophesy, Abba?"
"The one that we pray for three times a day, in the tenth bracha of the Amida. 'Sound the great shofar for our freedom, raise a banner to gather our exiles, and gather us together from the four corners of the earth.' Yishayaii Yishaya 11:12 prophesized, 'He will raise a banner for the nations, assemble the castaways of Israel, and He will gather in the dispersed ones of Yehuda from the four corners of the earth.'iii Abudarham, Iyun Tefillah, Maggid Tsedek Perhaps the banner that publicizes the geula to the nations will be borne aloft by an airplane."
"I hope we see that banner very soon, Abba. While we are on the subject, can you please explain this bracha to me?"
"With great pleasure, Avi. When Yaakov Avinu came to Mitzrayim and the brothers all gathered together with Yosef, the Malochim (heavenly angels) said, 'Blessed are You Hashem, Who gathers in the dispersed of His people Yisrael.'iiii Levush in Otzer HaTefillos Our Elders subsequently fixed these words as the closing of the blessing. This is actually a pivotal bracha. Until now, all of the blessings have contained requests for the individual's welfare. The next series of eight brochos are appeals for the Jewish nation as a whole. They detail the events that will occur in the final geula, and how one will follow from the other. In the tenth blessing, we appeal to Hashem for freedom from the oppression of the exile, and an ingathering of the Jews scattered around the globe. Once all of Klal Yisrael is in its place, the judicial system (Sanhedrin) can be restored. The Sanhedrin can then judge and sentence the wicked ones. Once all evil is wiped off the earth, then the crown of the tsaddikim can be raised up for all to see. There will be nothing preventing Hashem from returning to Yerushalayim, rebuilding it, and restoring the throne of the kingship of the house of Dovid HaMelech. Then the gates of tefillah will be opened and the avodah (Temple service) will be restored to its original glory."iiv Iyun Tefillah "It sounds magnificent, Abba. I can hardly wait."
"Your tefillos and teshuva can actually hasten the process, Avi."
"How is that, Abba?"
"I will explain. There is a famous question asked by the meforshim. The seventh bracha contains the request, 'redeem us speedily for Your Name's sake.' The tenth bracha asks for the ingathering of the exiles, which is the beginning of the redemption. What is the difference between the two? The Achareis Lishalomvv in Otzer HaTefillos relates that each bracha represents a different way that the geula can come. The tenth bracha appeals to Hashem to redeem us for our merits. We are referred to as 'His people, Yisrael'. We have done the teshuva necessary to earn the recognition as Hashem's nation, and therefore merit the geula. The seventh bracha speaks about the mistreatment that we receive at the hands of the nations. 'Hashem, free us because our captors abuse us and do not deserve to keep us.' Therefore, this bracha concludes, 'Blessed are You Hashem, redeemer of Yisrael'. You carry out the entire redemption yourself. So we see the tenth bracha speaking about the teshuva of every Jew making us fitting to be redeemed and hastening the geula."
"What an incentive to do teshuva!"
"Indeed. Other meforshim explain that there are two geulas - geulas haguf (the redemption of the body) and geulas haneshama (the redemption of the soul). The geulas haguf precedes the geulas haneshama; therefore, it is mentioned first, in the seventh blessing.vvi Shela in Maggid Tsedek and Eitz Yosef Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch makes the distinction between the individual's redemption (bracha seven) and the national geula (bracha ten). Both necessitate teshuva before the geula can come. Lastly, the seventh blessing requests deliverance from daily troubles, while the tenth one beseeches Hashem for the final geula.vvii Artscroll Siddur"
"How can I improve my kavannah (concentration) in this bracha, Abba?"
"The Mesillas Yesharimvviii Chapter 19 - serving Hashem beyond the letter of the law advocates feeling distress about the golus (exile) and the churban (destruction) which both diminish the honor of the Almighty. We should always pray for the geula and the return of kovod Shomayim (the honor of heaven). When we are in golus, the Shechina (Divine Presence) is in exile along with us. When the dispersed of Klal Yisrael will return from the golus, the Shechina will also return.iix Yesod Vi'shoresh Ho'avodah The words, 'and gather us together' refer to the unity of the gathering. Once we have national unity, there is nothing preventing the Shechina from returning.xx Maggid Tsedek
"And so we pray, 'Sound the great shofar'. What is the great shofar? The ram of Yitzchak had two horns. The left one became the shofar that Hashem blew at Har Sinai. The right one is bigger than the left. Hashem will blow it at the kibbutz galuyos (ingathering of the exiles).xxi Pirkei Rebbe Elozer This will be the fulfillment of the prophecy, 'It shall be on that day that a great shofar will be blown'.xxii Yishaya 27:13 'For our freedom'. Take us out our captivity amongst the nations.xxiii Abudarham 'And raise a banner to gather our exiles, and gather us together from the four corners of the earth'. We explained this prophesy earlier. Another reason that we long for the redemption is to fulfill the mitzvos that are dependent upon all of Klal Yisrael residing in Eretz Yisrael.xxiv ????, ??? ???? ??? ??? ????, ??? ?????, ??? ?????, ?? ???? (????? ??.) 'Blessed are You Hashem, Who gathers in the dispersed of His people Yisrael.' The geula will come when we are fitting to be called His people, when we have returned to Him in teshuva shelayma."xxv Iyun Tefillah in Otzer HaTefillos
"Speedily in our days, Amen!"
Kinderlach . . .
We feel the tsar of the golus. We long to see Hashem's kovod restored to His people and His Land. We strive to do teshuva and we pray for the final redemption. We are anxious to hear the great shofar and see the banner raised for our freedom. The wording of the blessing describes the sequence of the events. Firstly Hashem will remove the yoke of subservience, 'sound the great shofar for our freedom'. Then He will gather the exiles into one place, 'and raise a banner to gather our exiles'. After that, we will go upright to our Land, 'and gather us together from the four corners of the earth'.xxvi Dover Shalom in Kavannas HaLev Kinderlach, may we all see each other there on that great day.
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