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Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 16 Shevat 5782
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Teacherís Gift
In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain gave their 700,000 Jewish subjects a choice: either convert to Christianity or leave Spain, forfeiting all their possessions. They gave the hapless Jews only three months to consider. Within that time frame, the vast majority of the Jewish population chose to leave Spain en masse. A small percentage converted to Christianity outwardly while keeping up some vestige of Judaism secretly. The Spanish authorities spent the next 300 years or so relentlessly hunting down these “heretics” and their descendants, torturing them and burning them at the stake.

Now, after 500 years without a word of apology or remorse, the government of Spain has suddenly decided to grant honorary citizenship to any Sephardic Jew who can prove his descent from a Spanish exile.

What accounts for the change of heart? Very simple – for many years the Spanish economy has been floundering. It never did recover from the stature it once had before it evicted its most industrious and dependable citizens. Today the unemployment rate in Spain is around 30%, and half-a-million people emigrate from the country each year, to be replaced by Muslim immigrants from North Africa. The Jews, who have always brought with them economic wealth to any country they settled in, are once again being called upon to take up the slack.

However, even modern Spain still has a long way to go to rid itself of anti-Semitism. Today they are among the most ardent supporters of boycotts against Israel, and in the name of “human rights” they are among the most vocal critics of Israel in the United Nations. Spain, which has not yet dealt with its own black past, takes upon itself to lecture Israel on human rights.

This gesture of Spain, insignificant as it may be from a historical perspective, is nevertheless quite telling in perspective of the future. The day is not far off when all the nations of the world will come trembling before Moshiach, to beg forgiveness for the way they treated their Jews. And Moshiach will mete out justice for every Jew who was harmed by any gentile government. The nations will all come to appease the Jewish people but will have nothing to offer.

The prophets relate that in their efforts to ingratiate themselves to King Moshiach, the nations of the world will scour the earth in search of the one thing of value they can bring – another lost Jew. They will find those who are estranged from G-d and bring them to Moshiach – not for him to mete out punishment but to draw him close with love and affection.

This is the only gift Moshiach wants or needs from the nations of the world, the only thing of value they can give him. And in this way, every Jewish soul will find its way back home.



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