Moshe Klausner

Pesach, Redemption, and the Call to Return

Pro Hamas Protester at Columbia University

When reading about the horrifying antisemitism sweeping across America, in ways once not thought possible, and most shockingly yesterday at Columbia University with open calls to murder Jews, I thought about the following idea.

Possibly the most famous words of Shir HaShirim, which many of us will be reading this week in shul on Shabbat Chol Hamoed, are the following words: (Song of Songs 5:2)

“אני ישנה וליבי ער קול דודי דופק פתחי לי… ”
“I am asleep but my heart is awake, my beloved’s voice, he is knocking, open up for me…!”

God is asking the Jewish people to let him in.

But the Jewish people responded: (ibid 5:3)
“פשטתי את כתונתי איככה אלבשנה, רחצתי את רגלי איככה אטנפם”,
“I have taken off my dress, how can I put it on again? I have already washed my feet, how can I dirty them again”.

The Metzudat David and other commentators explain that God was telling the Jews that the time of the Babylonian exile was ending. “I’m knocking on your door to tell you to come home to Eretz Yisrael.” Ezra has already begun the process, and you just need to join. But the Jewish people responded that they were comfortable in exile and had no intention of returning en masse.

After that, the Jews had a change of heart and wanted to come back, but by then it was too late, as the passuk then says: (ibid 5:6)

“פתחתי אני לדודי ודודי חמק עבר.”
“I rose to open the door for my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone.”

Growing up in America, at least to an extent, I personally felt a feeling of belonging and that what happened in the 1930’s Europe would not happen here. As the pesukim here relate, we became very comfortable and complacent during exile. Though that feeling gradually began to change, and quite drastically since October 7.

Next Shabbat we will be hearing these words once again. God is beseeching us, “פתחי לי, open the door for me!”.

We now have approximately half of world Jewry back in Israel, and though we face enormous and very difficult challenges ahead, the door has at least opened.

Our job in this generation is to not repeat our previous mistakes by responding back “פשטתי את כתונתי איככה אלבשנה”, that I am comfortable where I am so leave me alone.

Even if due to legitimate circumstances, coming to Israel is not possible for many people, the feeling should not be “I am comfortable here, why in the world would I move?”

The lesson for all of us is to at least have a longing that one day we will be able to return, and to have a sense of healthy discomfort when we are far away from our true home.

May this Pesach usher in peace and redemption, speedily in our days.

About the Author
Moshe Klausner lives in Ramat Bet Shemesh, originally from New Jersey. He is a father to three active boys. He is a Speech Pathologist by profession, working locally in Bet Shemesh and at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, specializing in voice disorders. He also lains each Shabbos at shul. He loves Torah, Israel, and the Jewish people.
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