Parshat Va’era 5771: The Roots of Disconnection From Jewish Power Sources — Then and Now

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.

So how does the severed circuit connection of the B’nai Yisrael in Mitzrayim 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 many of the current generation have no knowledge of even so fundamental Mitzvah as “Shema Yisrael…”, have no clue as to why they are here, see 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, non-Torah-rooted, 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 ALL objects of derision and disdain derived by their blind gullibility to 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-agendized 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 the most fundamental of Mitzvot — how to even recite the Shema in their native Iv’rit peh. Even Jewish children, hidden at young ages in gentile institutions by their parents that they would escape the Sho’a, still remembered the Shema when Jewish rescue agencies came to retrieve them after the war. Accounts have it that the rescuers went from institution to institution reciting Shema as a means of repatriating the children when they joined in the recitation. But this generation’s Israeli youth do not know their history; not 5771 years of Jewish history, not even the events and personalities of their nearly 63 years of contemporary Israeli history, such as the Entebbe rescue. Add to ignorance of religious tradition and contemporary Israeli history, their parents are up to their eyeballs in red, that’s the red of the bank minus and Ma’as Hachnasah (Tax) bite.

The brainwashing, endoctrination and inculcation of secular Israelis seems soo complete that common-sense demographics arguments, that in truth the Jewish population is growing at a far greater rate than that of Arabs in Israel, are obscurred by the government of Israel’s near-total reliance upon bogus ‘pa (sic)” representations of demographics for its census information.

We keep watching as dumbed-down, gullible Israelis silently accept absurdity after absurdity such as “reformed” terrorists trained to be PA policemen, constant uncovering of contraband at Gaza checkpoints, Israeli governance’s meek submission to domination by a foreign “superpower” claiming to be an ally. And what about the recent massive fires in the North which destroyed countless dunams and millions of trees? The authorities attributed the cause to carelessness and negligence when Arab terrorist arson seems more likely to have been the cause of the catastrophe.

Sadly, the utter absurdity of these and countless other events is lost on most Israelis for their gullibility, lack of erudition and lack of Torah rooting, as well as government leftist-agendized censorship and news boycotting by the leftist-agendized Israeli print and electronic media. But even were the ramifications of these countless absurdities to surface and penetrate the consciousness of most Israelis, would they even then wake up and get fired up at the length and breadth of of their government’s gross deceptions and malfeasance regarding national responsibility and security? Or would we hear more of the abhorrent Israeli phrase; “Ein Ma’ala Sot” — what can we do (we’re powerless)??

So how or what do we do as a first step toward confronting with reality, the run-and-hide in-denial Israeli mentality which fuels the destructo policies of successive governments? The hearts and souls of most are disconnected from Jewish intellect, knowledge and speech? How do we convey reality and the consequences of such destructo governing polices? How do we 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 who by their spirituality ought to know better, 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 outside of the Beit Medrash, in order to confront the evil regime which acts to undermine Torah at every turn. It will be interesting to watch Chareidi reaction if or when the on-again, off-again litigation regarding such Chareidi areas as Kiryat Sefer and Beitar Illit proceeds in the courts.

The is one more point which needs to be brought here, and it goes back to a citing from Rav Hirsch z”l in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman) on Sefer Sh’mos, Parsha Sh’mos Perek 2, posukim 13 and 14.

In Parsha Sh’mos Perek 2, posuk 13, we learn that on the 2nd day, the day after Moshe kills the Mitzri who attacked a Jew, 2 Hebrew men (presumably those inevitable troublemakers Dasan and Aviram) fought and Moshe said to the one who was in the wrong;

“Why are you striking your neighbor?”

In posuk 14, the one man responds:

Who has made you a man, a prince, as judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Mitzri? Moshe was frightened and said: So the matter is known.

R’ Hirsch notes on posuk 14:

This comment reveals, even at this early stage of our history, a trait that characterizes us to this very day, a trait that is the root of all of our flaws — and our virtues — as a nation.

Six Hundred Thousand men cannot muster the courage to defend their children against non-Jewish henchmen, but to the authority of a fellow Jew — noone will submit. Even the most justified reprimand from a fellow Jew is regarded as a presumption, as a violation of the principle of the equality of all.

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 (restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint), 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. May we have the courage to prevent the eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May 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!!!

Gutten Shabbos Mevorchin!
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.