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Ma’ase avos siman l’banim – the actions of the fathers are a sign for the children.” (Ramban on Bereishis 12:6; Midrash Tanchuma, Lech Lecha 9) This is all for us, Yaakov Avinu’s children. It is for us to know there is a way out of galus.

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We have witnessed terrible events these past few months. But we must know that no matter what happens, to once more quote Yaakov Avinu, “This is none other than the abode of God and this is the gate of the heavens.”

Nothing our enemies can do can ever alter this: the only thing that can alter it is our own behavior – whether or not we cleave to our Father in Heaven, Who can save us from all troubles.

Those among us who try to weaken Torah are simply attacking their own brothers and sisters, attacking themselves. A wise friend of mine has a way of saying things very simply. When commenting on recent tragic events, he said the following six words, to which we should all listen very carefully:

“We must be doing something wrong.”

No, it’s not the fault of the media or “bad PR” or even our enemies. The darkness is upon us and we all need to do teshuvah, to repent. It is vital for us to remember exactly what Yaakov did before arriving at Haran. He “hid himself away in the house of study of Ever for fourteen years” (Rashi on Bereishis 28:9). This happened immediately after Eisav married the daughter of Yishmael. This was Yaakov Avinu’s response to galus, to darkness.

As we celebrate Chanukah, we must keep in mind that the only light in the world is the light of Torah.

Today, when the children of Yishmael and Eisav are joining together to attack the children of Yaakov, this can be our only response. We too must run to the “house of study,” because there is no other protection in the world.

I’ve heard that people are canceling trips to Israel because they are afraid. I am sorry to say there is at least as much to fear outside Israel as there is inside Israel. It does not help to be afraid to go to Israel.

A great rabbi recently put it this way: “The Torah’s opening pesukim forecast all of world history…the word ‘tehom’ (Bereishis 1:2) refers to the exile in which we find ourselves, the exile of Edom which is as deep as the greatest unfathomable depths…”

Do you think recent events are accidental? Not at all. The preeminence of Yishmael in today’s world was foretold from the very beginning and it is implicit in his name: “Because Hashem will in the future hear the cries of Am Yisrael on account of what Yishmael will do in the land in the end of days, he is called ‘Yishmael,’ which means ‘Hashem will listen’ – to Am Yisrael crying out in prayer” (Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer).

Yes, we must run to the Torah and purify ourselves. Nothing else will help us, because this is happening for a reason, just the way the sun set on Yaakov Avinu at that place and time for a reason. Nothing but teshuvah will help. We are in trouble because of our own shortcomings, and there is no way out of it without correcting those shortcomings. There are no shortcuts; no substitute for true, heartfelt repentance.

It will not help us to run up to Har Habayis, because we will only get there when we merit to do so through our teshuvah, our achdus,and our tefillah. The path to the Final Redemption is spiritual, not physical.


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Roy Neuberger’s latest book is “Working Toward Moshiach.” His book “2020 Vision” is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Russian, and Georgian. Roy is also the author of “From Central Park To Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul,” available in English, Hebrew, Russian, and Georgian, and “Worldstorm: Finding Meaning and Direction Amidst Today’s World Crisis.” Roy and his wife, Leah, speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. E-mail: Website: