24 December 2010

Parashat Shemot


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kreuser SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

18 Tevet 5771/24-25 December 2010


"And the child grew and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became a son to her."

If one would have lined up all the important Jews living in Egypt in the time of the exile, all the "Gedolim" - all the members of the "Sanhedrin" - and asked them who would be the redeemer of the Jewish people, who would take us out of Egypt and bring us into the Promised Land, the last one on the list would certainly have been Moshe Rabbenu. Moshe, who not only grew up in the palace of Pharaoh, but at an early age was given the responsibility for running the kingdom, and being that he grew up with the Egyptians - non-Jews, never going to the local Talmud Torah, there certainly were many who questioned his leadership as a Jew, as the redeemer. As we find when he broke up a quarrel between two Jews who said to him, "Who placed you as a leader over us?". And who would have blamed them? He acted and dressed as an Egyptian, but still, he was chosen by Hashem to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt.

David, too, as a youth, was also never consided to be the chosen one. In fact, if you had a daughter you probably would not have let her go out on a date with David. We find that when the prophet Samuel came to the house of Yishai to find the new king of Israel, as instucted by G-d, David was not even considered. In fact, he was so despised by his brothers, that when Samuel came, David was sent out with the flocks. But when all was said and done, it was David who was chosen to lead the Jewish people, as he wrote in the book of Psalms: "The stone which was cast out by the builders became the head of the house."

When King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jewish people to return to their land at the beginning of the Second Temple period, most Jews could not believe that this was G-d's will. How is it possible, they said, that a non-Jew will lead us back to the Holy Land? We are waiting for the son of David to bring us back home. So the great majority did not return. Some years later, Ezra the Scribe went to all the Jewish communities in the exile, encouraging them to return to the Land of Israel. In Djerba, a small island off Tunisia, the Jewish community there told Ezra that it cannot be G-d's will that a non-Jewish king return us to Israel. This, they said, is not the redemption that we have been waiting for. But they were in fact terribly mistaken, and the fact they the Jews did not return to Israel was the cause of us missing our chance to have the Final Redemption.

Some 90 years ago, when Lord Rothschild began to buy up properties in the Land of Israel for Jews to settle, many said that this is not the way of the Redemption; this is not what we have been waiting for. We expect a knock on the door from King David telling us to pack up and to bring us to the Holy Land. The Netziv, who lived at that time, wrote about the people who were complaining of those Jews going to live and redeem the Land, that "who are we to give advice to G-d on how to redeem His people?". They cited the example of how Moshe was raised in the house of Pharaoh - the exact opposite of what one would think the redeemer should be.

Today, too, many raise the concern that the State of Israel is not G-d's will. Certainly, they say, the redemption will not come about through the vote of the U.N. Still, who are we to give advice to the Master of the World on how to redeem His people? When we look at the facts on the ground, we see that the great bulk of Torah learning today is in the Land. Soon, if not already, the majority of the Jewish people will be living here. Only the blind do not see the Redemption unfolding. Jump aboard the Redemption train - it left the station long ago. You don't want not to be on it!


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