Rabbi David Walk
Over this past weekend I had a fascinating conversation with a bright, young congregant about the concept of redemption. This was refreshing, because much of the talk around shul these days is about football playoffs, both NCAA and NFL. And even though part of me would like to discuss the chances of the New England Patriots winning their fourth Super Bowl, the issue of redemption is infinitely more important, at least a lot more. Our discussion revolved around the topic of whether there can be redemption outside of
However, we've really been reading about the exile of
There's another problem. Isn't there always? When did the exile end, and when did our ancestors reach the proper spiritual level referred to as redemption? This is the topic of Nachmanides' (1194-1270) famous comment at the beginning of Exodus, 'The exile is not ended until the day of their return to their proper place, until they return to the level of their ancestors. When they left
So, exile and redemption can be delineated in different ways. Location is just one of many factors. In other words it's not like real estate values. However, there is another way of looking at the issue. We seem to record the descent to
We often view our great ancestors from these different vantage points. We begin our daily Shmoneh Esreh prayer by addressing God as the God of our Patriarchs and then we specify 'the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak and the God of Ya'akov.' We see these giants as both individuals and as the building blocks of a unified people.
From the point of view of Genesis, the exile may have started at different times for different elements of the tribe. There are both personal and national experiences. Likewise, the redemption phenomenon may have been perceived at different times for different individuals. Exile and redemption can be a personal event or development, as well as a national occurrence.
Now we can turn our attention to our initial inquiry. Can there be redeemed souls outside of
Those Chassidic Masters who encouraged their followers to try and undergo a redemptive sensation in the study halls and Chassidic courts of