3 Levels of Redemption
Redemption from what?
The Ultimate Redemption that Moshiach will bring is obviously from a state of Exile.
What exactly is this "Exile"?
There are 3 Levels:
Away from home
Away from home but not on vacation. Driven away.
Persecution, hunger, physical suffering.
Exile is defined as "Subjugation to the Nations" – שעבוד מלכויות (Shiabud Malchuyot).
Redemption = removal or conversion of this "Exile", back to leading a normal life.
Being and feeling at home.
Even if all-sweet physically, there could be...
State of mind drifting away from where it's supposed to be.
To think and behave differently from how a Jew should.
Suffering here is for the soul, which is in dissent with the body's lifestyle, yet must obey its whims, as the soul is stuck inside it.
This is also a root cause of mental stress (unhappiness) which the person experiences due to the imbalance between his conscious and subconscious.
Subjugation to the mentality of the Nations.
Redemption = removal or conversion of these mental forces and struggles, to enable the soul to express itself.
So that the outside of the Jew is consistent with his inside (comes back "home").
Away from who you are
Even if all-sweet physically and mentally, there is...
Away from purpose of Creation
G-dliness is hidden ("away") from the world. The G-dly light was taken away after the first week of creation. It's been dark ever since.
Exile of the Divine Presence (שכינה).
This Exile has been amplified after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
This is suffering for the שכינה (so-to-speak).
Subjugation of the שכינה to the forces that conceal it.
Redemption = removal or conversion of the concealing forces. The שכינה will then be readily felt in the world. G-dliness will be visible to the naked eye.
G-d will feel "at home" (so-to-speak) in the world.
The above 3 levels of Redemption correspond to 3 periods in History:
(of Exile, post Temple destruction)
But staying strong in Jewish Identity.
The surrounding Gentiles don't want you.
Why would you then try to integrate with them?
Their hostility actually brings out the self sacrifice of the Jewish People to hold fast to their identity.
Like crushing olives extracts fine oil.
Modern Times are a significant step closer to Redemption on the Physical Level:
No persecution, all around the world.
Freedom to learn Torah and practice it like never before.
Availability of Torah literature and ability to perform all Commandments applicable before the Ultimate Redemption, thanks to technology.
But It is particularly at such good times that Mental Exile kicks in!
Why? Assimilation. Breakdown of barriers between the Jewish World and the greater society
The Jewish World is finally able to influence the Gentiles.
But Mental Exile has it the other way around...
The dangers of Mental Exile:
Everything at Stake
In Physical Exile
The unfortunate consequence of Physical Exile is physical suffering and ultimately physical death (G-d forbid).
The soul then returns to its Maker and resides in the Next World.
The body decomposes but will be resurrected in Future Times.
In Mental Exile
Mental Exile on the other hand leads to spiritual suffering (the suffering of the soul) and can end up in spiritual death (G-d forbid).
- Spiritual death can well mean loss of both worlds (This World and the Next World).
Redemption?? – What For?!
During Physical Exile, Redemption was an obvious want (albeit Physical Redemption).
Easy to sell Redemption to the persecuted.
But when things are physically sweet, what further need is there for "Redemption"?
That's why Mental Exile is so bad. There is no realization that one is in fact very far from what the Redemption is really all about.
- Hence a conscious want for Redemption is missing.
The Redemption Era will have great
And that has definitely started.
However the Ultimate Redemption is primarily about
the Spiritual Heights
that will be attained then.
Hence Mental Redemption
is another essential step toward the Ultimate (Global) Redemption,
as it means Jewish (spiritual) Values are set at the top of the list.
Every soul is rooted in the Divine Presence.
With the collective Mental Exile prevalent in Modern Times –
the Divine Presence is at all-time low.
Its dire state (so-to-speak) impacts the soul, to feel and share the pain.
But the exile here (on a personal level) is
over the whole thing (even if one is "fine" physically and spiritually).
Redemption on this level starts with the
of how alarming Mental Exile is for the Divine Presence.
And the yearning for redemption here stems from the
(so-to-speak) over the intensifying spiritual low.
NOTES & REFERENCES
"Subjugation to the Nations" (שעבוד מלכויות): Whether or not the Jewish People are under the control of other nations is the essential difference between Exile and Redemption: Talmud Shabbat 63a. Rambam Laws of Kings 12:1. Note this can be even while at home, if home is controlled by others.
Exile = subjugation of the שכינה to the forces that conceal it: These forces are the origin of the Nations (Tanya p.278) – hence the Nations have the upper hand physically during Exile (Tanya p.20).
Exile of the שכינה much worse after the destruction of the Temple: "When they were exiled to Edom, the שכינה came along with them" (Midrash Sifri on Numbers 35:34. Also see Talmud Megila 29a). This is then the connecting factor between all three levels of Exile: While being in the lowest places/levels (Edom – Level 1) but not behaving like the people there (Level 2), this undermines the spiritual forces and allowing the שכינה to come out of its Exile.
Jewish People are compared to olives (which produce fine oil when crushed): Midrash Bereshit Rabba 36:1.
The Jewish World influencing the Gentile World: The Jewish People are commanded to influence the Gentiles to observe the Seven Noachide Laws (Rambam, Laws of Kings 8:13). Throughout history there has been limited interaction between the two worlds. During Exile, there's been more (forced) interaction (but note Ghettos). However, the general hostility of the Gentiles made even more dangerous to start talking to them about these laws. The Modern Era is really the first proper opportunity to have a global go at this. But then there's a new challenge... (Mental Exile – see inside).
Spiritual death (sin) leads to loss of both worlds: See Midrash (Sifri) on Deuteronomy 23:9 (brought by Rashi on the verse).
The Ultimate Redemption will have great physical betterment: Rambam Laws of Kings 12:8 et al.
The Ultimate Redemption is about the spiritual heights that will be attained then: Rambam Laws of Repentance 9:2.
The G-dly soul is rooted in the Divine Presence: See Tanya Ch. 2 and 41 et al. This is the reason that wherever the Jewish People have been exiled to, the Divine Presence has accompanied them – Talmud Megila 29a.
Yearning for Redemption because of Divine suffering (so-to-speak): In the Daily Prayers (instituted by the "Men of the Great Assembly"), we ask many times to bring salvation for His sake and the sake of His Name. In fact, Prayer is itself the conduit of extracting the person from his apathetic exile to the empathic state of personal redemption (on this third and last level), thereby causing the Divine Presence itself to also be redeemed. See Tanya 41.