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Look in the Flask

There is a famous saying in the Mishnah: “Do not look at the flask but at what is in it; there may be a new flask that is full of old wine and an old flask that does not even have new wine in it.” (Avot 4:20) The commonly accepted meaning is not to judge by superficial appearances. However, it can also be interpreted as a lesson to be applied to our preparation for the upcoming Redemption.

The responsibility to prepare for Redemption rests on every Jew. However, some people try to shirk this duty. Of these people, there are two types: “new flasks” and “old flasks.”

A “new flask” is someone who sees himself as “green.” He is not sufficiently learned or mature to teach Torah to others. The Mishnah addresses him and says that there could be “new flasks” that are “filled with old.” Every Jew has the inner powers, the “old wine,” and certainly has the ability to teach and influence others.

Then there are “old flasks,” who have studied and taught for years. However, they are uncomfortable with the “new wine,” with the new concept of spreading Torah and preparing the world for Redemption.

To the “old flasks” the Mishnah says, that there are old flasks that are filled with new wine. Everyone, young and old alike, must do their part to prepare for Moshiach. A single action by one individual could tip the scales and bring the Redemption.

(Torat Menachem, 5743, vol. 4, p. 2001)



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