A: This is being composed on a very auspicious day – the 10th of Nisan. On this date which occurred on Shabbat of the year that we left Egypt, every Jewish family was commanded to take either a young goat or a young lamb in preparation for sacrificing it four days hence as a korban (sacrifices) of Pesach. The problem was that these animals were part of the Egyptians’ religious practice, as are the wandering cows in downtown New Delhi of today for the Hindus. This took an immense degree of courage, because the Jews could not have known know what the Egyptians’ reactions would be. To visualize this: picture an order to every US military unit in Afghanistan to gather books of the unholy Koran and explain to their Afghan friends it was being done in preparation for burning them in another four days. There would be mass hysteria, rioting and murder of countless American troops. But these things did not happen with the Egyptians, so add one more great miracle to the events in Egypt.
The other history changing event on the 10th of Nisan occurred 40 years later, when the Jewish nation entered Eretz Yisrael under the leadership of Yehoshua Bin Nun, to take on the 31 powerful Canaanite kings who controlled the Holy Land.
Today, on this 10th of Nisan, we are witnessing the unfolding of yet another episode in the history of our valiant people in Eretz Yisrael.
At this time of the year, “Jewish eyes are smiling” as we look back to our Egyptian experience of 3300 years ago and the great salvation that HaShem had brought forth for us. But on this 10th of Nisan, corresponding to the general calendar of April 2, the eyes of all enlightened nations are on Egypt, but for different reasons. The Moslem Brotherhood political party in Egypt, that now controls the two houses of the Egyptian Parliament, is going to have their man as the next president of that country. This group is among the most radical Islamists in the world, and they have an unabashed, open, straightforward Islamic agenda. Not only will they turn Egyptian society back 300 years, their end game is to uproot the Jewish State.
One should not forget that Egypt, thanks to the US, has the largest army in the Middle East, built on some of the most modern weapons of the US army.
So, permit me to share with you what I forsee unraveling in our part of the world, as HaShem prepares the greatest of miracle of all times for his people in Eretz Yisrael.
The military threats on the Jews in Eretz Yisrael will be overwhelming, to the degree that only those who feel the renewal of HaShem’s eternal covenant with His people in Eretz Yisrael, and those Jews who will do teshuva in acknowledgment that only with HaShem’s involvement can we be saved, will remain in the Land. The others, which include the 350,000 non-Jews who have come here from the former Soviet Union, the Arabs in this country, Christians, and Jews who have no sense of Torah or possess warped ideas of what HaShem wants from this generation, will leave!
Egypt will become Islamic, as will all the surrounding Arab countries. Egypt will be the first to open hostilities against the Jewish State and they will be totally destroyed, as were their ancient namesakes. I would not be surprised if the great Aswan Dam that holds back the billions of cubic meters of water in Lake Nasser, will be the instrument of HaShem (with the close co-operation of the holy soldiers of Tzahal) as were the waters of the Red Sea that crashed down on the Egyptian army of old.
When this will happen, the other Islamic nations will join with several Western Christian nations to avenge the destruction of their Egyptian brothers. But as they approach Eretz Yisrael war will break out among themselves on the background of their religious differences, and the Jewish State will be saved.
This, of course, is not my imagination. It is taken from the Book of Yechezkel chapter 32 and the Malbim’s commentary on verse 17.
B: As time marches on, we begin to find the answer to the age old question: What was HaShem’s intention by having the Jewish people undergo its slavery experience in Egypt.
As stated above, the great religious-military leader of Am Yisrael, Yehoshua Bin Nun, entered Eretz Yisrael with the Jewish nation on the 10th of Nisan. Tradition has it that Yehoshua composed the chapters of “Aleinu” that we recite three times daily, at the end of the prayer services. With the opening sentence of “Aleinu,” Yehoshua let his feelings be known as he stepped foot for the first time on the western Side of the Jordan River, or, according to some, when he completed the victory over the city of Yericho.
עלינו לשבח לאדון הכל לתת גדולה ליוצר בראשית שלא עשנו כגויי הארצות ולא שמנו כמשפחות האדמה שלא שם חלקנו כהם וגורלנו ככל המונם שהם משתחווים להבל וריק ומתפללים אל אל לא יושיע.
It is our duty to praise the Master of all, to acclaim the greatness of the One who forms all creation. For God did not make us like the nations of other lands, and did not make us like the other families of the earth. God did not place us in their situations, and our destiny is not like theirs.
For they bow before vanity and emptiness and pray to a god that cannot save
Yehoshua Bin Nun spoke of the unfathomable differences between the Jewish nation and all others.
