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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Would American Jews Have Told Moses to Get Lost?

The darkness of materialism is so great, who can fight against it?

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Photo Credit: Yori Yanover

Imagine if Moses were to come to America today with the mission of bringing the Jews to Israel. Chances are that his call would be met by deaf ears. Maybe he’d be stoned. Let’s face it – outside of a few weirdos, who would listen? He’d be interfering with their plans, their college degrees, their careers, their businesses, their golf games, and tennis lessons. Some would question his authority. Others would want to see proof that God had really sent him. Reform Jews, like Pharaoh, would say, “Who’s Hashem that I should listen to him?” Others would laugh at Moses’s biblical garments and staff. Probably most of them would tell him to get lost.

Not that it would ruffle Moses. After all, he had witnessed the very same scenario before, when he came to take the Jews out of Egypt. Back then, only a fifth of the Jews agreed to follow him to the Land of Israel. Four-fifths of the Diaspora-loving Jews died in the plague of darkness, as this week’s Torah portion reveals.

The Torah describes the plague as darkness that could be felt, darkness “mamash” (Shmot, 10:21). The darkness was so thick, you could literally reach out your hand and feel it. Rashi says that Hashem brought the plague of darkness upon Egypt “because there were Jews in that generation who were wicked and they did not want to come out of Egypt, and they died in the three days of darkness, in order that the Egyptians should not see their fall and say, ‘They too are smitten as we are’” (Shmot, 10:22). To avoid the great embarrassment that His people, the Children of Israel, did not want to go home to the Land of Israel, G-d brought a thick, tangible darkness over Egypt so that the goyim wouldn’t see this terrible disgrace.

Unfortunately this same dense darkness has enveloped Diaspora Jews today. It is a darkness so thick, you can actual feel it. Jews who have made aliyah, and who go back to America, or France, or England, to visit relatives, know what I mean. After speaking with fellow Jews there for a few minutes, you get the creepy feeling that they are totally out of touch with what’s really important. They think they know what’s going on, but they don’t know what’s going on at all. You can talk about aliyah until you are blue in the face, but they don’t understand a thing. Things that aren’t important at all, like the latest hit movie, their new car, their jobs, and the standing of the Knicks, are what really turns them on, not what’s going on in Israel. Whenever I have to go there, I get the feeling that I am in a gigantic Alzheimer’s ward, where the patients have forgotten who they are.

I’m not talking about the many devoted addicts of The Jewish Press, who click on every day to see what’s happening “b’Aretz.” I am talking about your average Haredi, Modern Orthodox, or assimilated Jew. For them, Washington D.C. is their nation’s capital. America is their homeland. Judaism is their religion, not their nationality. They are Americans first. Hearing the “Star Spangled Banner” at baseball games gives them goose bumps. Their children pledge allegiance to the American flag. Their forefathers are Betsy Ross and George Washington. If Moses himself came and tried to persuade them that the Land of Israel was their real home, they’d look at him like he was nuts.

That’s the meaning of darkness so dense you can feel it.

I am not blaming them. The darkness of materialism is so great, who can fight against it? And there is nobody there to teach them about true Judaism and the centrality of Eretz Yisrael to Torah. So instead of working to bring an end to the exile, they endeavor to lengthen it by strengthening their local Jewish communities. That was all well and good before God established the State of Israel, but now that we once again can live in our own Holy Land, strengthening Jewish life amongst the gentiles in American, France, Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa, is darkness “mamash,” just like back in the days of Egypt when 80% of the Jews didn’t want to leave and follow Moses to Eretz Yisrael.

Some things don’t seem to change.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


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4 Responses to “Would American Jews Have Told Moses to Get Lost?”

  1. Jane Samuelson Ellis says:

    Right on!

  2. Liad Bar-el says:

    Yep, it seems that anyone setting foot in America to carry the message of Aliyah from America to Israel will be nailed and burned to the cross much like the KKK probably did to Moses Brown. If Moses Brown were alive, he would have stood up and be heard in your David Duke’s article. May he be remembered only for the good like Moses Rabaenu.

    Lives would be a whole lot different if the American Jews would open up the Sefer Torah to find spiritual interests in place of opening their bank book to find material interests.

  3. Yehuda Cohen says:

    You’re right about this Tzvi. You’re carrying the same message to the Diaspora Jews as Moses Rabienu and without the snakes. You have something better to present, the truth of the Torah; yet, look at the responses you have received so far.

    BTW, Moses Brown is probably still stuck on the Dot Prompt in DOS 4.2 with 64K total memory and thinks that Windows are something you wash with vinegar, water and a lot of elbow grease. :-)

  4. Liad Bar-el says:

    The remedy for our present bitter exile is to repent completely, to keep G-d’s commandments, and not to do anything against the teachings of the Torah. (Zohar, Ki Thisa. Cf. Zohar, VaYera, Pinchas) We are commanded to pray and many Diaspora Jews (DJ) pray three times a day and say “Please see our affliction, fight our battle, quickly redeem us with a perfect redemption, sound the great Shofar for our freedom, restore our judges as at first, dwell in Jerusalem and cause the shoot of David to sprout, etc. Regardless, things seem to remain the same but actually the DJ lives are getting deeper into sin. The worship service takes the place of sacrifice. “We will make up for our bullocks with our lips” (Hosea 14:3) There is a law that if one offers a sacrifice to G-d outside the Temple, it is not a virtuous act but a sin. (Zevachim 106a; Yad, Maaseh Karbanoth 18:2) We are commanded by G-d to live in Israel but the DJ’s don’t; yet, still pray (sacrifice) in a place of filth (exile). The more one sins, the more one becomes insulated from HaShem and then one becomes so comfortable that there are no feelings of sin. The Talmud teaches that we must “place redemption right next to prayer.” (Berakhoth 4b, 9b) This means that the redemption depends primarily upon prayer. However, if one prays in sin so many times, there are no feelings to repent completely and his life will turn into a life of religious illusions as will the redemption in his eyes. The redemption is before the very eyes of the DJ’s today and yet they cannot see it.

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Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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