Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Adar I 5763 - February 12, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
A Candidate for Ancient Egypt

by Rabbi Moshe Young

On the desk of Tommy Lapid, the Israeli expert for the rejection of the Jewish soul, there stands a figure of a chossid, with bekishe and payos. If you press a button on this figure, its arm shoots out to hit you on your nose.

There are many Jews in Israel today who unfortunately have such a profound hatred for Torah and orthodoxy that they cannot wait for the day when the orthodox Jew will have no say whatsoever in the governing of the State of Israel. So by voting for the Shinui Party, they hoped to change the essence of the Jew and be free from all mitzvos, thereby breaking with the long heritage of Klal Yisroel which we acquired at Sinai. The orthodox Jew is portrayed as an impediment to democracy, to freedom of speech, to civil liberties and to loose living. "It's time for change!" they cry, "and stop these chareidi Jews from forcing their opinions upon us!"

In truth, Israel should really be a theocratic state. But until Moshiach comes this will not be the case.

It is not that theocracy inherently contradicts democracy. It is only when the truth of Torah does not sit well with the population that there is a perception, Torah rule excludes the people from law- making. When the population does not see that a Torah way of life is totally beneficial for society then, unless the population can vote and make decisions about what they believe to be good for people, they will indeed equate a theocracy with a dictatorship.

Therefore, the only time when there will be no complaints by any section of the community against an exclusively Torah existence will be when the yetzer hora is eradicated. This can only happen when Moshiach comes. So until then we will have to contend with the Tommy Lapids of Jewry (with their nose- punching Chassidic models) who project virtual images of democracy which in reality are nothing more than the dictatorship of the yetzer hora.

The essence of ancient Egypt is contained within the two words: Mitzrayim and Par'oh (see Michtav MeEliyahu 2. Pesach). Mitzrayim means "restrictions" (metzorim), whereas Par'oh means "freedom" (pora -- "breaking out"). HaRav Dessler zt"l explains that Egypt was a place of slavery. It was a place which restricted movement both physically and mentally. No slave ever escaped from Egypt. The powerful influence which Egypt had over the bodies and minds of all who came within its borders was total. There was no escape.

Yet paradoxically, the influence was exerted by stressing freedom of behavior. The mind with all its imagination and fantasies was free to express itself in any way a person wanted. The natural inclination for self-gratification and self-satisfaction was allowed to express itself in any way, without restriction. The duress of the culture, therefore, was expressed by forcing a person to reject all forms of inhibition. The result was the combination of slavery with freedom. In simple language, the yetzer hora was the controlling force of the individual.

It is, therefore, no coincidence that the angel (the Sar) of Egypt is Samael, the same angel who is in charge of Gehinnom. Gehinnom is a place which is totally negative. It is a place where the inappropriate desires of a person which were never restricted in life, are again reactivated but can never be fulfilled. The pain of continuous unfulfillment of one's desires without any end to the suffering is one of the afflictions of Gehinnom. So Egypt meant wicked behavior with total abandon, and Gehinnom is wishful wicked behavior with no relief.

The Midrash Rabbah (Shemos Section 14) asks: Where did the darkness in the plague of darkness come from? R. Yehudah says that it came from "above." R. Nechemiah says that it came from Gehinnom.

The darkness was of two types. The plague lasted for six days. The first three days consisted of ordinary darkness, while the second three days had darkness which could be felt so that anyone who was standing could not sit down, and the one who was sitting could not stand up.

The Maharal (Gevuros HaShem 34) explains this Midrash, which in turn is explained by Rav Dessler (Michtav MeEliyahu 2, Sidrah Bo).

When Hashem created the world, He put in the world the concept of evil. There was a tree in the Garden of Eden which was the "tree of knowledge of good and evil." The world in its creation had to have some fault in it. Only Hashem is perfect, so He automatically creates something which is not perfect. It is the purpose of man to avoid anything which stands in the way of total service to Hashem. Before the world was created, there was only Hashem, so when He created the world, there was a darkness which came with it. That darkness was the absence of light, so Hashem put light into the world, the Torah. So the darkness was just a negative phenomenon and needed light to remove it.

There is, however, another form of darkness which is not just absence of light. It is a darkness which blots out light. The behavior of man, if it is bad, creates an intervention between Hashem and ourselves. It takes light and shuts it out. That darkness is a positive one which assumes physical proportions and displaces the light of Torah.

So when the Midrash asks where the darkness in Egypt came from, the answer is that in the first three days the darkness was that which came from the same darkness which came from Hashem at the creation of the world. It was a negative darkness which needed the light of Torah to dispel it. However, the second period of darkness was the manifestation of the wicked behavior of man. It was a positively destructive force of blackness which emanated from Gehinnom where such darkness resides as a result of man's behavior.

There are many Jews in Israel who have never really been aware of real Torah living. There are also many Russian immigrants and others who never had the chance. But within the population there are also many who know quite well that the Jewish nation is founded upon Torah. They do not deny it, but instead of remembering that we were delivered from Egypt with all that it represented they want to retrace their steps back to Egypt. They look to the perceived freedom of behavior. "O that we would be in Egypt where we ate from the fleshpots and we satisfied our appetites free from the burden of mitzvos!"

They might not want to live in Egypt today, but they still want to import it all to Eretz Yisroel.

For those who simply have not experienced Torah and mitzvos, we need to remove their darkness by allowing rays of Torah light to dispel that darkness. But those who have a hatred towards Yiddishkeit and are fearful of the beneficial imposition of a theocracy because it conflicts with the freedom of self- gratification, need more than some rays of Torah. They have become encapsulated within the darkness of Gehinnom and are unable to move from their position.

The Shinui Party is such a group that wants Jews to return to ancient Egypt. The plagues of Egypt were not just meant for the Egyptians. They were also to serve as lessons for us. So in mentioning every day the Exodus from Egypt, we become conscious of the implications. By rejection of those who wish to transform the essence of Judaism into the imposed freedom of a so-called democracy where inhibitions are thrown to the wind, we will strengthen Yiddishkeit in Eretz Yisroel.

It will help towards the coming of Moshiach when we will welcome a true theocracy when everyone will be willing to look to Hashem to lead us on a path to true happiness and contentment.

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