On the roof of the Aish center looking down at the Western Wall with Chevra & Davai in 2011

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Parsha Shemos – Why are we still in exile?

In the Torah portion of Shemos we get introduced and get to see the development of Moses our teacher (Moshe Rabeinu.) 

One of his first interactions as an adult was to witness the harshness of the exile and how the Egyptians abuse his brethren.  The Torah tells us that as he was walking about the Jewish people he came upon and Egyptian man beating a Jew, whose name was Dathan, with lashes and screaming at him. 

This the moment where Moses took his first step towards leadership of the Jewish people. Moses killed the Egyptian man and saved the life of his fellow Jew.  He buried the body in the sand and left the scene.

The next day, Moses went out again and saw the man that he had saved, Dathan, fighting with another man named Abiram.  Moses was in shock.  He tried to stop them by asking, why would you fight with each other?  We’re enslaved by wicked non-Jews.  The beat us.  They abuse us.  They rape our wives.  They murder our children.  Why would you possibly fight among ourselves when we’re surrounded by such a powerful, evil enemy?

Instead of recognizing the truth in his words, the two men mocked Moses… You’re still a young man, what do you know?  Who made you ruler over us?  Are you going to kill us like you killed the Egyptian?  They even went to Pharaoh and informed him that Moses had killed an Egyptian.

The Middrash tells us that prior to this event, Moses was very troubled by why G-d had allowed the Jewish people to suffer such an exile.  He searched for an answer.  Witnessing these two Jews fight amongst themselves and how they reacted to him, he said to himself…. Now, I know why we’re in exile.

According to our tradition, this even happened roughly 3,500 years ago… and it was as true then as it is today.

The Jewish people are still a small people surrounded by enemies that hate us.  Israel is surrounded by 22 Arab states containing 400 million Arabs.  The world’s Muslim population is 1.6 billion.  While a portion of Arabs and Muslims are good and decent, there is sizable portion that would like nothing more to see every Jew dead or enslaved.  The United Nations consistently votes against Israel and ignores the atrocities of the Arab world.  Circumcision and ritual slaughter is under attack from San Francisco to Germany.  On a slightly lighter, but very telling note, watch Sasha Baron Cohen’s parody in an Arizona bar “Throw the Jew down the well” and see how many people in Middle America think about us.

We’re literally surrounded.  We’re under attack religiously.  We’re under attack in the global political world.  We’re under literal attack with rockets and suicide bombers…. And we still fight amongst ourselves.

The Talmud tells is that the destruction of the 2nd Temple and Roman exile, which we’re still in today, was caused by the senseless hatred and fighting among Jews.

There is only one cure for the problems we face.  There is only cure for senseless hatred… unconditional love.  When the Jewish world as a whole, and us as individuals can recognize that we must not fight with a fellow Jew under any condition… when we must love our fellow Jew with all of our heart and soul… then and only then will we see an end to this long and bitter exile and peace in Israel and among all the Jewish people.   

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