This week’s Torah portion describes events encompassing tremendous contrasts: fear and triumph, peace and war. After the Children of Israel miraculously break free of Egyptian slavery, we fall into contention with our redeemer, Moses, and are immediately confronted with our nemesis, Amalek.
What is wrong with us! Why don’t we get the “program?”
And now, after some three thousand years, have we learned from our mistakes?
Freedom, the “kiss of Esav,” is perhaps our greatest challenge. When my wife and I visited Germany, we were told how Jews over the centuries had passed every test – even on pain of death, G-d forbid! – until they were confronted by the test of freedom. When the ghetto doors were opened and non-Jews let us join their world, that test proved the most difficult!
“All over Europe …. there was a breakdown. Of course there were observant Jews too, but all over, Am Yisroel was defecting from the Torah .… They used to make parades … with big signs, ‘We declare war on the [rabbis and observant Jews.]’ … Rav Elchonen Wasserman said, ‘You are declaring war on Hashem? So Hashem will declare war on you!’” (Rabbi Avigdor Miller on Parshas Vaeira)
We need to review these lessons because “l’dor v’dor … in every generation” they recur, and we need to understand what is happening today. As it says, “As in the days of your exodus from the Land of Egypt, I will show him wonders.” (Michah 7:15) The Chofetz Chaim tells us this refers to the Final Redemption.
Daf Yomi learners recently studied the Gemora which teaches that one must mention the Redemption from Egypt “all the days of your life.” (Berachos 12b)
“Behold, days are coming … when people will no longer say, ‘As Hashem lives, Who brought the Children of Israel up from the Land of Egypt,’ but rather ‘As Hashem lives, who brought up and brought back the offspring of the House of Israel from the Land of the north and from all the lands wherein he had dispersed them.” (Jeremiah 23:7ff) [This does] not [mean] that [the mention of] the Exodus from Egypt will be uprooted from its place, but rather that [the mention of the Final Redemption] will be primary.” (ibid)
The coming Redemption will clearly be so massive that almost nothing since Creation will be of greater magnitude. I will remind readers of the explanation I heard concerning the Passover Seder. When we remove ten drops of wine from the cup for each of the Ten Plagues, there is no appreciable difference in the volume of the cup from which we remove the drops.
The amount remaining compared to the amount removed is comparable to the scale of the Final Redemption as compared to the scale of the Redemption from Egypt!
We are witnessing today the preparation for a Redemption that will change the face of the earth. If we are confronting difficult challenges, we should know that each of these is necessary to prepare us for an era of unending sanctity, purity and unity with Hashem! If we keep this in mind, the very greatness of that day will give us the strength to endure until we see it!
The full cup