Our Sages teach that since the Creation of the world, G-d was never as joyous as today, the first day of Nissan, when the Mishkan was erected in the wilderness after the sin of the Golden Calf.
The Divine Presence shines over the Children of Israel
Truly, one can feel a special simcha on this day. Last night, after saying Psalms at the Kotel with Rav Leon Levi, we sang and sang to greet the month of our Redemption, confident that just as we were redeemed from the bondage of Egypt in this month, we shall also be redeemed now from the last vestiges of the exiles of Europe and the USA.
Rosh Chodesh with Rav Leon
In the morning, after singing Hallel, and asking G-d in the Musaf prayer to return all of our scattered outcasts to the Land of Israel from Brooklyn and England and South Africa, we went into a neighborhood orchard to recite the blessing over the first budding of fruit trees, thanking G-d for providing for all of our needs.
Thanking G-d for His goodness
Russian immigrants boxing matzah
Then, it was time to make matzot with a group of Rabbis from Mercaz HaRav, accompanied with more singing and the heightening joy of the mitzvah and Pesach’s approach.
The cause of G-d’s original joy when He created the world was that He now had a place to bestow the goodness of His Divine Presence, the Shechinah, on His creations. But the sins of mankind, culminating in the sin of the Golden Calf, caused the Divine Presence to flee. With the establishment of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), G-d’s Presence returned once again, along with His original joy in being able to “dwell” amongst his Chosen Nation, the Children of Israel.
With the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem), the Divine Presence once again went into a long and painful exile, and joy ceased from the world. “How can we sing the L-rd’s song in a foreign land,” the Psalmist bitterly exclaimed (Tehillim, 137:4). Ever since His People’s departure from His Land, G-d has been shedding anguished tears.
Certainly, in the last 2000 years, G-d’s happiest day was the foundation of the Jewish State in Israel, when the Shechinah returned to the world.
Happiest Day in 2000 Years
All other historic events are dwarfed in its light. In comparison with the incredible sanctification of Hashem that occurred in Tel Aviv with the dramatic declaration of Jewish statehood, all other historic milestones are like pages scattered in the wind, whether it be the discovery of America, Bastille Day, or the landing of man on the moon. On that day, joy returned to the word after nearly 2000 years as the Psalmist declares: “When the L-rd brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with ringing song” (Tehillim, 126:1-2).
Columbus and the beginning of assimilation
We have already written a few blogs back that the ingathering of the exiles is the greatest sanctification of G-d that there is, as the Psalmist verifies in the continuation of his Psalm: “Then it was said amongst the nations, ‘The L-rd has done great things for them.’”
As if sensing the inner spiritual connection between the month of Nissan and Israel Independence Day, Israeli flags began appearing this morning all over the city, on cars, terraces, store windows and rooftops. The joy of spring, of renewal and redemption, is in the air. My wife even grabbed me and spun me around in a small dance, as if suddenly possessed by the joyous spirit of the month.
Of course, we are still in the Redemption’s beginning. As more exiles return to our Land, the Divine Presence will shine ever brighter over our borders. As the Torah returns to its full glory, our joy will increase. For those of us who have been blessed to reach the Land, we have to strengthen the joy that we feel in being here. And for the unfortunate others who have not yet arrived, they must do everything they can to join in the Redemption. Their joy and the joy of the nation depend on it.