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December 26, 2017 at 2:26 AM , , ,

“…And Yaakov called for his sons and said, “gather and i will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days.” – Bereishis 49:1

וַיִּקְרָא יַעֲקֹב אֶל בָּנָיו וַיֹּאמֶר הֵאָסְפוּ וְאַגִּידָה לָכֶם אֵת אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָא אֶתְכֶם בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים – בראשית מט, א

The Talmud (Pesachim 56a) explains that Yaakov sought to reveal to his sons the end of the days (i.e., the time of the ultimate Redemption), but the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, withdrew from him.

What did Yaakov want to achieve by revealing this information to his children, and why did G-d not approve? One explanation is that Yaakov foresaw that the redemption from Egyptian bondage could potentially be the complete and ultimate Redemption, meaning, that the Jewish people would never be exiled again (see Zohar, vol. 3, p. 221a). He desired to reveal this to Bnei Yisrael, (who knew that the Egyptian exile would not be longer than 400 years, as stated in Bereishis 15:13-14,) in the hope that this would motivate them to maintain their righteousness and indeed merit the complete redemption at that time. Moreover, knowing that the ultimate redemption was potentially very near, they would increase their good deeds and bring about their compete redemption even sooner.

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Nevertheless, G-d restrained Yaakov from revealing this information to his children. For the highest form of divine worship is when you serve G-d on your own initiative, and your drive to be righteous comes from within. This would be lost to some degree if Bnei Yisrael’s motivation to increase their good deeds were based on prophetic information regarding the potential of their deeds to bring about the ultimate redemption by a given date. Their righteousness would not be regarded as “their own,” as it had been motivated by outside sources of inspiration, and their merit would therefore not be complete.

The Shechinah therefore withdrew from Yaakov. Whereas Yaakov preferred to bring about the final redemption sooner, G-d preferred to give Bnei Yisrael the opportunity to truly merit the redemption on their own accord, and to thereby bring about the most perfect and complete redemption possible.

—Likkutei Sichos, vol. 25, pp. 228-232


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