There is, I believe, little difference between the “nations of other lands, and… the other families of the Earth”. Basically, the Germans are not better or worse than the ancient Egyptians. Nor are they different than the Crusaders, who decimated hundreds of Jewish communities as they swept across Europe on their journey to liberate the Holy Land. And all together they are similar to the Cambodians who murdered 2 million of their own people, or the Belgiuns who murdered 1.5 million Africans in the Belgium Congo, or the Tutsis and Hutsis, or the Turks who murdered 1.5 million Armenians, or Stalin who admitted to murdering 30 million Russians in the 1930s, or the Serbs or the Japanese or the Croats, or the Moslems who are credited to murdering hundreds of millions since their inception as the religion of peace, or even the early Americans as they cleared the frontier of Indians on their way to realizing their manifest destiny.
For the ancient Egyptians, Paro did not need any more than to raise the specter of fear that the Jews were not loyal citizens and would join with the enemies of Egypt in any impending war. He used the jealousy of the Egyptians as his platform for evil.
For the peoples of Europe, Christianity served as the platform for their evils. Hitler did not have to dig very deep into the German and Austrian souls to reveal the cesspool of anti-Semitism, since they already believed that we killed their god. And the unholy Koran with its descriptions of the Jewish people and the ranting of their Imams, serve as their platform of hate towards the Jewish nation to this day.
In total contrast to the “nations of other lands, and… the other families of the Earth, our slavery experience in Egypt, in addition to our unique souls as descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov, served as the emotional, intellectual and religious platform in preparing the Jewish nation to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai.
These differences will be expressed in the near future, when we shall witness a total breakdown of civil law and order in the Western World. What happened in Darfur, in Southern Sudan, will be just a preliminary to what will happen in Europe and in North and South America when the frustration and anger reach the critical boiling point.
What will bring about the wrath of the merciful God who created the world? The Gemara (Avoda Zara 2b) states that all people will be measured by the manner in which they treated the Jewish nation, and our return to the Holy Land.
C: As stated above, Yehoshua Bin Nun composed the “Aleinu” upon entering Eretz’ Yisrael, or after the victory over Yericho. He did not compose it while still in the desert, after receiving the leadership of the nation at the death of Moshe.
I suggest that Yehoshua waited to enter the land before saying, “… For God did not make us like the nations of other lands, and did not make us like the other families of the earth”, to teach us that we and our destiny are different than that of the gentile nations only when we are in the land given to us by the Creator.
But, when a Jew chooses to live among the other nations and drink from the cup of their civilizations, than his destiny will be like theirs.
SPECIAL PESACH EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK “WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT”
Picture a frum family living in any one of the great Torah centers in the galut; they could even be your next door neighbors!
The home of Reb Sender and Mrs. Rayza is impeccable; the result of the great time and energy, not to speak of the money, which the expeditious and skillful ba’alat ha’bayit (woman of the house) has devoted to it.
The sofas and arm chairs in the sitting room, which look so inviting if not for the thick plastic covers which insure that the upholstery retains its “new” look.
The five-meter-long dining room table is covered with the finest Irish linen table cloth. In the middle of the table stands the imposing sterling silver candle sticks handed down from mother to daughter for generations. The china is the finest Rosenthal, with each plate delicately rounded off with a band of gold. The silverware has been put away in favor of golden ware in honor of the great night.
On the table, under a hand embroidered silk cloth, lay the matzot. On the insistence of the two sons learning in the recently opened Yeshiva Taharas Ha’Torah in Las Vegas (in order to bring the voice of Torah even to the entrance of Gehennom) the matzot are from the first 18 minute batch, guaranteeing that no naughty piece of dough would be hiding in any of the rollers. The hand matzot were personally chosen by the Rebbe of the shteible where the family davens after leaving the central shul which was costing too much. The rebbe assured the boys that the matzot were bubble-free, with no overturned edges.
The wall-to-wall carpet is as deep as grows the grass in the beautiful garden. Above the table hangs the family’s pride and joy — a many faceted crystal chandelier, personally chosen by Rayza on the family’s last visit to Prague.
Reb Sender is wearing his new bekeshe, the one with the swirls of blue, with a gold-buckled gartel. Rayza has just said the shehechiyanu blessing over the $3000 dress imported from Paris. The boys are handsome in their wide brimmed black hats and the two girls will make beautiful kallahs when the time comes, dressed in their very expensive dresses.
The seder goes Beitter than expected. Words of Torah, beginning with an invitation to the hungry to join with them in the meal, despite the fact that there is not a needy person within 50 miles. A lively discussion develops on the characters of the “four sons.” The afikomen is “stolen” by the youngest daughter who, for its return, has succeeded in extorting from abba a vacation in Hawaii.
Songs of thanks to Hashem for freeing the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt are recited. For it is a mitzva on this night for each person to consider himself as if he and she where slaves in Mitzrayim.
