Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaas (1890-1986)

“For He will see that the enemy’s hand is strong, and no one is saved or supported.” (Devarim 32:36) The Gemara in Sanhedrin 97a derives from here that moshiach will not come until the Jewish people gives up on the redemption and thinks that there is no supporter or helper for Israel.

Now this is hard to understand: is it really a condition of the redemption that one of the 13 Principles of our faith – hoping for the redemption – should be forgotten? But the true meaning of the Gemara is that as long as the Jewish people hope the redemption will come in a natural way, that the nations of the world will have mercy on us and give us some place to build ourselves a homeland or the like, the redemption will certainly not come, for the kindness of the nations of the world is considered a sin, and in truth, we are hated by the entire world. Only if we give up on such delusions and realize that we have no one to rely upon but our Father in heaven, then moshiach will come and bring us the true redemption.

This is also the reason why Hashem commanded Moshe to go to Pharaoh and ask him to let the Jewish people out of Egypt, but instead Pharaoh increased their work load, to the point where they refused to listen to Moshe, due to shortness of breath and difficult work. Hashem wanted the Jews to understand that Pharaoh was not the one freeing them, and the matter did not depend on his goodness and kindness. On the contrary, when they saw that Moshe asked him to let the Jews go, and he refused, saying, “Who is Hashem that I should listen to Him” the Jewish people gave up their hope that the redemption might come naturally, and they no longer placed their hope in Pharaoh. That is why their true redemption followed immediately. (Emes Leyaakov, Haazinu)

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky said that it was in reaction to Zionism that the Chofetz Chaim, in the 1890s, began to stress the study of Kodashim. (He wrote Likutei Halachos, started a Kodashim kollel, and taught Eizehu Mekoman to the unlearned kohanim in Radin.) That was the period of the first Zionist aliyah, and the Chofetz Chaim saw their goal, to establish an independent Jewish colony in Eretz Yisroel, as an implicit denial of the coming of moshiach and the complete redemption to be brought by Hashem. Therefore he taught the Jewish people to make a point of studying the laws of the service in the Beis Hamikdash, in order to reinforce the belief in moshiach. (Bimechitzas Rabbeinu, p. 31)

When the Satmar Rebbe’s book Vayoel Moshe was published, explaining how the Three Oaths apply to the state, Reb Yaakov came to the Rebbe and said, “The Rebbe wrote that it would be worth writing the sefer even to change the mind of one Jew. Well, I’ve come to tell the Rebbe that he was yotzei already with me. I changed my mind after reading the sefer.” (The Rebbe, p. 509)


Rabbinic Quotations

Chofetz Chaim

Vayoel Moshe