<I>Vayigash</I>: Aliens in a Strange Land

They did not wish to leave Egypt.

Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen,

 Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen
Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen
INN:YH
"Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt in the region of Goshen; they acquired property in it and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly." (Bereishit 47:27)

On this verse, the Kli Yakar comments that the Children of Israel no longer regarded themselves as aliens sojourning in Egypt, but rather as permanent residents. He teaches
Israel settled in Egypt, established deep roots and enjoyed material success.
further that "so completely settled did they become that they did not wish to leave Egypt and HaShem had to remove them by force. Those who did not wish to leave died during the three days of darkness."

Israel settled in Egypt, established deep roots and enjoyed material success. This became a pattern that would come to define Israeli behavior in later exiles. Nearly every foreign country that Jews have settled in throughout history was initially a safe refuge, yet we have continuously attempted to turn these places of temporary shelter into permanent homelands. For this reason, G-d continuously intervenes by driving Israel from these foreign lands.

"Had the dove found a resting place, it would not have returned. A similar verse is, 'She dwells among the nations; she finds no rest.' (Eicha 1:3) If they found rest, they would not return. Similar also is Devarim 28:65, 'Among the nations you will feel insecure; there will be no place for your foot to rest.' If they found rest, they would not return." (Bereishit Rabbah 33:6)

The Gaon of Vilna was agitated by the possibility of Jews suffering greatly during the time of Redemption due to our remaining in the exile of our own free will. In the first chapter of Kol HaTor, the Gaon's teachings on Mashiach ben Yosef and the Redemption process, there is mention of refugees.

"Refugees in Zion. The fifth principle is that 'for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape... and among the remnant, those whom the L-rd will call.' (Yoel 3:5) Since, according to Midrash Tanchuma, Zion is in the line of Mashiach ben Yosef, whatever befell Yosef befell Zion. The Gaon said that this is hinted at also in the words 'among the remnant,' which in numerical value equals Mashiach ben Yosef.' (566), by means of whom, according to the Gaon, the ingathering of the exiles will be accomplished. As the number of ingathered increases, so the Sitra Achra (evil forces) will increase its strength. Then, another prosecutor will be added, against those who do not strengthen the ingathering of exiles after the beginning of the Redemption has started with the ingathering, for then in 'Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape... and among the remnant...' A word to the wise is sufficient. This distressed the Gaon a great deal."

The question is raised: If HaShem's desire for Israel to reside in Eretz Yisrael is so clear, then why do so many great rabbis still choose to live in exile and why do some even reject the Divine commandment to settle the Land of Israel?

In the fifth chapter of Kol HaTor, the Gaon is quoted as explaining the reason for many Torah scholars not encouraging their followers to actively participate in the Redemption process.

"The sin of the spies... hovers over the Nation of Israel in every generation.... How strong
Why do so many great rabbis still choose to live in exile?
is the power of the Sitra Achra that it succeeds in hiding from the eyes of our holy fathers the dangers of the klipot; from the eyes of Avraham, the klipah of exile... and in the time of the Mashiach, the Sitra Achra attacks the guardians of Torah with blinders... Many of the sinners in this great sin of, 'They despised the cherished Land,' and also many of the guardians of Torah, will not know or understand that they are caught in the sin of the spies, that they have been sucked into the sin of the spies in many false ideas and empty claims, and they cover their ideas with the already proven fallacy that the mitzvah of the settlement of Israel no longer applies in our day, an opinion which has already been disproved by the giants of the world, the Rishonim and Achronim."

By definition, anything that delays the sanctification of G-D's Name consequentially profanes it. By rejecting the mitzvah to build a Hebrew state in Eretz Yisrael and magnify G-d's greatness, many otherwise righteous individuals have become guilty of decreasing the public perception of His grandeur in the world.

"See - HaShem, your G-D, has placed the Land before you; go up and possess, as HaShem, G-D of your forefathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear and do not lose resolve." (Devarim 1:21)

The Ramban clearly explains that this mitzvah of conquering and settling the Land of Israel is a commandment for every generation at all times. The Shulchan Aruch states on this issue (Even HaEzer 75) that "according to all of the Rishonim and all of the Achronim, the Law follows the opinion of the Ramban."

It is a law of nature that the Hebrew Diaspora be eliminated and Israel can no longer reside in the exile securely. Jews will either come home of their own free will or scorn HaShem's Law by taking their chances in the exile. Because the situation of Jews living outside our borders is an objective desecration of G-d's holy Name, it cannot continue to exist and will come to an end one way or another.

What sustains the Hebrew Diaspora today is a psychological enslavement focusing on
What sustains the Hebrew Diaspora today is a psychological enslavement.
security and success for the individual Jew. The Maharal of Prague explains in Netzach Yisrael that this mental slavery is hinted at in the Hebrew language. The only difference between the words golah (exile) and geulah (redemption) is the letter aleph, which has the numerical value of one. Thus, whoever remains in the exile, thereby postponing Israel's redemption, is only doing so because he lacks the idea of "One," the complete belief in the unity of Israel and HaShem - in G-d being One and His Name being One over all in existence. Only by arriving at the awareness of "One" - the intrinsic unity and collective destiny of Am Yisrael - will Jews be able to break free from their psychological prisons of egoism and recognize G-d's unity in history and creation.

Once the Hebrew Nation is free, we can focus on living up to our national destiny as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation that will shine the Divine light of Torah to mankind.


More Arutz Sheva videos:


top