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HINDSIGHT IS 20/20

by Michael Alterman    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"Behold -- days are coming -- the word of Hashem -- when the plower will encounter the reaper, and he who treads upon the grapes will meet the one who brings the seeds. . ." (Haftorah for Acharei Mot -- Amos 9:13).

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"Behold -- days are coming -- the word of Hashem -- when the plower will encounter the reaper, and he who treads upon the grapes will meet the one who brings the seeds. . ." (Haftorah for Acharei Mot -- Amos 9:13).

The Dubno Maggid, the 18th century Eastern European rabbi famous for his inspiring stories, explains the above prophetic line referring to the days of the mashiach (messiah) with the following parable: A city dweller who had never before seen the process of working the earth to produce food, happened across a man on the countryside who was plowing the ground and dispersing seeds in the newly-produced furrows. He immediately ran over to the farmer and chastised him for throwing such excellent seeds into the ground and allowing them to rot. The farmer responded patiently that the city dweller should wait to see what would eventually occur. Several months later, the city dweller was thrilled to see that the seeds had sprouted into beautiful stalks of wheat, but was horrified to see the farmer ruthlessly cutting down the wonderful sheaves. Seeing his reaction, the farmer assured him that, with time, the city dweller would understand what was being done. The farmer then proceeded to grind the wheat, mix it with water, knead the dough, and place it in a scalding oven. The city dweller once again could not understand why the farmer insisted on destroying the kernels of grain by scorching them in the fiery furnace. Once again, the farmer reassured the city dweller that he must wait to see what the end product will be.

When we examine and ponder the seemingly haphazard and upside-down world, we are perplexed and dismayed by what seems to be an unjust existence where evil prevails and the righteous live lives of hardship and toil. We cannot fathom what is occurring behind the scenes as we are trapped in the finite element known as time and therefore unable to see the big picture. Unfamiliar with the process of planting seeds, nurturing them, and allowing them to develop, we only see the afflictions of the righteous by the random elements of nature and are not witnesses to the end of the story, the main point. However, this should not lead to dismay. In the future, all will be revealed and our understanding of the many occurrences throughout history will be as clear as is the pleasure the city dweller feels from eating the warm, delicious, freshly-baked loaf of bread. Our prayer, as expressed by the prophet Amos in the verse, is that we will one day achieve total clarity by witnessing both the beginning and the end of the story -- to see the plower encounter the reaper, standing together as one.

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Michael Alterman, who hails from Atlanta and is a graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is currently a sophomore at Yeshiva University in New York.

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