The Psalm of Redemption IX: Tefillah L’Moshe
“A righteous man will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar in the Lebanon he will grow tall.” (Verse 13) The Talmud (Ta’anit 25a-b) teaches: R. Hiyya b. Luliani expounded: What is the meaning of the verse, The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall glow like a cedar in Lebanon? If it is said, ‘Palm-tree’ why is also said ‘Cedar’? And if ‘Cedar’ why also ‘Palm-tree’? Had it been said, ‘Palm-tree’ and not ‘Cedar’ I might have argued that just in the same way as the stem of the Palm-tree does not renew itself so too the stem of the righteous, Heaven forfend, does not renew itself; therefore it is said ‘Cedar’. Had it been said, ‘Cedar’ and not ‘Palm-tree’, I might have argued that just in the same way as the Cedar does not yield fruit, so too the righteous do not yield fruit; therefore it is said, ‘Palm-tree’ and ‘Cedar’.
When the Talmud discusses how the righteous bear fruit, it parallels the Palm, which does not offer shade directly underneath, but only in the distance. So too, the Righteous often do not directly benefit from their own righteousness, but bring that benefit to others in the distance. Tefillah L’Moshe – Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum
Machberes Avodas Hashem
Moshe and his predecessors had to speak to many of the slaves of a future redemption, or, in the words of the Tefillah L’Moshe, no direct benefit to them but to the generations in the distance.
It is important to note that simply having the slaves in Egypt think of future generations, Moshe was reminding them that there would be a future. That realization, especially when Pharaoh was drowning all the Jewish male babies, was an act of redemption.
We often feel like slaves to our jobs and responsibilities, but we can use Shabbat to focus on the future in this world and the next. Reminding us that there is a future is one of Shabbat’s gifts.