Friday, April 28, 2006

The Fall of Paras and the coming of Moshiach

Paras means Persia, which is Iran. The sages tell us that before Moshiach comes Paras will fall at the hands of Rome (and vice-versa). On an external level, all eyes are on Iran's nuclear development, but the chess-board of world politics is merely the playing out of the internal spiritual drama of the Jewish people.

Please consider the following:

I. The gemara in Yoma 10a

Rebbi states that Rome is destined to fall at the hands of Persia. Rav states that Persia is destined to fall at the hands of Rome. Question: Can the builders (Paras, who permitted the rebuilding of the Holy Temple) fall before the destroyers (Rome, who destroyed the Temple)? The sages answer: If the King (Hashem) so decrees.

II. Rabbi Yonasan Eibshetz, ztvk"l (Yaaros Dvash)

At certain moment the time will come when Moshiach should have already arrived but the redemption has not yet come. The Moshiach will ask how it could be that the time for redemption has arrived and he still undergoes sufferings? The response that he will receive is that he must wait for nine months. Why? In order to wait for the fall of Persia at the hands of Edom, and then the final redemption will come. (Note: I have not seen this source first hand --YN)

III. Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shabbos Vayeira, 5752

According to the announcement of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, leader of our generation, Moshiach of our generation, that all areas of our Divine service throughout Golus have been completed and perfected, we are standing ready to greet the righteous Moshiach. This means that all impediments and obstacles have been nullified.

IV. Mitteler Rebbe, Toras Chaim, Beshallach p.312

The level of Kesser Shem Tov of Moshiach, who is called "exceedingly tall" because he elevates an offering of Torah and Mitzvos...that are performed with complete acceptance of the yoke of heaven...to refine the 288 sparks [of kedusha that fell]. But there is a second level of mitzvos which is from the essence of performing the mitzvah alone even without intent and reason and secrets at all. Which means [mitzvos performed] not for the sake of tikkun or refinement of the 288 sparks at all, but rather only because He said and His will is done. Because this is the essence, similar to the mitzvos we will do in the time to come which are above the level of refining sparks.

What is the connection between the decree of the King that Persia must fall...that Moshiach should have come but we have to wait for Persia's fall...that the Rebbe says that all the sparks have been refined...that there is a special level of mitzvos that do not refine the fallen sparks of kedusha?

In 5752 (late 1991) the Lubavitcher Rebbe made the astonishing statement (repeated during the ensuing year) that the divine service of the Jewish people in exile--refining the sparks of kedusha that had fallen into this lowest of worlds--has been completed. Even the tshuva of the Jewish people has been done. The Rebbe himself said that it is completely beyond understanding how Moshiach hasn't come.

That was 15 years ago! How much more inexplicable it is today!

This fits the description of the Yaaros Dvash (quoted above), that a moment will come when Moshiach should have arrived, but the geulah still didn't come. The reason: we are waiting for the fall of Persia (Paras).

What is Paras (פרס)?

Every nation in the world (70 distinct entities, according to Torah) is simply an expression of a different underlying spiritual quality. For example, the nation of Bavel (Babylon) is related to "bilbul" -- confusion, the confusion the hinders a Jew's divine service. Yavan (Greece) had their spiritual root in the klipa of chochma, impure wisdom. When the Jewish people were challenged by these nations in the physical world it was a reflection of being challenged by their spiritual sources. When the Jews overcame their spiritual source, these nations fell. So what is Paras (Persia/Iran) and what is its spiritual source?

Last Shabbos after Mincha, Jews all over the world recited the first chapter of Pirkei Avos. The third Mishna states:

Antigonus of Socho received the Torah from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say: Be not like servants who minister unto their master for the sake of receiving a reward [pras פרס], but be like servants who serve their master not upon the condition of receiving a reward [pras פרס]; and let the fear (awe) of Heaven be upon you.

As explained in Chassidus (see for example Ohr Hatorah Bamidbar III, 583a), Paras (פרס) is from the word פרוסה meaning a "slice", a fraction of something much greater (a slice of the whole pie). Specifically, this refers to the Divine hashpa'a in Gan Eden that results from learning Torah and performing mitzvos. In this Mishna, we are being told not to serve our Master (Hashem) for the "reward" that is generated by our divine service in refining sparks of kedusha. This includes the neshoma above which enjoys these revelations now--because these revelations are merely a "slice" (Paras) of the essence of the mitzva, which will only be experienced in the World to Come with the revival of the dead after Moshiach comes.

Based on this, we can understand why the fall of Paras precedes the redemption: because as long as our neshomas are enjoying the "slice" of the reward for refining the world through mitzvos, they are distracted, so to speak, from the ultimate goal: the coming of Moshiach and the revelation of the "whole pie".

This also explains why the Yaaros Dvash describes a time when Moshiach should have already arrived--meaning that the refinement of the sparks of kedusha has been finished and thus Moshiach should come to bring about the elevation of these sparks. Because it is exceedingly difficult for Paras to fall as long as the mitzvos are refining the world and providing hashpa'a to the neshomas in Gan Eden. Only when this aspect of reward ends, after the refinement of the world through Torah and Mitzvos has been completed, is the neshoma able to forget about the reward and perform the mitzvos for the sake of the essence of the mitzvah (as described by the Mitteler Rebbe above), which is "only because He said and His will is done". Or, as the sages say in the Mishna, not for a reward but because we have let the fear (awe) of Heaven be upon us.

And from this we can see why the sages in the gemara give the reason for the fall of Paras at the hands of Rome as "if the King so decrees"--if the mitzvos are done simply because they are the decrees of the King, not for a reward, this brings about the fall of Paras! [And why at the hands of the Romans? Because Rome is Edom and Edom is the root of desire; the desire (for impure pleasures) which destroyed the Holy Temple, and the rectified desire (to serve Hashem) which will destroy Paras.]

If this analysis is accurate, then we have a clue to our inexplicable, incomprehensible situation of having completed our divine service but remaining in exile. And perhaps we can understand the startling words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the 28th of Nissan 5751:

What more can I to do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach? All that has been done until now has been to no avail. For we are still in exile; moreover, we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G-d.

The inner exile is the exile of Paras, doing mitzvos for the sake of the pras, the slice of G-dly hashpa'a that the neshoma enjoys. Instead of a slice of the pie, we need to be crying out for Moshiach--the revelation of the essence, the whole pie that Hashem is waiting for the opportunity to give us. When we truly have a rectified desire for the essence, for the whole pie represented by Moshiach, then our Torah and mitzvos will be performed "only because He said and His will is done", in the manner of "servants who serve their master not upon the condition of receiving a reward", which is the destruction of Paras at the hands of Edom!

May we witness the fall of Paras, the end of our inner exile, and the coming of Moshiach immediately, AMEN!

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