Group Size: 20-30
Estimated Time: 75 minutes
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This is the place!
Video clips of utopias.
Big Question: What is Geula and what place does Medinat Yisrael have in it?
Goal: Chanichim will come away with a more realistic vision of what Geula is. They will also consider the role that Medinat Yisrael could play in such a vision.
Materials: Video Clips
Peula: Chanichim will be seated in the Beit Knesset by group. Once they are divided, a moderator will show four different movie clips depicting different utopias. The moderator will provide the necessary background in order to understand the movie clips. In between each movie segment, four minutes will be given for discussion of the clip in the smaller groups. After all of the video clips have been shown, the groups will continue with a sicha that discusses our vision of a utopia: Geula. Feel free to use the questions below to aid you in leading the various discussions.
- Movie Clip #1: The Truman Show
a. Truman was offered a life of security and a life where all would be taken care of for him. Why did he decide to leave this world?
b. What would your decision have been?
- Movie Clip #2: The Shawshank Redemption
- Movie Clip #3: The Matrix
a. The agent suggests that humans refused to live in a “perfect” world, and hence, an imperfect world had to be created for them. Do you think that this is true about human beings?
b. If you think it is true, what would we be missing from a “perfect” world? If you think it is false, how would you refute the agent’s claim?
- Movie Clip #4: Pleasantville
a. These characters brought “color” to Pleasantville, and taught them that a life of passions and emotions is a more fulfilling one even if it means that things can’t always be “pleasant”. Do you agree with this argument?
b. In earlier clips from this movie, this change in society also brought to their world such things as: wives cheating on husbands, anger, fights, and even fire that destroys (there was no such thing beforehand). Is this still a good tradeoff?
1. A Perfect World?
- Ask the chanichim what their vision of Geula is? Does the world become perfect? Is it supernatural? What will the world look like? How will it change?
- Although there are many approaches to the Geula in Jewish tradition, the Rambam presents it as follows:
1. רמב"ם הלכות תשובה פרק ט הלכה ב
אבל ימות המשיח הוא העולם הזה ועולם כמנהגו הולך אלא שהמלכות תחזור לישראל, וכבר אמרו חכמים הראשונים אין בין העולם הזה לימות המשיח אלא שיעבוד מלכיות בלבד.
2. רמב"ם הלכות מלכים פרק יב הלכה א
אל יעלה על הלב שבימות המשיח יבטל דבר ממנהגו של עולם, או יהיה שם חידוש במעשה בראשית, אלא עולם כמנהגו נוהג
- According to the Rambam, Yemot HaMashiach will still look like our world today. The only difference will be that Jews will have authority over themselves- self-determination.
- How does this match the Geula that you envisioned?
- How can this source answer the challenges that were raised this past Shabbat about the modern State of Israel?
- Why is self-determination such an important idea in the movies, and in the Rambam?
- Why do you think God would choose such a Geula? Why not make the world perfect? Use ideas gained from the movies, but also think in Jewish terms.
2. The Road to Geula
- If the Geula looks completely natural, what do you think that the process leading up to the Geula will look like? Here is the Rambam’s view:
3. רמב"ם הלכות מלכים פרק יא הלכה ג
ואל יעלה על דעתך שהמלך המשיח צריך לעשות אותות ומופתים ומחדש דברים בעולם או מחיה מתים וכיוצא בדברים אלו
- According to the Rambam, the Mashiach will not possess any magical or superhuman powers, and he won’t perform any miracles. He’ll bring things about naturally. Here’s another source, from the midrash about the process of geula (if you know the Chaim Dovid song, you can sing it…):
4. אם הבנים שמחה עמ צא
Rabbi Chiya Rabba and Rabbi Shimon Ben Chalafta were walking in the
- Another midrash explains why this is the case:
5. אם הבנים שמחה עמ צ
And if redemption would come all at once, they wouldn’t be able to stand a great salvation that comes out of great troubles, therefore it comes slowly, and grows as it develops. Therefore redemption is compared to daybreak, as it says “ Then will your light break like the day” (Yeshaya 58:8)…for there is no darkness greater than that moment before the morning, and if the sun would rise at that moment, all creatures would be hurt, rather the amud hashachar rises and brightens the world first, and then the sun rises and shines…”
- How might the current state of
fit into this vision? What similarities does it have to the ultimate Geula, and what are the differences? How do the sources we’ve learned provide a further response to the challenges from the Jewish Observer? Israel
- In our Tfilla L’Shlom HaMedina, we refer to the State of Israel as Reishit Tzmichat Geulateinu. In light of all of the sources we have seen so far? What does this mean? Do you think that it is an accurate depiction?
- What is our role in this process of geula? Will it only be Mashiach doing everything? Assuming that there are still differences between our modern day state, and the vision of Geula, what’s our role in narrowing that gap? Rav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal, author of Eim HaBanim Smeicha, provides several proofs before concluding the following:
6. אם הבנים שמחה עמ קי
“I have proved…that everything depends on what we will do with our actions first, and then we can expect Heavenly assistance that will help us finish what we’ve started, as it says in the Zohar on Parshat Noach, that this is how it was when Shlomo built the Beit HaMikdash, that he started the work first, and then he was helped from Heaven that it was finished by itself, but Heaven waited for him to work first…”
- Now that we have a clearer picture of our vision of geula, and our role in brining it about, we’re ready to look at how this vision looks in reality today in the form of Medinat Yisrael- where are holding in this process? What are the challenges that we face today?