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Jewish Thinking

From Exile to Redemption… Only One-Letter Difference…

Published on Monday June 17th, 2019

The holy language – Hebrew, is not like other languages.

The latter are based on conventions. In other words, there is no relation between the signifier (the word) and the signified (the object). In Hebrew, it is different since the word carries in it the essence of the signified. Thus, when you see a scriptural analogy between two words, you can logically conclude that there is also an analogy between the concepts they convey.

In the Midrash [1], there is a controversy between two Sages as to what the word “Gola” means in a verse of Zechariah [2]. One thinks that it comes from the root of the word Exile (Gola) and the other thinks that it comes from the word Redemption (Geula).

The words referring to Exile and Redemption are the same! Except for a one-letter difference: the Aleph – גולה / גאולה.

Even more than that, the majority of letters forming the word Geula are letters of the word Gola (exile)!

Is not this amazing? Do not they appear to be diametrically opposed concepts?

Transforming Gola into Geula

In fact, this linguistic singularity teaches us about the very nature of Redemption and the way to unveil it.

The Chassidut [3] explains that the additional Aleph is an allusion to the “Aloupho Shel 'Olam”, that is the Master of the world, that we must introduce into Gola (Exile). This phrase may seem short and pithy. It requires further development.

Contrary to popular belief, Redemption will not be apocalyptic. It will not imply a break or a rupture from everything that existed before. Redemption will “only” be the unveiling of the Divine in all the slightest details of Creation.

This is the answer to those who would worry, wondering why they should hope for a Deliverance that would turn their lives upside down, both socially and professionally. The answer is that Redemption just consists in inserting a “little” additional Aleph in our lives. Today, in Exile, everything is dark, and especially our secular activities. Everything will be enlightened by Geula: instead of disappearing, all that will have been accomplished during exile (in keeping with the laws of the Torah, of course) will be transfigured and elevated, thus revealing the Divine.

Everything that will have been positive in time of Exile will continue to exist after Redemption. This is what the introduction of the Aleph of the “Aloupho Shel Olam” is about in Gola (Exile).

This was expressed by the Rambam in his Halakhic work [4]: “It should not occur to you that during the days of the Mashiach a single thing from the ways of the world will be canceled nor will there be something novel in the Creation. Rather, the world will continue in its customary way. […] Our Sages have said that there is no difference between this world and the days of the Mashiach except the emancipation from our subjugation to the gentile kingdoms […] Rather, he [the Mashiach] will establish peace within the world. […] The world will only be engaged in knowing G.d.”

We can now understand why the word Redemption (Geula) carries in it all the letters of the word Exile (Gola). Redemption does not cancel Exile and what has been achieved, rather it sublimates it.

Everything depends on us…

Nevertheless we should not believe that all this will happen by itself, as if by magic. As the Admur Hazaken said [5]: the messianic era is dependent on our actions and divine service throughout the period of exile.

We have to act now. The effective Redemption will only consist in the unveiling of our achievements. It is today, while we are still in Exile, that we have to introduce the Aleph of the “Aloupho Shel Olam” and reveal the divine in all the aspects of our lives.

The Torah is not confined to the synagogue. It embraces the totality of life, everywhere and all the time. At any place, at any moment, the Jew can and must reveal the divine. Like, for example, in the way he behaves towards others or conducts his business with righteousness etc.

Thus, we can already be in a state of “Geula Pratit” – of personal redemption. And all these “personal redemptions” will be added together in order to finally bring to the world the global Redemption, the unveiling of the “Aleph”, of the Master of the world, very soon and in our days, Amen.


[1] Vayikra Rabba, end of Parashat Emor. Shir Hashirim Rabba, chapter 4.7. Kohelet Rabba, beginning of chapter 4

[2] 14.2

[3] Likoutey Torah, Behaalotecha 35.3

[4] Laws of kings and wars, chapter 12.1

[5] Tania, Chapter 37


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