A Father, His Children, and Faith: What Happened? by Leiby Deutsch


A story is told of a group of four Catholic priests who were witnessing the demise of their congregation in the community and were struggling to revive it. They finally turned to an old mystical Rabbi who spent much time in the woods surrounding their town. They asked the Mekubal their big question: How could they rebuild the community? The Mekubal responded to the priests, “I do not know how to revive your community, but what I do know is that one of you could be Mashiach.” The community then began to flourish after this encounter.

What could the Mekubal possibly have been doing when he told the priests that one of them could be Mashiach? Obviously none of them were truly Mashiach! The Mekubal was not saying this because it was true; rather, he did so in order to teach them an interesting lesson. A person must recognize his own importance, uniqueness, and talents. It is vital to want to be part of a group, but for a person to feel like he belongs in that group or to bring about change, he needs to feel like he is special. Because the priests felt like they were special people who could be Mashiach, everyone wanted to associate with them, and hence the community began to grow back.

The Jewish people are in essence Bnei UBenotei Malchut, sons and daughters of royalty, for the King is Hashem Himself. Bnei Yisrael are special and unique because they believe Hashem is their Creator, Father, and King.

This powerful lesson has the ability to shed light on the episode regarding Bnei Yisrael’s shortcomings in dealing with their desires for meat. The generation that left Egypt lost all faith. They didn’t believe that Moshe Rabeinu would take them out of Egypt and they worshiped the Eigel HaZahav out of fear that he wouldn’t return from Har Sinai.  If one were to analyze all of the sins that the first generation did in the desert and contrast them to what the second generation did not do, one would find that the common denominator is faith. The first generation was a slave generation, descending from almost two centuries of backbreaking labor. They were degraded to the lowest possible level, to the point of slavery and blind inferiority. They lost all faith in humanity, and thus, faith in God as well. They did not feel that they were special people or that Hashem would take care of them. They were not able to recognize Hashem as their Father, the omnipotent King who would take care of them, and thus, these generations needed grand revelations for them to have faith for even the shortest amount of time. As soon as they felt that the Man, the one object that they needed to sustain them, would not be able to accomplish that much, they lost faith. This inability to retain faith would warrant a new generation that believed in humanity and saw Hashem’s works all around them. They knew that they were a special group of people for it was their destiny to enter Eretz Yisrael. It was for this reason that they believed in God, since they knew that Hashem would take care of them as children. It is for this reason that the Chafetz Chaim selected this section of the Torah as proof that parents have no right to shirk their responsibilities towards their children just like Hashem never did.

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