The worst experience anyone can have is betrayal.
Imagine trusting a friend, someone who was always available and always understanding and suddenly finding yourself in horrendous straits and the reason behind the quagmire is this best friend. Your mind simply refuses to accept such horrible shattering of trust. How is this possible? You try to explain it away somehow, but no matter what you do, reality smacks you right in the face: the facts are irrefutable. His part in it is undeniable. The pain over the treachery is far worse than physical pain, and no painkiller can dull the edge.
There is, however, something that could change it all instantly; If someone was to reveal to you that while your best friend was indeed behind the deed, there is a secret reason behind what he did:
“You were in tremendous danger – one that is far worse than anything you can possibly face,” that someone tells you: “And your friend was the only one who realized it. After wrecking his brain in trying to find an alternative solution, your friend realized that bringing you to the situation you find yourself in was the only way out. To be effective, you could not be told this before. So, with tear in his eyes and a heavy heart your friend did what he had to do with a single goal in his mind – your welfare.”
Now this little secret changes everything. The act of betrayal is revealed to be the most altruistic act of love. This is real friendship in its truest sense.
Am Yisroel is the most sublime creation this world can contain. The first steps of the fledgling nation where taken under the guiding hand of divine providence. Raised in a reality upholstered with miracles, the souls of Israel enjoyed evident Heavenly kindness at every step. And then, just when the Ya’acov Avinu plants the twelve holy tribes in the world, the gentle souls are suddenly subjected to the most horrible predicament possible. Suddenly, reality is literally pure torture.
They are imprisoned in the worst possible exile.
But their physical and spiritual anguish are dwarfed before the mere thought that their all-merciful, loving Father in Heaven has cast away his beloved son to a muddy swamp and left him, bleeding half to death, an easy prey to predatory animals. The thought alone was devastating.
The light of Moshiach
Going out of exile can happen only with the revelation of the light of the true redeemer; a ray of light from the universe of redemption. It is the illumination of the true sense, one that will cast light upon the desolation and dispel all doubts and pain by its very presence.
The Israelites’ primal cry arose from the very depth of their enslavement and opened for them the gates of salvation. “And they cried – and their call has ascended”. The mouth can utter such a cry only when there’s faith and understanding in the heart that it is not possible for a Father to totally forsake his child. Only when one realizes that there must be a reason behind this, that an awesome primal call tear all obstacles and beg Hashem to reveal Himself.
Moshe Rabbeinu is both the past and future redeemer. He is the one who whispers the secret into ears that were all but shut by exile and hard labor. Hashem sends His beloved emissary to a wretched nation, instructing him to reveal to them the truth. Moshe is instructed to tell them that their loving Father has never left them. That while the terrible situation they find themselves in is, indeed, his handiwork – it was done for their eternal benefit.
‘Though you cannot fathom it now,’ He tells them, ‘There will come a time when you’ll realize just how much compassion was delivered in the various exiles.’
The ten plagues … the impossible exodus in the break of dawn … the deliverance upon the wings of eagles …the Matzohs upon the shoulders that were followed by a Heavenly retribution and the splitting of the Red Sea – all those can happen only after an exile. Cruel, pagan, enslaving Egypt was vital in creating the fertile ground for most awesome revelation of G-dliness the world has ever seen before or since. It is the Egyptian pride that brought the people of Israel to see the love their Father has for them.
Exile equals lack of comprehension
Exile isn’t necessarily the enslavement and the pain. The crux of an exiled existence is the lack of understanding of why I am suffering.
It’s the scorching feeling of betrayal and abandonment and the lurking fear that I have been forgotten and forsaken in a horrible predicament. This is the true horror of exile.
The light of Moshiach appears wherever and whenever one calls for enlightenment. It happens when you beg Hashem to show you the points of light within the darkness. It happens when you beg Him to show you that what you’re going through leads you to your destiny.
Exile is hard. It leaves in its wake smoldering ruins, the ashen remains of the glory of Israel. The spiritual exile is something each and every one of us experiences. Torah, prayer, clear presence of mind, all these are lost during exile. Many times, between one breathless hustle to the next, an annoying question arises – maybe it’s all for naught? Maybe I’m suffering for nothing? And the torturing question of ‘Why’ raises its ugly head.
The light of redemption is revealed by a cry that emanates from the understanding that Hashem never left you. There is no such thing as ‘suffering for nothing’. Exile is there to reveal a far deeper love. Enslavement is the bedrock of salvation. In every darkness there are points of light. Indeed, in every hour of distress you can discover anew Hashem’s unconditional love.
It’s all possible once you know the secret.