This week’s Parsha [Torah portion] is one considered Sasooma “closed”. There are some Parsheeyos that are “open” (Pasuach), and some that are “closed” (Sasoom). This is apparent in the way the verses are written. At times, the Torah finishes a thought and starts the new paragraph of the new Parsha on a new line. Those are called “open” Parsheeyos. Then, there are times when the Torah finishes a thought, there is some empty space in the scroll, and the new paragraph begins on the same line after the white space. That is called Sasoom. This week’s Parsha, there is no gap. The new paragraph begins right on the heels of the old. That means it is a “completely closed” Parsha. What is the message?
Yaakov wanted to tell his sons and grandsons the ending of history, to make the hard times more bearable so they know the where and when the salvation would come; but G-d took away the prophecy from Yaakov. The matter became “closed” from his mind. We need to struggle through the generations, knowing there is an end to our suffering, but not knowing when. Why?
V’Emunsacha Balaylos, during nights, during the dark periods, that is when our faith in G-d is tested.
The Chasam Sofer said something way before the tribulations of WWII. He said that oft times tragedies, wars and tribulations come much as a storm, to knock down rotted branches of the trees.
As storm winds blew through our end of town, I found it fascinating to look inside some of the knocked-down trees and limbs. Many of them looked healthy and whole on the outside, but once snapped off, you saw rot, decaying matter and hollowed out insides in many, many of them. By knocking out the diseased parts of the trees, the storm often leaves behind healthier trees with only healthy limbs attached.
Our trust, our faith, our insides, have to be healthy to withstand the trials and tribulations of history. During the “nights” when things look dicey and Jews still hold on with perfect faith, that shows the degree of attachment they have to G-d and the trust they have in Him. The question is whether we can we hang on to G-d during the darkest periods. It is a lesson of trust and faith. If we knew good times are just around the bend, well, then the dark periods wouldn’t be that much of a test.
One of the 13 Tenets of Belief of a Jew (as outlined by the Rambam) is the belief in the Final Redemption, and we say in the Ani Ma’amin “ve’af al pee sheyismahmay-ah” even if the Messiah tarries, we still have perfect faith he will come. You see, we can believe, but to keep believing even after a very l-o-o-o-o-n-g exile, that is a true test. And those who end up no longer believing, those who march off to other isms and away from G-d, they are just the dead limbs of the tree being pruned by the storms. Those who hold on past the storms are the healthy limbs that will keep the Jewish nation upright and alive.
Rebbetzin Newhouse (Zichrona Livracha) shared a story of what had happened once way back in Lithuania when she was a mere schoolgirl. She lived in a village and went to school in a city. At one point, on her way home, she took the train and was to be picked up by a carriage her father would send to collect her at the train depot. She got off the train and waited and waited. No wagon arrived. Yet, still she waited patiently, knowing her father would never have forgotten about his precious daughter. A wagon-driver, a wily creature dressed in rags and quite uncouth, decided to make some money depositing her at home. He asked her fellow passengers what they knew about that patiently-waiting girl. After learning she was waiting for a carriage her father would send and for which the father would pay, he came over to her and claimed to be the wagon-driver dispatched to get her. He motioned to his skinny horse and his uncovered wagon and told her to get on. She argued with him that it couldn’t be he who was the one designated to get her home and that she was staying right there at the depot until the real wagon-driver showed up. They argued, but there was no convincing her. She was quite sure there would be another driver and wagon and that it was just delayed somewhere. Sure enough, after a bit of time, another wagon, a way nicer one and more comfortable contraption, with a polite, more presentable driver showed up, dispatched by her father to get her. When questioned as to how she knew to wait, how she knew the other wagon driver was lying, she explained, “I knew my father and how he valued us girls. I knew, without a shred of doubt that he didn’t forget to send a wagon to get me. I also knew he loved us so much, there was no way he was sending that rattle-trap wagon and that boor of a driver to convey me home. When the second wagon showed up, now that was one I could picture my father sending to me.”
Her trust in her father was so complete she knew to wait for his conveyance and she recognized what wasn’t his pick.
We, Jews, if only we learned to trust our Father that way!! To wait for His salvation and to know, without a shred of doubt, it will be a salvation that is the finest and the best, not some rattle-trap one.
To test out our trust in Him, G-d made sure the knowledge and proofs of the Final Redemption would be “closed” to Yaakov so he would not share it with us, leaving us standing at the station depot waiting. Are you waiting there along with me, my friends?
One of the first songs I heard after the year of Shiva for my father was up was this one and I’m sharing — it is about those times of dark where within the darkness G-d stands. The words are:
G-d said ‘I will hide My face on that day.’
but the Rabbi [Nachman of Breslov] said, ‘even in the hiddenness within the hiddenness for sure G-d is found.’
In the hardest of times, within the darkest of times, I [G-d] stand within.