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Al Tirah

Following V'Al Kein, kaddish is recited. If there is a mourner, he recites the kaddish, but in any case it is well to have kaddish recited only when ten men are present, of course), as it is quite appropriate to follow up with the words, "may G-d's great Name be magnified and sanctified...," which also speaks of the time of the Messianic era.

After the chapter of V'al Kein one should recite the following verses, beginning with the verse "Do not fear..." Reciting these verses expresses confidence in G-d's protection, and all are regarded as auguries of deliverance. If one cannot say it immediately following V'al Kein, it should be recited before leaving the synagogue. As it is explained in Kabbalah, many powerful things are hidden in these verses.113

The origin of this custom, as well as, the significance of these verses, is to be found in the Midrash Rabba on the Book of Esther. There, our Sages tell us, when Mordechai learned of the wicked decree that Haman obtained to murder all of the Jewish people, Mordechai went out into the street and met three young Jewish yeshiva students. He asked each one of them to tell him what he had learned in Cheder that morning. The first one reluctantly quoted the verse, "do not fear..." The second boy quoted the verse, "contrive a scheme..." and the third boy quoted the verse, "to your old age...". From this Mordechai knew that the Jewish people should fear no enemy; he took it as a divine omen that Haman's plans to annihilate the Jewish people will come to naught and that G-d would deliver them from all danger. His confidence was strengthened because he knew that as long as Jewish children attend yeshiva, study Torah, and observe the Mitzvos, G-d would never forsake His people. We are further told that Mordechai then went and gathered all the Jewish children and inspired them to an even greater devotion to the Torah; and at that very moment the evil decree of Haman was nullified in Heaven.114

Do not fear sudden terror, nor the destruction of the wicked when it comes.115

This verse tells us one should not be afraid of fear, for fear is paralyzing and harmful in itself. Even when the wicked are there and planning to destroy the world, we should not be afraid.

Sudden terror comes before worry, or fear of loss. Even if they come fighting you, don't fear them, for G-d is on your side. Worry and fear of loss can immobilize one through depression, for which Torah study and the ensuing Emunah (faith in G-d) are the antidote. The Tanya116 expounds on depression, and says laziness arises from depression. If one is depressed and feels he will fail, then his depressions will cause him loss. But, if one is strong and firm, for he knows G-d is backing him, than he will win. Torah study and prayer are the prescribed medicine for this G-dly strength.

Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize, for G-d is with us.117

This verse tells us that we should not be afraid. We say to our enemies "You may make your wicked plans, and utter your wicked threats, but nothing will come from them, for G-d is with us."

The wicked had a plan to destroy Jews and G-dliness, and tried to proceed with it. They attacked Jerusalem, the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) and scattered the Jews. But G-d is, was, and will be with us, with the house of David, and with all of the Tribes of Israel, saving us. Even now in the Diaspora, preserving us and increasing our faith in G-d. Furthermore, all of their talk will end up fruitless, because G-d is with us.

In truth, the aforementioned occurred numerous times. There were enemies who wished to destroy the Jewish Nation, but their plots have all been foiled. We see from Haman, Nebuchadnezzar and others, even though it seemed as if they succeeded at first, the outcome was their downfall. Even large and mighty kingdoms suffered great downfalls.

When armies go to wage war, they must rely upon three things (a) full belief and trust that the opposition will be erased; (b) good strategy plan for war; and (c) might. When the General Sennacherib told Hezekiah about his plan for battle, he utilized this information as part of his psychological warfare strategy. Sennacherib, however, failed to realize that the Almighty G-d opposed the Assyrians and fought on the side of the Jews. General Sannacherib went home in defeat and disgrace after an angel of G-d decimate his army, with the loss of the life of not even one Jew.118

To your old age I am [with you]; to your hoary years I will sustain you; I have made you, and I will carry you; I will sustain you and deliver you.119

This verse assures us that no matter how long the exile will be G-d will always "carry" us. We are G-d's responsibility. Our exile and dispersion among the nations of the world is also G-d's doing. He will, therefore, surely deliver us from our enemies and from this exile.

These three terms, "Asisi" (I am with you), "Esa" (I will sustain you), and "Espol V'omalet" (I will deliver you), refer to our three exiles. (1) "I am with you" refers to the exile in Egypt. For this reason it is written in past tense. (2) "I will sustain you" refers to the Babylonian exile, which had not happened yet, as it is written by Isaiah. (3) "I will deliver you" refers to the current exile. Isaiah prophesies that once this exile is over the Jewish nation will never again be exiled.120

Consider the verse, "in the presence of a person of (hoary years) you shall rise and you shall honor the presence of a zikna (one of old age)."121 What is the difference between "Zikna" (old age) and "Seva" (hoary years)? According to Rashi,122 the two halves of the verse explain one another, meaning that the commandment is to rise and honor the sage who is both elderly and righteous.

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