Friday, January 06, 2006

BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT VAYIGASH
7 Tevet, 5766/6-7 January, 2006


OH, YEAH, I LEFT BROOKLYN!

While driving over the Williams Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan in New York last month, a sign over the bridge caught my eye and I did a double-take. There, over the crossing, a sign stood out: "Oy Vey, I’m leaving Brooklyn". Of course, this sign was made to be cute, but pondering this for a moment it showed me just how comfortable the Jew is with his exile. Could a Jew really be saying that he is sad to be leaving Brooklyn? Incredible!

In my many trips to the U.S. I have found that too many religious Jews are just too satisfied, content, and happy with their lives in the exile and do not feel that something is missing. Do they take a moment to ponder that the exile was given to the Jewish people as a punishment, and the harshest of punishments at that? Obviously not, from the feeling that one gets from driving on a main street, with its Glatt Kosher restaurants from one end to the other, with their happy-go-lucky customers, without a care in the world. Or the display of Glatt Kosher tours being advertised fora wonderful Pesach in Bermuda, or Florida - anywhere but Israel. Still, there is a Planner, a Master in this world Who has been returning His children to their rightful home, and the exile will not last forever - and time is running out!

In this week's parsha, we find the Jews heading to the exile of Egypt and settling down there. This will become the symbol of all the exiles that the Jewish people will be in, and of how the Jew will not want to leave the exile's impurity until they are thrown out. "Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, they established holdings in it and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly".

The Kli Yakar comments on the verse, which will surely not be a topic of discussion by the local Rabbis, who will not risk their jobs by telling the people what he knows to be the truth. Surely, a safer topic from the parsha will be chosen for the sermon.

In any case, the Kli Yakar writes: This whole verse levels an accusation against the children of Israel. For G-d decreed: Your descendants will be foreigners (tempororary sojourners) - and they wished to be "toshavim" (permanent residents), when becoming sojourners had been decreed. Thus, the verse blames them for seeking possession of a land not theirs. So completely did they settle in, that they did not wish to leave Egypt, and Hashem had to take them out with a strong hand. Those who still did not wish to leave died in the three days of intense darkness.

If only the Jew would let the brilliant words of the Kli Yakar enter into his heart... The exile of Egypt set the stage for all the exiles that the Jew has been in and his refusal to leave any of them. Whether it was from Egypt, Babylonia, or from the exile of today, the Jew refuses to see, hear and understand, and so causes a very great Chilul Hashem by despising the land, while enjoying the exile to the hilt and sucking its bones dry.

In his introduction to his siddur, Rabbi Ya'acov Emden writes: "Not one in a thousand is aroused to take hold of it and settle there; only one per country and two per generation. No one pays it any heed or seeks to love it. No one seeks to know its welfare or looks forward to seeing it. We imagine that since we live in peace outside the Land of Israel, we have already found another "Eretz Israel" and "Jerusalem", like the first. This is the reason that Israel's dwelling in peace and great honor in Spain and other countries during the exile, was beset by so much misfortune and then banished from Spain until no remnant of Israel remained there."

How true are the words of the great Rabbi Emden, and how relevant they are to us today. Can anyone honestly say that if the majority of the Jews of the exile would be here in the Land, that things would not be different? Could there have been a "disengagement" if another million Jews had been living in Israel? Certainly, we would still be holding onto Gush Katif and Northern Samaria today, if our brothers and sisters would have been here!
Certainly, they share a large part of the guilt! It is time to see the exile for what it is, not the "promised land" but a punishment, a banishment from home. And now, as time ticks away, it is time to say: Leaving Brooklyn? Oh,
Yeah!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen


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