Birkat hamazon is said, as is the second part of Hallel. Chad Gadya puts the final touch on the mitzvot of the night. Now, just as Hashem destroys the “Angel of Death” in the song, father jumps up — and gathering the family in a circle they all break out in a frenzy of song — L’shana ha’ba’a Be’Yerushalayim — “next year in Jerusalem.” Again and again around the table L’shana ha’ba’a Be’Yerushalayim is sounded. Louder and louder until their song merges with the same melody resounding from the neighbors’ homes, cutting a path into the highest realms of heaven.
Suddenly Mama collapses into a chair crying hysterically. The singing stops. Father runs over and asks why is she crying just now at the apex of the beautiful sacred night?
“What do you mean next year in Yerushalayim? What about the table, the chandelier, the deep carpet, the Rosenthal China! How can we leave all this?”
Father approaches Mama. And taking her hand while gently dabbing her tears away, in a voice full of compassion says to his beloved wife, “Darling, don’t cry, IT’S ONLY A SONG!”
Ten thousand kilometers to the east, in Eretz Yisrael, lives Reb Sender’s brother Kalman. Kalman had moved to Eretz Yisrael many years ago, and was blessed with a beautiful family and an adequate apartment. His son, Yossi, will not be home for the Seder night since he is doing his army service within the Hesder yeshiva system.
But the parents are not overly worried, because Yossi himself told them that he is in a safe place in the north, and that next year they will all be together for the seder.
At 12 noon, on the 14th of Nisan, erev Pessach, Yossi and three other soldiers from the same yeshiva were called to the company commander’s room, where he informed them that they have been chosen to fill an assignment that evening, on the Seder night. They were to cross the border into Hizballah territory in Southern Lebanon and man the out-post bunker on hill 432.
Yossi knew the hill well; he had been there several times in the past year. It was sarcastically called a “bunker,” but in reality it was nothing more than a fox hole large enough for four soldiers. Their assignment was to track terrorist movements and destroy them on contact. It was tolerable except when it rained, which caused the bottom of the hole to be soggy and muddy. But today the four hoped that it would rain, even though chances were small since it was late in the season. On the 14th of every Hebrew month the moon is full, which presents a greater danger when crossing into enemy territory; so rain would be a mixed blessing.
At 5 PM, they were given the necessary arms and ammunition. In addition, the army rabbinate had provided them with 4 plastic containers each holding 3 matzot and all the ingredients necessary for a seder, as well as 4 plastic bottles of wine, sufficient for 4 cups, and of course a Haggada.
At 6 PM they waited at the fence for the electricity to be turned off, in order to cross into hostile territory. Yossi held in his hand a map of the minefield they would have to cross. “It was so strange,” Yossi thought, “this is the area assigned to the tribe of Naftali, and we have to enter it crawling on our stomachs.”
At 6:15 PM the small aperture in the gate opened and they passed through. As they had hoped, it was raining and the thick fog was to their advantage.
At that moment, ten thousand kilometers to the west, it was 12 noon and Yossi’s two cousins in New York were just entering the mikva to prepare for the Pessach holiday.
The 4 soldiers reached hill 432 after walking double -time for 5 kilometers. They removed the camouflage and settled in, pulled the grassy cover over them.
Each soldier was assigned a direction. Talking was forbidden. If any murderers were sighted, a light tap on the shoulder would bring them all to the proper direction. After settling in, they prayed ma’ariv and began the seder. In was finished within a half hour, and not unexpectedly, the four cups of “wine” had no detrimental effect on their senses.
At 6 PM in NY, the family returned from shul to begin their seder. It was then 12 midnight in Eretz Yisrael and the four soldiers were waging a heroic battle against boredom and sleep. The minutes crawled by and at the first approach of light they exited their outpost and returned through the minefield and electric fence to the base. After reporting to the officer in charge, the four entered their tent, and collapsed on their cots without removing clothing or shoes, because in an hour they would have to begin the shacharit service.
In conclusion: As the holiday of Pesach approaches, and we recall in a more active way the redemption of the Jewish nation from the galut of Egypt, I sincerely wish all a chag kasher v’samayach. And may we all meet together very soon in Eretz Yisrael, when HaShem will close the door on our religious, physical and mental slavery in the 2000 years in galut.
About the Author: Rabbi Nachman Kahana the spiritual leader of Hazon Yichezkeil a member synagogue of Young Israel (Yisrael Hatzair) in the Old City of Jerusalem. He has founded the Institute for Talmudic Commentaries (המכון להסברת מפרשי התלמוד) through which he has published “Mei Menuchot” (מי מנוחות - Restful Waters) a Hebrew elucidation of the Tosafot commentary on several tractates of the Talmud. He is the authror "With All Your Might" of a new series of Shabbat drashot .
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