Smash! - Bang! - Connect?
Have you been hearing such pronouncements as “We’re pre-messianic”, or “This is the generation of Ikvesa d’mashicha” and the like?
Imagine being a teen or young adult and trying to figure out what your future looks like if Mashiach is right around the corner.
‘When Mashiach comes I’m gonna be so busy posting my friends. It’ll be totally awesome to share our redemption stories!’
‘OMG! What was that siren? Maybe that’s Gog U’magog?! Wars are so scary - where can I hide?! What do you mean what’s so scary? I’ll die of embarrassment if I have to sit in one of those shelters and I didn’t have time to do my hair and nails!’
Or the evasive child…
‘It’s OK, Ma, I don’t really have to go to my learning seder now. I understand that we’re pre-messianic, anyway I won’t be considered a very good bochur once the Tanaim and Amoraim are back…’
But even pre-messianic requires us to continue building the future – perhaps our children will leave our ‘Mitzrayims” and be the generation to enter the promised –Land.
If we were to choose one common action that historically preceded processes towards our full national redemption, what might it be?
1. Becoming a Nation: At the inception of our People stood Avrohom Avinu. What was the first activity that turned him into an ‘Ivri’?
When Avram smashed the idols of his father, he created a precedent that we will refer to as shvirat ha’elilim. With that heretical act, he stood apart from the rest of the civilized world and clinched his position in the Divine limelight, making him our first patriarch to be.
2. As Yaakov left Lavan’s house with his little clan of ‘Bnei Yisroel’ in tow - minus Binyamin - Rochel (who is also a pre-messianic figure) saw fit to take the trafim, little idols, of her father. On the cusp of fully populating the house of Yaakov, she attempted to do away with the last vestiges of avodah zara from her father’s house. About this act, Rabbeinu B’Chaye explains that the Master of the World similarly ‘promises’ that He will remove the remains of foreign worship from Rochel’s descendants at the time of Mashiach.
3. The plagues were the first stage of decimating the avoda zara of Egypt which adhered to our people in Mitrayim like a contagious virus. The plague of blood and frogs conquered the revered Nile. Subsequently, the Egyptian’s beliefs in their bodies, their wealth, their animals, their idols – were all dashed in plagues such as kinim, dever, boils, hail, darkness and mostly the plague of the first-born.
But the final blow to the avodah zara was the korban pesach, featuring whole roasted lamb that was consumed publicly, since sheep were idolized in Egypt.
4. During the conquest of nations of Kna’an under the leadership of Yehoshua Bin Nun, as the Jewish People entered Eretz Yisroel, the process of conquest required the locating and decimating of avoda zara which was rife throughout the land.
What’s the common denominator for nation-hood, national redemption and settling our land? Shvirat Ha’Elilim! Smash all of those false beliefs! Eradicate all remnants that threaten to stand between us and the ultimate truth; between us and our Father in Heaven.
As your child seeks to go about the daunting tasks of establishing his/her identity, forging relationships and settling their ‘homeland’ in a world where the term ‘confusing’ is a simplistic understatement – how can we guide them? How are they meant to build the future of our nation in this pre-messianic era?
Healthy relationships, especially marriage, are redemptive. They are the process by which we come home to our Creator.
But succeeding at these processes is predicated on ‘shvirat ha’elilim’.
What false beliefs can we banish in order to make room for healthy development, relationships and families?
How about these examples:
Shoshi had lots of friends. Who was more socially connected than Shoshi? Over three hundred friends on facebook, seven whatsapp groups, and fielding SMS’s with activities sandwiched in between. What would happen if Shoshi would ‘pull the plug’ on all of those social connections? Would she be less connected or more?
When a shidduch candidate is suggested, is one of your child’s central questions ‘what does s/he look like?’ Is your child (or are you…) unwilling to consider a candidate on the basis of a verbal description of their appearance, but conditioning agreement to the suggestion on receiving a photograph? What if your child (or you) were to smash the belief that external appearances are central to the success of the marital relationship – would your child (or you) have an easier time connecting to the internal qualities of the candidate?
“The boy’s mother wants to know how much you’re prepared to give.” Asked the shadchan pointedly.
I cringed. What was I to answer? Could I possibly come up with a higher dowry by working more hours? I was already teaching full time plus tutoring in the evenings. Even if I had forty hours in my day, I wouldn’t be able to come up with the kind of sums that the ‘quality’ yeshiva families were demanding. Our debts from the previous three daughters who, thank G-d, found their matches one after the other was already a hurdle I’d need many years to tackle.And what about my husband? Should we sacrifice his erudite status as a torah scholar on the altar of shidduchim?
Or – is it possible, that the problem isn’t us, but rather the boy’s family who are more dedicated to the astronomical sums they can demand than the Torah or marital harmony of the couple and their families?
We all harbor false beliefs that beg to be banished, lest they prevent us from realizing our personal moments of redemption. The question is less often if there are ‘elilim’ to smash, but rather how to identify them.
Are you honest about who you really are? What is your true destination at your redemptive moment? In what way are your connections shallow or unsatisfying? What social messages are you ‘buying into’ that may be steering you away from rather than towards divine connection? Is there a way that you may be lying to or deceiving yourself?
And, of course, these questions as applied to yourself are even more relevant for your child who is pining to carry on in this pre-messianic era.
Mom, how can you illuminate the way for your child by pointing out the ‘elilim’ that stand in your child’s way?
May we and our children walk hand in hand towards the ultimate redemption!
 At the time of Mashiach. See Rabbeinu B’Chaye 31:19, and Yeshayahu 2:18.