Shabat Hagadol

Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have said that since we were redeemed from Slavery during the month of Nisan the future redemption will also occur during this season. This future redemption will even eclipse the one from Egypt. What does this mean to our every day lives?

We have come to believe that you must be deceitful in order to succeed. Some of us fool ourselves into believing that people who are successful are in reality miserable people who have no real friends. Others say that the deceitful people are getting rewarded in this world and will burn in the next.

The majority of honest people have simply come to believe that there is no justice in the world! In our Haftara of Shabat Hagadol the Prophet Malachi twice deals with such an attitude. In the beginning of chapter three, which is just before the beginning of our reading, Malachi tells the people:

You have tired G-d with your attitudes! You said, ‘How did we tire him?’ [Malachi answers] ‘Because you said who ever does bad is good.’

I have often heard people boast about how they succeed at taking advantage of their customers. “I sold one thousand dozen of junk and we have lots of return customers,” they say.

Their is very little for us to say about this since we see that they get away with and they even get rich. Malachi says that in the future:

I [G-d] will come close to you in Judgement, and I will be a fastidious witness against sorcerers and adulterers and those who swear falsely and against those who do not pay their employees on time, the widow and the orphan and who deny the stranger his rights, and they do not fear me, says the G-d of Hosts.

That is to say that when Eliyahu comes G-d will set all of these crooked people straight. People, Governments and corporations will no longer get away with oppressing people. Even if these activities are “legal.”

Many Torah observant people today have come to believe that it is a healthy lifestyle to be religious. How do they deal with the present situation where Democracy is based on electing someone who is almost definitely a creep? They inevitably throw up their hands in despair and give up believing in justice! It is to these people that the prophet Malachi is talking to. They do not want to give up a Torah lifestyle but they see that bad people benefit. He reassures them that there will come a time when G-d will show the real difference between good people and those who are righteously challenged.

Later in the Haftara Malachi quotes the people as saying:

It is a waste of time to serve G-d, What do we get for serving G-d, When we watched his rules we walked liked blackened mourners for the sake of the G-d of Hosts. And now we are looking up to criminals, the wicked are built up they have also tested G-d and escaped.

Many have given up hope that G-d will punish the wicked. Malachi responds to this attitude by guaranteeing that G-d will record all of their good activities. In the future you will be able to easily see the true differences between those who serve G-d and those who do not.

Malachi finishes off his prophesies and ends the era of Prophets by reminding the people:

Remember the teaching of Moshe my servant that I commanded him on on all of the people of Israel statutes and judgments. Behold, I am sending to you Eliyahu the Prophet, before the day of G-d, the great and awesome day. And he will return the hearts of the fathers on the children and the hearts of the children on the fathers, lest I come and smite the land with destruction.

Malachi wants the people to always remember the teaching of the Torah which was given to us through Moshe. It is not sufficient to just fix a couple of problems which exist. The whole nation must constantly remember the teachings of the Torah. Through constant Torah study justice and the laws of G-d can be established.

Eliyahu is best known for his war against Idolatry His great moment was when a heavenly fire burnt an offering to G-d and ignored the one to Baal. At that moment the whole nation on Mount Carmel yelled out, “G-d is the Lord, G-d is the Lord!” Eliyahu had brought the hearts of the nation close to G-d and close to each other. When he returns and ushers in the days of Mashiach he will once again return the hearts of the people where they belong.

If the people do not serve G-d in Unity then the destruction will come. If the Jewish people are divided that is a recipe for destruction of the Land of Israel. True Jewish unity does not exist without Torah. The cultural attitudes of selfishness which are prevalent will not go far. Even if everyone agrees on certain issues and it seems that there is unity. If these issues are against the Torah it is not really unity but selfishness.