Bo by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
God of Legions
In continuation of our discussion of the Names of God in the past few weeks, we would like to discuss here the Name Tzvaot, meaning the God of Legions, which, although is not used as a Name in this parsha, is indeed hinted to in this parsha which talks about the legions of Israel leaving Egypt. In truth, God’s Name Tzvaot is used for the first time in Tanach only in the book of Shmuel in Hanna’s prayer for children! Our Sages explain that Hanna used this term in her petition for a son, saying, “if You have created so many legions of people, can you not give me a son?” The fact that Hanna uses the term “legions” not simply in reference to the people, but also in reference to Hashem as the “God of Legions,” shows, according to our Sages (see Mishna Berachot chapter seven), that this Name places a strong emphasis on the Divine power that rests with the masses of the People.
Indeed, the mishna in Berachot (chapter 7) teaches us, according to one opinion, that this Name is to be used in a zimmun, the “summoning” of Birkat HaMazon in the presence of 10,000 participants.
The term “legion” may also refer to the organized system of people needed to overcome and defeat the enemy. Thus, this parsha’s emphasis on the “legions of Israel” may indicate that these legions are not only for the defense in the uninhabited wilderness, but rather, more primarily, it may be a preparation to conquer the Land of Israel. This matter, as well as the fact that this Name is associated with God’s Presence amongst masses of people implies that through masses of People coming to the Land of the Holy Presence, i.e the Land of Israel, spiritual power is given to Israel to indeed conquer and settle the Land of Israel in an optimal way. The ultimate “settling” of this Land par-excellance can be seen in the building of the Beit Hamikdash. Based on this we can explain the verse “Hashem builds Jerusalem, He shall ingather the exiles of Israel” (Tehilim 147, 2). The building of Jerusalem, i.e the Beit Hamikdash, is dependent on the ingathering of Exiles and vice versa. What we mean by “vice versa” is explained by some when explaining the seeming contradiction in the sources of our Sages regarding whether the building of Jerusalem will be before the ingathering of exiles or the opposite. They say that first there will be an initial ingathering of exiles, and thereby Jerusalem will be initially built, and then a greater ingathering of exiles will ensue. In other words, the building of Jerusalem and the ingathering of exiles are intrinsically linked o each other. In the past we have mentioned that the Talmud (see Hulin 92b for example) says that the entire Land of Israel may be coined the Temple/Jerusalem to a certain level, and thus we may also say that the settling/conquering/”building” of this Land is also intrinsically linked to the masses of Israel returning to this Land. Hebron, Beacon of the Holy Land, shining its light across the globe, is, of course, an essential component of inspiring and bringing Jews world-over to their ultimate Homeland, and thereby also causing their Homeland and “Home of our Lives” (the Temple – see Haftora blessings) to shine and be rebuilt through their presence.
“In 1835 Alphonse de Lamartine wrote, “Outside the city of Jerusalem, we saw no living object, heard no living sound…a complete eternal silence reigns.( Thomas Shaw, travels and observations (Oxford: Printed at the Theatre, 1738). In 1857, the British consul in Palestine, James Finn, reported, “The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population.” This historic observation is a remarkable confirmation of the Biblical predictions that during Israel’s “double” period of time of punishment and dispersion, the Lord would cause the Land to become desolate of man and beast (Jeremiah 33:10; Zechariah 10:12; Jeremiah 16:14-18). The most popular quote on the desolation of the Land is from Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad (1867), “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies….Palestine is desolate and unlovely…. It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land.” The records of history confirm the Biblical predictions that during the Jewish dispersion and “double” of God’s disfavor, the Land of Israel would become desolate awaiting the return of the Jewish people when its period of disfavor.” Compare all this just 150 years ago with the reality today, thank God! Source: Israel Nation of Miracles