Shemot: Awakenings

Why is such insane hatred allowed to go on?

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

As sefer Shemot begins, and the amazing saga of the Exodus unfolds, we repeat an oft-asked question: Why 10 plagues? Why the long, drawn-out departure? Why did HaShem not take us out of Egypt in a flash, with one dramatic, lightning move? Why all the rigmarole?

Answers abound. The 10 plagues correspond, say chazal, to the 10 Commandments, or to the 10 utterances that created the world; through them, G-d wished to dismantle Egypt's gods, their economy, and their physical security by air, sea and land, etc.

But I think we can sum up it all up by saying that the overall purpose of the Exodus was to teach two lessons - one to the Egyptians, the other to Am Yisrael.

The Jewish People had sunk to a low, low level in Egypt during our 210-year stay there; almost to the point of no return. We had so inculcated and absorbed Egyptian mores and culture that we were virtually indistinguishable
The overall purpose of the Exodus was to teach two lessons.
from our adversaries. The Medrash relates that at the Reed Sea - as Pharoah's forces closed in on the escaping Israelites - the angels told HaShem they could not tell who was who.

Regaining our unique sense of peoplehood and our identity as a G-dly nation was no simple task. HaShem had to demonstrate, time and time again, that we had a special destiny and code of behavior, and that Egypt was not our "natural habitat" - far from it. Yes, Mitzrayim needed to be taught the lesson that slavery is immoral, that idolatry is false, that justice will prevail. But, truth be told, they were only the secondary students; we were the primary pupils.

The depravity of Egypt finally became clear to us; so did the unity of our nation and the realization that if we stuck together and stayed loyal to HaShem Echad, then we could overcome all obstacles and achieve all miracles - then and forever more.

Fast-forward to 2009. We watch in living color as, all over the globe, massive protests are held demonizing the Jews who dare to defend themselves from brutal attacks on our innocents. We see the wild, screaming mobs express solidarity with the barbaric sadists and murderers of Hamas, who have sworn to finish what Hitler began. Why does HaShem permit it? Why is such insane hatred allowed to go on?

For one reason only: to send a powerful wake-up call to Jews in Melbourne and Manchester, Chicago and Shanghai, Florida and France. At the end of the day, our only family is our fellow Jew, and our only home is in Israel.

Will we get the message? Alas, 80% of the Jews of Egypt never made it out of there; only the faithful few would be liberated. But now, our generation has a new chance to make the right choices. Will our communal cheer be "Go, Go Goshen" or "Am Yisrael Chai"?