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by Daneal Weiner
The Zohar intimates that the generation which was enslaved in Egypt, they were the souls of the people of the Generations of the Flood and of the Dispersion. Their punishment came measure for measure. Brick laying and building, for the latter generation who built a tower to fight G-d, and being drowned in the Nile for the former generation, whose punishment was already to be drowned, but once was not enough.
The Gemorah Berachos asks what the name Ruth means? Rabbi Yochanan answers that she was graced that David would descend from her who would delight Hashem with his songs. The two letter root of delight- rivahu, is the same two letter root of Ruth. The Gemorah continues, “How do we know that the name causes it?” In Bereishis, our forefathers and the 12 tribes were seemingly named regarding events about their childbirth. So the event leads to the name. Here, however, the birth of David comes long after his great grandmother was named Ruth. If we claim the name caused the event, how do we know this is so?
Rabbi Eliezar answers, “For it says in the Torah, ‘Come behold the works of Hashem, what shammos- desolations He has set on the earth.’ Don’t read it shammos, but rather shaimos- names.” Shamah is desolation that one is mishtomeim, astonished as to the severity of it.
describes our servitude in Egypt. A nation born into such a wretched state, can they help but wonder, in astonishment, what sins they committed to deserve such an existence? If they only had had a free moment to have the choice to commit any sin, let alone of the magnitude for that which they bear.
Great is G-d’s deliberation and grand are His schemes, as He considers all accounts of all souls of all generations. The souls which suffered in Egypt were the souls which sinned in the Generations of the Flood and Dispersion. Those were sins which were so great Hashem altered the face and nature of the earth in their wake.
The souls of the generation of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem were the souls of the generation of the Jews in the desert who had built the golden calf.
The souls of the generation of Tach v’Tat were the souls of the Biryonim, Jewish militants at the end of the Second Temple era who would not listen to the Torah leaders and who caused untold suffering and death within the walls of Jerusalem.
So who are the souls of the generations who endure the suffering of the birth pangs of the Mashiach? Great is G-d’s deliberation and grand are His schemes. Every generation has a point and a purpose. Every person of every generation. And every soul has a name, which is its reason for having descended into the world.
That’s why this book of Torah opens saying, “And these are the names of the Children of Israel” even though we just listed their names two parshas ago. Because, whereas then they were names of Jews going into exile, now, the Midrash explains, they are names of Jews on the verge of redemption.
We learn this parsha that just as their servitude and bondage was increased, accordingly was their redemption advanced. They didn’t suffer for suffering sake. They suffered for redemption sake. When 400 years was lived out in less than 100, the account was settled. They were set free.
Shamah, as we said, is a devastation that brings astonishment to those who behold it. Possibly this is the reason we find the same two letter root in the word Shamayim- heaven. The heavens also awaken a feeling of astonishment in those who behold it. It too is something beyond our comprehensions. Beyond our calculations. David Hamelech wrote, Ps. 46:9, “Go and see the works of Hashem Who has wrought shamos in the land.” He also wrote, what we say every day in the morning, Ps. 147:4, “[Hashem] counts the number of the stars, to all of them He assigns shaimos.”
The shaimos of shamayim and shamos of earth are all part of Hashem’s awesome and astonishing designs. Of course, every design must be towards some purpose. Chashav machashavos levilti yidach mimenu yidach- [The King] ponders thoughts so that no one be banished from Him. Each soul with his/her own mission, so that they may pass from this transient world and attain the greatest possible enjoyment for eternity.
Don’t see the shamos. See the shaimos. Better still, the Accountant, Himself, tells us Teshuva, tfilla u’tseddakah ma’avirin es roah hagezairah. True repentance, heartfelt prayer and charity are shortcuts to bringing our balance to zero. With it my all Israel merit an advanced end to our suffering and being led to newly built Temple in Jerusalem.
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