Friday, January 19, 2007

Understand Well, My Brothers...

BS"D

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

PARSHAT VA'ERA/ROSH CHODESH SHVAT
30 Tevet 5767/19-20 January 2007


UNDERSTAND WELL, MY BROTHERS

In this week's parsha, the redemption process begins to move into high gear. But before the stage gets set for the downfall of the mighty Egyptians “who know not Hashem”, the Jewish people themselves were struggling with the
process. And so we find that the Jewish people in Egypt were so embedded in Egyptian culture, that when the redemption came, the great majority were unable to release themselves from it and had to be destroyed. Make no
mistake about it: The great majority of the Jewish people at the time were lost forever. The most liberal figures teach us that 80 percent - some 9 to 10 million Jews - died during the plague of darkness.

The feeling that Egypt was their “homeland”, together with the “good life” which they enjoyed, clouded their vision, so much so that at the end of the day, when they were supposed to be heading home to the Land of Israel, they could not leave. So much so, as the prophet Hosea teaches us (5:7): “They betrayed Hashem, for they begot alien children, now a month (Av) will devour them with their portions”, meaning that the Jews would have children but not circumcise them. They said: We will be like the Egyptians. When G-d saw this, He said: I will change the love which the Egyptians have for the Jewish people, and turn it into hate.

The Jews themselves at the time were worshipping idols, like their counterparts, the Egyptians. In fact, the same sheep-god whom the Egyptians worshipped and loved so much, was also dear to the Jews as well. It was for this reason that Hashem commanded them to take the sheep and slaughter it before the eyes of the Egyptians.

Hashem said: The time has come for Me to fulfill My promise that I made to the Patriarchs, that I will redeem their children, but they do not have any mitzvot in their hands for me to redeem them through. G-d gave them two mitzvot to do and thus gain merit: The commandment of the Passover sacrifice and circumcision.

The Midrash relates to the sentence: “They did not listen to Moshe because of their broken spirit and hard work”. Rabbi Eliezer said: “Could there be a person that is told good tidings and is not happy?” For how could it be that the Jews were told by Moshe that they would be redeemed, and yet they did not listen to him but, quite the opposite - they were distressed at the news? Rather, it was hard for them to separate from idol worship!

Understand this well, my brothers: The Redemption is here, the one for which we have been praying for the longest of times. The one that we have been crying out to Hashem for, to end this exile, praying and close our eyes, turning heavenward and beseeching G-d to send us the Redemption - but lo and behold, when it's ready to come - no one’s home. For in reality all we did was to go though the motions, as if we wanted it but all along, deep inside - in a place where we don’t dare go - we know only too well that we really do not want to leave the good life, the golden palace which we call home.

“Next year in Jerusalem”: Our brothers in Egypt did not measure up to the test. Do you?


With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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