Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Nissan 5764 - March 31, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Light in an Increasingly Darkening World

The wicked son, we are told, would not have been redeemed from Mitzrayim, had he been there at the time. He would not have been worthy. But there were really many Yidden who were lost in Mitzrayim. Chazal say that 80 percent were killed during the plague of darkness because they were reshoim.

Those who wish to be part of Klal Yisroel must make themselves appear as if they just left Mitzrayim (Pesochim 10:5, Rambam, Hilchos Chometz Umatzoh, 7:6).

Are we playing a game? Are we living a lie? Chas vesholom! Or maybe we should say, "Halevai!" Even if on the Seder night we can be true bnei chorin whose only concern is, thus, to be avdei Hashem, free of any distractions, yet at other times who can testify that he does not serve Pharaoh to some extent, whether more or less?

HaRav Moshe Shapira explains that those who approach time as a straight line that continues inexorably from one state to the next and each year is utterly new, without any special connection to the year before -- davka that approach leads to a denial of renewal. Man cannot add anything new to the universe. Everything that happens is the unfolding of the consequences of the boundary conditions that prevailed at the origin of the physical world.

Only those who live by the chodesh that is cyclical, bringing around the recurring seasons as ordained by the Divine design, see the possibility of chiddush, true innovation and renewal. Only acceptance of the yoke of Heaven and the recognition of the cyclical nature of history, can lead to reception of the Torah that makes us bnei chorin, truly morally free.

Seeing ourselves as having just left Mitzrayim, is explicitly set in the context that we find ourselves. Bechol dor vodor chayov odom lir'os es atzmo ke'ilu hu [be'atzmo] yotzo [atoh] miMitzrayim. We see ourselves as having gone out of Mitzrayim within the generation that we find ourselves. Every year on Pesach, there is a special Divine influence as part of Pesach, which enables us to have a personal, immediate Exodus from the Mitzrayim in which we find ourselves in our generation.

In some generations, one had to be a philosopher and a perceptive social critic in order to want to free himself of its influence. To outward appearance, people were civilized and ruled by reason. Mankind as a whole seemed to be progressing towards increased knowledge that was leading to development in all areas of human endeavor that promised a great and desirable future. It took a sharp eye to discern the decadence that flowed beneath the surface.

In our day, it should be easier to want to get out from under the Mitzrayim that threatens us. All the rot has burst to the surface. No one is ruled by reason. Everyone is just trying to enjoy himself. Doctors use their tremendous knowledge to determine when and how to kill their patients. People blow themselves up just to murder others, and not to advance any particular positive plan or vision of the future -- and the world just accepts it and "understands" it. Art has no pretension to uplift or enlighten; it just hopes to entertain in order to make a fast buck. Business is not run to provide an honorable parnossoh to workers and customers, but to enrich the managers. Morality is shattered not just at the margins of society. Now there are successful efforts to "redefine" the family, the basic unit of society, to include abominations that run counter to nature and all decency and will certainly destroy society eventually. They have long lost the central purpose of marriage which is to live in harmony and be fruitful.

For most of the year, our charge is to be, in the words of the American Agudath Yisroel, "a true light in an increasingly darkening world." On the night of Pesach, we join with our families to retell and relive the journey from gnus to shvach, and from darkness to a great light.

May we all be zoche to it -- and maybe we can spread some of it around in the world.

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