Parsha Va’era 5770: Reconnecting the Jewish Soul

by Moshe Burt

At the conclusion of Parsha Shemos, Moshe and Aaron are confronted, upon exiting Pharoah’s Palace, by the B’nai Yisrael who are in deeper despair than before because of the increased workload, i.e. finding their own straw while the quotas remain the same, which resulted from Pharoah’s fury at Moshe’s first effort to secure their freedom and exit from Mitzrayim.

Our Parsha begins with the dialogue which Moshe Rebbeinu has with Hashem prior to again speaking to the B’nai Yisrael. And so, after Hashem rebukes Moshe for his complaint and reassures him that redemption is at hand, Moshe again addresses the B’nai Yisrael as to his meeting with Pharoah;

“And Moshe spoke so [Hashem’s promise of imminent Redemption] to the B’nai Yisrael and they did not listen to Moshe for anguish of spirit and hard work.” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 6, posuk 9)

Rabbi Artscroll cites two interpretations;

One was held by “most commentators that the verse explains that their negative attitude was due not to lack of faith, but to the difficult physical and emotional circumstances under which they labored.” (Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Shemos, Perek 6, pusuk 9, page 320)

The second interpretation was held by Sforno that Moshe’s message did not evoke in the people a faith in G’d as Avraham had as expressed in Breish’t Perek 15, posuk 6;

“And he trusted in Hashem, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

The Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary on Sefer Shemos, Perek 6, posuk 9, page 321 therefore states;

“As a result, they lost the priviledge of going to the Promised Land and their children were the ones for whom the promise … was fulfilled. The reason for their failure was their insufficiency of spirit. The posuk concludes, however, that had it not been for the hard work, they would have overcome their impatience and heeded Moshe’s appeal.”

These interpretations are amplified with recollection of a vort from Shem Mishmuel who speaks about the disconnection between intellect and vocalization, and the heart and neshama which took place during the enslavement in Egypt (Shem Mishmuel pages 224-225).

According to the understanding of the cited vort, only once the B’nai Yisrael were redeemed, could the circuit; the connection between thought and it’s vocalization and the heart and neshama be completed and the B’nai Yisrael then be able to vocalize it’s deepest, heartfelt words and faith.

How does the above relate to our contemporary times? How does the disconnect of the Jews in Mitzrayim relate to today’s modern-day Israeli disconnect from their land and from Judaism?

For most contemporary Israelis, the horrendous Israeli secular education system has inculcated generations of Israelis with a disconnection from anything Jewish such that the current generation does not know why it is here, sees nothing Kadosh — Holy about the Land of Israel or any part thereof and thus can’t be bothered with anything not directly connected with their getting through the next day, week or month. So what if their fellow Jews are evicted from outposts, or expelled by the thousands, or tens or hundreds of thousands from their homes on Jewish land, or that Jonathan Pollard languishes in American prison or that Gilad Shalit remains captive for lack of a rescue plan due to successive spineless, equivocating, anti-Torah Israeli governments.

The Israeli secular system seemingly has succeeded in creating the New Jew, the breeding ground for what Emmanuel Feldman once quoted from the Book of Isaiah in an article in Jerusalem Post; “Your leaders have become plunderers, associates of thieves, lovers of bribery, pursuers of payoffs.” (Isaiah 1:23).

To brainwashed, dumbed-down, inculcated secular Israelis; the Jews who live in Yehuda and the Shomron or Kiryat Sefer or Beitar Illit or the Jews who lived in Gush Katif are objects of derision and disdain out of leftist dogma that Israel stole the land from the Arabs and that religious Jews usurped the land as their own. Never mind that, as a person once opined in an email to this author, that “the Right should start protesting the fact that a lot of LEFT WING areas, like Ramat Aviv and probably Savyon, are built on Arab lands!”

To Yoseph Q. Secular Israel, Hashem, Jewish history and connection to the Land seems abstract, not real, not tangible and thus meaningless compared with the government’s forced daily matzav of making ends meet and putting food on the table, not to mention the forced feeding of Leftist agenda media drivle to the masses.

The pintele yid seems too far beneath the surface of many. This seems true even though, at various levels according to statistics, various traditions of Judaism i.e. fasting on Yom Kippur, cleaning the house of chometz on Pesach, lighting Shabbos candles, etc. are kept by many or most Israelis.

This generation’s youth know not how to recite even the Shema in their native Iv’rit peh. And they do not know their history; not 5770 years of Jewish history, not even the events and personalities of their nearly 60 years of contemporary Israeli history. Add to that, his parents are up to their eyeballs in red, that’s the red of the bank minus and Ma’as Hachnasah (Tax) bite.

So how or what do we do as a first step toward confronting a run-and-hide Israeli mentality with reality when their hearts and souls are disconnected from Jewish intellect, knowledge and speech? How do we convey reality and the consequences of destructo governing polices? How do re-establish the connection between intellect and vocalization of the Israeli with his Jewish heart and neshama?

And it seems that substantial Chareidi segments, perhaps even the majority of Chareidim similarly suffer a disconnect from the Land of Israel. They know that they live where the Shechinah (the direct connection with Hashem) resides, they pray and learn Torah but lack the the third dimension, the translation into application of tefillah, learning and Chesed in order to confront the evil regime which acts to undermine Torah at every turn. It will be interesting to watch Chareidi reaction as the on-again, off-again litigation regarding such Chareidi areas as Kiryat Sefer and Beitar Illit proceeds in the courts.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos! Chodesh Tov!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.