DAY 17: REDEMPTION AND REPENTANCE
Updated: May 31, 2020
Regarding the coming of the Redemption, our Sages taught, “This matter depends only on repentance.” The Rambam likewise writes that “The Torah has promised that the Jewish people will ultimately repent at the end of their exile, and will immediately be redeemed.” For three reasons, however, the fulfillment of this condition will not block the coming of the future Redemption.
(a) There is no Jew who has not had a thought of repentance at least a few times in the course of his life. And one such thought of repentance transforms even an utter rasha into a perfect tzaddik. This principle is reflected in the Halachah: “If a man betroths a woman ‘on condition that I be a tzaddik,’ then she is betrothed, for he may have had a thought of repentance in his heart.”
(b) Those of our contemporaries who are not yet observing the Torah and its commandments, are only tinokos shenishbu, “captive infants” who are victims of duress — and “The Torah exonerates a victim of duress.” Indeed, a single mitzvah performed by someone in this situation is immeasurably precious in the eyes of G‑d. And it is precisely in this generation that tens of thousands of “captive infants” have returned, and are returning, to the path of the Torah.
(c) The Redemption will come even before the Jewish people repent. For it is written,. Tehillim 130:8. “And He will redeem Israel from all its sins,” and the commentators explain, “Even sin will not obstruct the Redemption, for He will redeem Israel from sin.”
This is also seen in the order of the relevant verses cited in the prayers of Nefilas Apayim. First comes the request, “G‑d, redeem Israel from all its afflictions!” — and only then comes the above-quoted promise,“And He will redeem Israel from all its sins.” G‑d will first redeem His people from this distressful exile; only thereafter will He redeem them from their sins.
The same Divine attitude to the imperfections of the generation that is due to be redeemed, has been perceived by some of the classical commentators on the verse, מי אל כמוך נושא עוון ועובר על פשע לשארית נחלתו לא החזיק לעד אפו כי חפץ חסד הוא — “Who is a G‑d like You, Who pardons iniquity, and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not maintain His anger forever, for He delights in mercy.”
The author of Metzudas David comments: “As to ‘the remnant of His heritage,’ those who will survive the suffering of the ‘birthpangs of Mashiach,’ ” — many present day leaders have referenced this to the Shoah— “G‑d will not focus His attention on their transgressions and dispense due retribution, but will ‘forgive [lit., bypass] their transgressions,’ continuing on as if He did not notice them.”
The Radak (R. David Kimche) likewise comments on the same verse: “As to those of our people who will remain when the Redeemer comes,... even though their unworthy deeds could make them liable to the punishment of not being released from exile, G‑d will not direct His attention forever to their deeds, ‘for He delights in mercy.’ ...His mercy will prevail over their transgressions when the time for the Redemption arrives.”