Elimination of the Exile
Tzvi FishmanBefore making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter....
At least 600 registrants are expected to stream into Reston, Virginia today to attend the fifth annual “National Jewish Retreat.” Held at the plush Reston Hyatt Hotel, not far from Vienna, Virginia, the several day Retreat has an around-the-clock lineup of dozens of dynamic lectures about all aspects of Jewish life. Well, almost all aspects. The most important lecture is missing – “The Elimination of the Exile.”
Too bad that no speaker has been invited to tell the truth, that every day that we sit in foreign lands and try to fit in with the gentiles, they hate us more and more.
Referring to the attitude of the Egyptians toward the Jews, King David wrote, “He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants” (Ps. 105:25).
Why did Hashem suddenly turn the hearts of the Egyptians against the Jews?
Rabbi Meir Kahane explains that the Children of Israel arrived in Egypt by invitation of the Egyptians and were received with open arms. Pharaoh said, “Bring your father and your families and come to me. I will give you the best land in Egypt. You will eat the fat of the land... Be not concerned with your belongings, for the best of Egypt will be yours” (Gen. 45:18-20). He also told Yosef, “The land of Egypt is at your disposal. Settle your father and brothers in the best area” (Gen. 47:6).
“Israel lived in Egypt, in the Goshen district. They took possession of it and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly” (Gen. 47:27).
Rabbi Kahane explains this verse by citing the profound commentary of the “K’li Yakar”:
“They became so completely settled that they did not wish to leave Egypt, and G-d had to remove them by force. Those who did not wish to leave died in the three days of darkness.”
Thus the Torah states, “Now you will begin to see what I will do to Pharaoh. With a strong hand he will let them go and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land” (Ex. 6:1).
Both Rashi and Rashbam interpret “with a strong hand” to mean that Pharaoh would “drive them out against Israel’s will.”
The children of Israel settled down in Egypt, sowed deep roots and proliferated, and became wealthy. They became possessed with possessing the land. Out of their love affair with Egypt, they cast off G-d’s yoke and wished to be like the Egyptians. As our sages said (Tanchuma Yashan, Shemot, 6): “‘The land was filled with them’ (Ex. 1:7): The theaters and circuses were filled with them.”
But why listen to me? From this point on, let Rabbi Kahane himself explain from this abridged section of his book, “The Jewish Idea,” Chapter 34:
HERE we see the perpetual process of Israel in the exile: G-d would decree exile for a particular reason; not, G-d forbid, so Israel would settle down there, but in order for them to fulfill a particular role, such as serving out a punishment, or, as in Egypt, publicizing a miracle and sanctifying G-d’s Name through their redemption.
Yet, they “sought to destroy their own souls” (see Psalm, 63:10). They did not grasp G-d’s ways and intentions, and they settled down in the exile for their own pleasure and benefit. It was this way with the first exile in Egypt, and so too, in Babylonia. Accordingly, every single exile was initially a refuge, yet they blindly turned it into a real “homeland.”
For that reason, when each deadline came, G-d had to drive them out of the exile against their will, as in Bereshit Rabbah, 33:6, on the verse, “The dove could not find any place to rest its feet” (Gen. 8:9): Had the dove found a resting place, it would not have returned.
Israel were rebellious children who loathed the Pleasant Land, turning their backs on the Holy Land and holiness. They scorned the Divine command to settle in Eretz Yisrael, seeking to dwell in tranquility and be citizens in the lands of the nations. This is why we were beset by so much trouble and grief and holocausts. These constitute nothing but the wrath of the king punishing a servant who fled to the cemetery to practice idolatry, when the possibility of returning to his master’s home where he is commanded to dwell stands open before him.
Israel will leave the exile — willingly or by force.
The very act of living in the exile, even the most comfortable, tranquil exile there is, under the authority and sovereignty of the nations, dependent on their benevolence, generosity and tolerance, is nothing but a Chilul Hashem, a desecration of G-d, an abandonment of G-d’s authority to that of the non-Jew. It is a Chilul Hashem to go from being a landlord in Eretz Yisrael to being a tenant and minority, beholden to the non-Jew for one’s protection and security. Only in Eretz Yisrael can G-d’s Kingdom and Kiddush Hashem (sanctification) be realized.
