Friday, January 05, 2007

Just Not Here!


BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT VAYECHI
16 Tevet 5767/5-6 January 2007


JUST NOT HERE!

“Please, if I have found favor in your eyes, . . . do this kindness and truth with me - please do not bury me in Egypt.” What was the cause and concern that our forefather Ya'akov had, not to be buried in Egypt?

Was it because of the pain at the time of the resurrection of the dead that will take place at the end of times, when our Rabbis teach us that Hashem will make underground tunnels for the dead to roll back to Eretz Israel?

True, there will be much pain in this rolling “back home”, but it’s not a 6000-mile journey, as some will have to take - but rather, a very short one, from Egypt to Israel. Rather, Ya'akov's main concern was that he feared that being buried there might give his descendents reason to consider Egypt their homeland. For they would reason that if Egypt was not a holy place - different from the rest of the exiles – Ya'akov would surely not have been buried there. Ya'akov wanted his children to forever know that life in the exile was temporary.

And Ya'akov had good reason to consider this, for in spite of all of his warnings, the Jewish people still clung to the exile, so much so that the great majority refused to leave, as the Torah teaches us: “And Israel settled in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, they took holdings in it and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly”.

The “Kili Yakar” writes that this sentence is speaking poorly about the Jewish people, for in a place where the Jews were supposed to be temporary dwellers, where they should have been waiting anxiously to return home, they became full citizens. One might say, more Egyptian than the Egyptians. So much so, that Hashem had to take them out with a powerful hand - against their will - for they wanted nothing else but to stay in old Egypt-land. And on top of that, only 20 percent came out, the other 80 percent were so immersed in Egyptian culture that they refused to leave, and unfortunately suffered the fate of the Egyptians - death. As the old saying goes: To death do we part!

Has anyone heard of such a thing? Has it ever been told in the generations of mankind that a nation refuses to be redeemed? But still, this is the sad fact of the Jews. Ya'akov foresaw this and tried to teach this lesson to his descendents that the exile is only temporary: not a place to hang your hat, not a place to build multi-million dollar shuls, not a place where people build their palaces and call them home – yet still, his cry went unheeded.

Even Hashem Himself, Master of this world, regretted making the exile, as the Talmud teaches us: Three things Hashem regretted, one being the exile. Why? In the place where the exile was supposed to be a punishment for the Jewish people, away from their homeland, the Jews turned this temporary place of residence and made it into a permanent dwelling. And not just in Egypt alone; unfortunately, we find that in all the exiles where the Jews lived, they refused to heed the call to return and stayed for the “good life” that the exiles had to offer them.

From Babylonia, to the golden years of Spain, to Germany, up to our day - the Jew clings to the exiles with all his might, trying as he does to hold back history as it unfolds before our eyes. Still, when push comes to shove, it is Hashem, with His out-stretched hand and mighty wrath, Who will bring home His people. Who will hear His call?

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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