God, Who knows His people’s mind, knew, as well, that the Jews would always prefer the non-Jewish life of the exile, whose abominable depravity is so sweet to the sinner among us. As King Solomon said, “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Prov. 9:17). God, therefore, decreed that Israel would never find safety and security in the exile. Regarding Noach, Bereshit Rabbah, 33:6, teaches:
“He sent out the dove…. It could find no place to rest its feet” (Gen. 8:8-9): Yehuda bar Nachman said in the name of R. Shimon, “Had it found a place to rest, it would not have returned. Just so, it says, ‘She dwells among the nations; she finds no rest’ (Lam. 1:3); and, ‘Among those nations you shall have no repose; there shall be no rest for the soles of your foot’ (Deut. 28:65). If Israel found rest in the exile, they would not return.”
Not in vain did our sages (Mechilta, Bo, 1) compare the exile to a cemetery, for if Israel refuse to dwell in Eretz Yisrael, if they spurn it for the depravity of the exile, they have no future, but suffering, tragedy and annihilation. As the Prophet Ezekiel said (20:32-34): “That which comes into your mind shall not be at all, your saying, ‘We will be like the nations, to serve wood and stone.’ As I live, says the Lord God, with a mighty hand, an outstretched arm and with fury poured out, will I be King over you. I will remove you from the nations and gather you in from the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, an outstretched arm and with fury poured out.”
In saying, “to serve wood and stone,” Ezekiel did not mean that Israel actually wished to worship idols. His point was really in line with Onkelos’s translation, quoted above, of the verse, “There you will serve other gods, wood and stone, unknown to you and your fathers” (Deut. 28:64): “There you will serve nations that worship idols.” That is, Israel would not actually worship idols, but would serve the non-Jews who worship idols. This bondage to these nations constitutes a terrible Chillul Hashem, for it thereby appears as if their idols have vanquished God, Heaven forbid. Likewise, Yonatan rendered the same verse, “You will pay taxes to idol worshippers.” In other words, instead of the nations being subjugated to Israel in Eretz Yisrael with taxes and servitude, Israel will be subject to them the same way. Jeremiah says (5:19), “Just as you have forsaken Me and served strange gods in your land, so shall you serve strangers in a land that is not yours.”
Today’s alien culture has replaced idolatry, one more reason God promised not to let Israel dwell among the nations. God said, “With fury poured out will I be King over you” (Ezek. 20:33), and He said He would remove Israel from the exile by force – at least those who survive the suffering there and are not killed by God like the Jews who, despising Eretz Yisrael, preferred to remain in Egypt. (It is known that the last redemption will be like the first.)
Woe to the stubborn children who think it possible to flee God and Eretz Yisrael, and who think that despite their having lost their homeland, Eretz Yisrael, they will be able to settle in the exile in ease. Of them it says, “I will scatter them among the nations, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them” (Jer. 9:15).
God have mercy!