By Rabbi Avi Baumol
(Adapted from Rabbi Shmuel Katz)
“We will not shed blood”
“Had Reuven known that the Torah would record his actions for Joseph, he would have carried him on his back. Similarly, Moshe goes to Egypt to meet his brother Aharon: Had Aharon known he would be recorded in the Torah, he would have come out to greet his brother in song and dance. Boaz in the book of Ruth, the Torah records how he gave her parched corn. Had Boaz known he would be recorded in the Torah he would have fed Ruth fatted calves.” (Midrash Raba Bereishit.)
What is the meaning of this Midrash? What were they trying to teach us? That they would have acted better if they knew they were on film? Is it simply a message as to their vainness how they were looking for glory and honor? We are not speaking about mediocre personalities, rather about the greatest of our history. Reuven the eldest child, Aharon the high priest, Boaz the great redeemer of Ruth.
The Torah is not a storybook, therefore when it records an event, its ramifications are eternal. What therefore is the eternal message of this Midrash?
In reality here, the Midrash is teaching us about one word—perspective.
When you think about it, Egypt and slavery, exile and leaving the promised land, started right at that point when Reuven stated, let us not kill him, but…
If only Reuven knew the consequences of his semi-salvation…
If Aharon was aware that when he heard the news that his brother who had fled Egypt 60 years before, that meeting was a milestone, entering a new age, of redemption, salvation, nationhood, a journey, what would his response have really been as lethargic as it was? He would have raced to Moshe, he would have truly been rejoicing, be uplifted in song.
And if Boaz knew that his connection to Ruth was not simply an act of chesed, an attraction between two individuals but the beginning of the coming of the Messiah through his actions, indeed that would have been worthy of all his money, all his time and effort.
Yes indeed, with a little perspective Reuven would have raised Yosef on his shoulders and tried to prevent the necessary exile.
We are in the midst of writing another chapter of history…58 years is a small time in the greater picture, it is the beginning of something big, huge, all you have to do is read the Torah. It is about a nation and their quest to deserve the promise made to them that they will merit the land of Israel. Our perspective must change, lest we end up not seeing the entire picture. How lucky we are to be part of this great era.
Yes, we acquire it through yesurin (suffering). It causes us pain, and it is sometimes difficult for us to appreciate, but let us remember the Midrash, if we are aware of the ramifications of this return to Israel, I am sure we would all be much more attuned to the miraculous nature of this generation and we would all fight for its existence to the best of our ability.
2170 years ago, a small group of committed fiery personalities decided to embark on a campaign, for freedom from persecution, and for independence. It began with a few individuals who started a war, they did not, could not, know that their actions would become an indelible imprint on the fabric of Jewish life for eternity, they acted with faith, with passion, with fervor—that was Macabi…
Let us hope we learn from the Midrash on Rueven, Aharon, and Boaz, let us learn from those Macabim and their great struggle, and let us gain new perspective on these miraculous times we live in.