Beha'alotkha: Nearly 'High Nun'

Bnei Yisrael stood at a great crossroads.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

Success, they say, is all about making the right choices: whom we marry, where we decide to live, what field of
We should have marched proudly behind the Aron into Israel and fulfilled our destiny then and there.
work we go into. Do I invest in General Dynamics or General Motors? While, of course, we believe in the concept of Hashgacha Pratit - that HaShem ultimately pulls the strings - we human beings still are given decisions to make, and are then held accountable for those decisions.

Bnei Yisrael stood at a great crossroads in our history. We had been liberated from Egypt, had become one unified nation, received the Torah at Mt. Sinai and built the Mishkan. Now, there was one more crucial step to take - to proceed directly and triumphantly to Eretz Yisrael, where we would establish the Jewish homeland for all eternity.

But then it all broke down. We degenerated into complaining against G-d and squabbling with each other. Moshe lost his temper (and his job!) when he castigated us as "rebels". The tragic episode of the spies would seal our fate and we would wander 40 years in the desert before crossing into Israel; and then it would be without Moshe Rabbeinu to lead us.

The twin, upside-down letters nun that surround the section that begins, Vay'hi binso'a haAron... in our sedra are there, says the Gemara, to indicate that this small section is a separate book, that could have - should have! - been written. We should have marched proudly behind the Aron into Israel and fulfilled our destiny then and there. But, alas, it did not turn out that way and the story is yet unfinished.

However, HaShem always gives us "second chances" to do teshuvah, to correct our past mistakes and make the right choice. And so, we could have heeded Ezra's call to return from Babylonia and rebuild the Bet HaMikdash, but relatively few Jews did so. We could have flocked to Eretz Yisrael in 1948 when the State of Israel was reestablished, but few (Western) Jews did. We could have acknowledged the mighty hand of G-d in 1967, when HaShem performed a nes galui, an "open miracle", and moved to Israel en masse. Some did, but most, sad to say, did not.
How long will the window of opportunity remain open?

The upside-down letters nun hint to a topsy-turvy world. The economy and currency of America are in a tailspin - while the shekel strengthens here every day - and still the Jews don't come (70% of American Jewry has never even visited Israel!). Jews are murdered in France and boycotted in the UK, but Aliyah from Europe is still just a trickle. Living in Israel is one of the Torah's most fundamental mitzvot, a Divine imperative and the focus of our entire history - and yet so many have not taken advantage of this wondrous opportunity to walk through a door that has been opened for the first time in 2,000 years.

How long will the window of opportunity remain open? At what point will HaShem "pull the plug" and the rug out from under the West? No one knows for sure, but it seems to me that "high nun" is fast approaching. We had better be prepared for the showdown.