The source of impurity and foreign culture is the exile. That is where the gentile influence on a pure and holy people originates and where their corruption begins. It is through this that the nations ridicule Israel and profane G-d’s name, as it says, “They profaned My holy name, in that men said of them, ‘These are the people of the L-rd, and they are gone out of His Land” (Ezek. 36:20).
This is why G-d took the Jewish People by force out of Egypt, with those not wishing to leave dying in the three days of darkness. It is why G-d destroyed exile after exile, including a sizable portion of the exile just a short time ago, Heaven help us. G-d will do the same even in our own age, that of redemption “in its time,” unless we gird ourselves with strength to fulfill the mitzvah of the G-d of the Land in settling the Land of Israel:
“Go up and occupy it, as the L-rd, G-d of your fathers, has told you. Do not be afraid and do not be concerned” (Deut. 1:21).
The Jewish People have no choice. The exile will be eliminated, and they will leave it. They can do this of their own free will, with G-d’s blessing, as it says, “Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid” (Jer. 30:10). If, however, they stubbornly insist on being “like the nations, the families of the lands” (Ezek. 20:32), remaining in the exile, then, “As I live, says the L-rd G-d.... I will bring you out from the peoples... with a mighty hand, an outstretched arm, and with anger poured out.” (Ezek. 20:33-34). Countless Jews will fall on the mountains of the nations in their exilic homes, and only remnants will escape in fear from the exilic cemetery.
This last exile and its redemption will be like the first exile and its redemption: Just as there, when the time of reckoning came, G-d did not allow Israel to remain in the exile, the same here as well.
Yet no one listens or hears except for “one from each city and one from each family” (Jer. 3:14).
G-d proclaims to all the righteous of every generation: “Righteous of the earth! Although Torah study is dear to you, you have behaved poorly, for you awaited My Torah, but not My Kingdom. I swear that I Myself shall testify positively on behalf of whoever awaited My kingdom” (Pesikta Rabbati, 34).
I believe the point is that G-d rebukes the righteous of the exile throughout the generations, because they were ready and willing to accept His Torah, and they toiled over it to fulfill it, yet they did not await G-d’s Kingdom. That is, they did not toil or sacrifice to restore the Jewish People and G-d’s Kingdom to Eretz Yisrael and, thereby, to eliminate the Chilul Hashem of the exile and thus sanctify G-d’s name.
It follows that it is a mitzvah and duty for every Jew, especially in our day at the start of redemption, to cry out “The L-rd is King!” in order to crown Him King over ourselves, over Israel, and over the whole world now. Obviously, it is not just a matter of crying out these words. Rather, as with the first redemption at the splitting of the sea, we have to perform acts of faith and trust such as the deed of Nachshon, who, by jumping into the water, fearlessly endangered himself for Kiddush Hashem.
Whoever “utters the mighty acts of the L-rd” (Ps. 106:2) and crowns G-d King now through deeds of faith, trust and self sacrifice, will transform redemption “in its time,” which comes with terrible suffering, to an easy redemption “in haste,” such that no nation or tongue will ever control us. Lack of faith and trust is what separates us from being redeemed by our Father in heaven. It is this which leaves most of the Jewish People in the cemetery of exile, breeding ground for a future holocaust, G-d forbid.
Lack of trust in G-d’s Oneness, coupled with the fear of the nations, the alien concept that we must rely on them or we have no hope, and the calculation that one had better sit tranquilly in the exile “since earning a living in Eretz Yisrael must be harder than splitting the sea” — such petty lack of faith is what keeps the Jew in the exile. This mind set is hinted at in the Hebrew language ordained by G-d. In Hebrew there is no difference between “gola,” גולה exile, and “geulah,” גאולה redemption, except the letter aleph, with a numerical value of one. Thus, whoever remains in the exile, thereby postponing Eretz Yisrael’s redemption, is only doing so because he lacks the “One,” the complete belief in G-d’s being One and His Name One.
(Now that's what I call a lecture!)