Pesach: The Mouth of Jacob

Our Rabbis said that in the Exile of Egypt, our power of speech was in exile, and required redemption from enslavement. That is still true.

Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Hirsch

Judaism Aryeh Hirsch
Aryeh Hirsch

“On that day I will cause the pride and strength of the House of Israel to flower, and to you I will grant an opening of mouth (פתחון פה) in their midst; and they will know (וידעו) that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 29; 21).

“The turnaround will come when the Torah’s depictions of eternal Truth will breath life into the into the לאומיות החול (the secular, material national reawakening of the last 130 years) and set the latter in her natural place as the preparation and beginning of the appearance of the full Redemption of Israel” ( Rav Tzve Y. Tau, Shiurim B’Pinkas 41, Page 56).

“Our responsibility is to make our כח המגזם (power of exaggeration and imagination) do Teshuva, repentance, directing it away from pettiness and destructive obsessions, to גדלות והתקון “ ( greatness and repair; ibid, page 70).

Rav Kook is discussing here many of the Talmud’s depictions of life after the Redemption and the coming of Messiah. One famous example is the Gemara in which Rabban Gamliel tells his students that in the world of the Messiah, a woman will give birth every day; one student scoffed at the idea, and was gently chided by the Rabbi that the idea is not that fantastic, as even now a chicken can lay an egg daily (Shabbos,30b).  

Rav Kook is explaining this “power of (seeming) exaggeration is the vision of Rabban Gamliel, a vision far beyond that of the here and now. A ben Yisrael, a true son of Israel, must partake of G-d’s vision, which sees “the inner core (תוך) lying in today’s (material) reality, the potential with the already actuated, and the נולד, all that will in the future grow from the seeds of the present.

When we are talking not of Israel’s physical reawakening, but of Israel’s תחיית הקודש, the reawakening of Israel’s holiness; we are dealing with Jew partaking in the limitless vision of his Creator. This frees Israel from שעבוד, enslavement to the iron rule of human limitations and the dimensions of existence as we know it” (ibid, p.73).

These ideas form the essence of the Seder night. As Rav Matis is wont to see, on the night of the 15th of Nisan we are not commemorating a night 3300 years ago when lowly Hebrew slaves were freed by G-d from Egypt. Rather, we are creating our Freedom, and doing so by that which separates human from animal: our powers of speech.

With that speech we are expressing our human faculty of discrimination and knowledge, which appear in the above quote from Ezekiel, and are featured prominently in the Torah’s story of the Exodus( Exodus4;10-17;Exodus 5;2; and Ex.10;2, among others).

Our Rabbis said that in the Exile of Egypt, our power of speech was in exile, and required redemption from enslavement. Unfortunately, this is true even today, thousands of years later. We are still enslaved what Rav Kook called “the darkness of ideas, materialistic jails, that lower the level of our lives to that of slaves” (ibid, p.69). Examples are daily and endless; I will give two:

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz has for decades been a staunch defender of Israel- up to a point: he doesn’t like Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria, and he doesn’t like their Rabbis. Those two define the limits of his mindset. In a recent op-ed, he correctly pointed out that the “Arabs” in 1936 refused the Peel Partition Plan to have Arabs and Jews share the Holy Land.

Suddenly, however, in  Dershowitz’s narrative, in 1947 these “Arabs” become “Palestinians”, again refusing Partition, and then making war on the Jews. Dershowitz’s personal mental bondage includes such unproven statements that “the Palestinians deserve a state” (I suppose on the basis of the number of Jews they’ve murdered and mutilated in the last 130 years); and ”Palestinian statehood will be good for both the Palestinians and the Israelis”(another murderous opportunity?). Dershowitz, like millions of others, is locked into his personal Egypt of the mind.

Another winner in the brainwashed category is Alon Pinkas, former consul general in New York City. His contribution to “darkness” was found about a month ago when he blasted the “naivete of Naftali Bennet and the Mizrachists in his party who think that the Bible is a foreign policy”.

Unfortunately, Israeli foreign policy and Hasbara (pr) have been in the hands of fools and knaves, who reject what Ben Gurion, no religious Zionist he, knew when he waved a Bible at the UN Partition discussions and said:” THIS is our Mandate.”

For in truth, the lesson of Pesach is that G-d is weaving history so as to make good His Biblical promise to Abraham to give his children, and all those who will join them in the search for truth, that Land. Any other explanation of what we are doing here is doomed to failure, as the last forty years of inept Hasbara have proven.

All arguments based on security, Holocaust, culture, etc. have led us down the road where we free the Jew-killers of the PLO, call terrorists partners, and have given veto-powers to the world over building even a Jewish shack in Jerusalem.

As an alternative, I present a recent event in Beit El: the political attaché (CIA man?) from the US consulate in Jerusalem made the rounds in March, going to Shiloh, Hevron and Beit El to find out what US citizen “settlers” were planning to do if the present “Peace(sic)” talks succeeded in evicting them from their homes.

A resident went to Rav Melamed of Beit El and asked him what he should say. The Rav answered:” Talk about the Geula”. Not feeling that he could present a dvar Torah on Geula (Redemption) as such to the CIA, the fellow brought a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label to the meeting, which occurred right after the Russian invasion of Crimea, and said: “ I would like to propose a toast to Israel, the US, their friendship, and to the Jewish Redemption. You know, the present Redemption began 200 years ago when hassidim and the students of the Vilna Gaon came back to this land. Since then, more and more Jews returned, and we now number six million plus." 

"But that Vilna Gaon said that when you see the Russian Navy breaking out of the Black Sea, into the Mediterranean, await shortly the fulfillment of Jewish Redemption; and since that maniac Putin has brought us this much closer to that Redemption, let us drink to it”.

The CIA man laughed, and drank to the Geula. Not to Palestinian statehood, Heaven forbid.

Rav Tau describes the “awakening of Holiness as our reaching new spiritual levels that are far above our state today”. That is for the future. But on this Pesach we can make a start by leaving the bonds that enslave our minds and asking the questions that need to be asked in an honest search for truth; as Rav Weinberg says, the Hagaddah directly answers only the first of the Four Questions.

We have many more questions, and it’s time we learned to be satisfied with the answers we can honestly give, and to abandon inadequate models (Peace plans,etc.) and mental bandaids that only lead to קטנות וחדלון, smallness and destruction. It’s time to replace “spokesmen” that do us a national disservice, and as Yechezkiel said, open our mouths with Jewish knowledge, pride and strength.