When Will the World Finally Repay the Jews?

The Book of Shemot is the Dawn of a New Age for the Jewish People.

Joseph Frager,MD,

צילום: סרגי אטל, פלאש 90

The Book of Shemot is the Dawn of a New Age for the Jewish People. Parshat Shemot starts us off with a bang! "A new King arose over Egypt, who did not know Yosef". Rashi says he acted as though he did not know Yosef.

The Mayanah Shel Torah quoting the Imrei Aish LaZaddik Hakodosh MiGumbin says Pharoah did not gain a true understanding and a true insight into Yosef and the story of Yosef. He did not heed the fact that Yosef could happen again. In other words he did not understand G-d's operating system and the fact that G-d could make Yosef happen all over again if he so desired. The MiShulchan Govoha quoting R' Yosef Leib Nandik says Pharoah was in "Denial".

He made it seem as though Yosef never existed. He pushed him out of his conscious. How many times has this happened in Jewish History? It has been the rule rather than the exception. The world owes the Jewish People a Great Debt but is in "Denial". One does not have to look too far to see the Pharoah scenario play out. The Jews had been in Germany for close to 1000 years. They had been an integral part of German Society.

They fought in its wars. They built up the economy. They produced great intellectuals, great scientists, great musicians and great writers. Jews fought in World War I on behalf of the Germans. My grandfather, Solomon Stern, of Blessed Memory fought in the Austrian Army in World War I. He was wounded and almost died. Many Jews lost their lives on behalf of the Germans and Austrians. Many cut of their trigger fingers to avoid being sent to the front lines.

I remember well seeing the boot of a Jewish German Soldier with his name written in Hebrew inside. He had been killed in Alsace Lorraine. Parshat Shemot states that "The Children of Israel were fruitful, and moved about, and increased, and became strong, very, very much so; until the Land became filled with them". The Seforno on this Posuk says that "after the death of the original Seventy Souls, their descendants deviated from the ways of their Fathers and followed the ways of the creeping creatures who pursue a path leading to the pit". My Rebbe Rabbi Nison Alpert, Z"TL commenting on "and the Land became filled with them"(1:7) says that "rather than heed Yosef's warnings they had begun to assimilate into the surrounding culture".

In Germany the Jews held high positions in all walks of life. Germany grew exponentially because of the contributions by the Jewish People. In 1933 everything changed. A new "King" arose whose name was Hitler ( Umachshemo). All the positive the Jews had done for Germany were made into negatives. It was not just that Germany failed to be "Makir Tov"(to show gratitude and appreciation) but any contribution made by a Jew was paid back with scorn, derision and ingratitude. Rabbi Nebenzahl S"HLITA writes extensively on the lack of "HaKarat HaTov" by Pharoah. It may just be that Pharoah like the Nazis not only were not Makir Tov to all that Yosef and the Jews had done but actually minimized, denigrated and even demonized all that Yosef and the Jews had done. This was despite the fact that Yosef had promulgated the Law of the Fifth which made Pharoah extremely wealthy. It was very hard to deny this reality but it appears Pharoah did. Yosef instituted Milah(circumcision) in Egypt.

Pharoah repealed this Law and actually forbad the Jews from Circumcision as well. Milah for Jews was not reinstituted till the time of bringing the Korban Pesach at the time of Moshe. According to the Ben Ish Chai although the Jews were in Egypt varying number of years, the Ben Ish Chai says that the actual number of years of extreme torture and torment was 86 years. This is precisely one Fifth the total number of years of Bondage which he brings down as 430. G-d was merciful in honor of Yosef's enactment of the Law of the Fifth even though Pharoah did not respect it.

G-d does not forget what man does in this world. The lesson to all Jews is that we are never safe in the Galut. A "New King" can arise at any moment. He or she may not recognize any of the contributions the Jewish People have made. We are owed a huge debt from thousands of years of helping everyone succeed. I do believe that some day soon the World will recognize that fact. In the meantime, we have cause to worry as did the Jews of Egypt and Germany.