Pesach is known as the Festival of Freedom. For Jews who live in the Diaspora, this means freeing themselves from living in foreign lands amidst the gentiles and coming home to the Land of the Jews, as it says in the beginning of the Haggadah, “This year we are here in the Diaspora; in the coming year in the Land of Israel. This year we are slaves; in the coming year free men.” If this message of the holiday is ignored, or given mere lips service in the empty refrain, “Next year in Jerusalem,” then the holiday is turned into an empty ritual.
“What the hell are you talking about?” the lovers of Diaspora shout back. “America is the land of freedom! We are as free as can be!” They don’t understand that they are slaves to the gentile cultures where they live, preferring to live in gentile lands, and not in the Land of the Jews. For Pesach to have meaning as the Festival of Freedom, Jews in the Diaspora need to free themselves from all of their false and gentile notions about Judaism, like converting Judaism into a religion like Christianity which negates the need for a national and political foundation and homeland.
Freedom means separating ourselves from alien cultures, with their hollow aspirations and ideals. By and large, the life-goal of Jews in the Diaspora is to achieve material well-being for themselves and their families, to enjoy life, and to take advantage of the gentile world around them. While religious Jews in the Diaspora perform whatever commandments they can, their life goal is exactly the same as secular Jews and as the gentiles – to make a good living so that their children can attend a top college and prepare themselves for making a good living in turn.
In effect, Diaspora Jews pass over the whole spirit and soul of the Torah, and the messages of the holiday of Passover, which is the attainment of true Jewish freedom through the establishment of a holy Torah Nation in the Land of Israel. Judaism in the Diaspora is thus reduced to the mere skeleton of Torah observance, the mere performance of precepts without its soul, for true Jewish aspirations are the yearnings for Jewish independence and Statehood, for Kingship, Prophecy, for the restoration of the Beit HaMikdash, and for serving Hashem in the fullest way possible – all of which can only be achieved in the Land of Israel. This is the mission of Israel which commenced with the Exodus from Egypt and which we are commanded to continue today.
For Jews in foreign countries, all of our deepest aspirations are passed over on Passover, and during the rest of the year as well. What matters most to Diaspora Jews is material existence – the very essence of Egyptian culture, from which we were freed at the time of the first Passover, and from which we are to free ourselves today. Yet Jews in the Diaspora prefer to either assimilate or strengthen Jewish life in the Diaspora, in the hope that the exile will last forever. To their way of thinking, Israel is for the Israelis. They want to remain Americans, and Frenchmen, and Germans, and loyal citizens of the queen. True, many Diaspora Jews sympathize with Israel, send money, and visit now and then, but the focus of their lives is getting by as best as they can while enjoying, the Egypts of today.
Sadly, the adhesion to Western culture and its vapid ideals is also prevalent in Israel, where, in the pursuit of material wellbeing, we have lost sight of our Nation’s real goals and Divine mission. However, in Israel, the pursuit of the material is also holy, in its building the physical vessel which will house the great spiritual light which will follow. In Israel, all aspects of life, the economic, military, political, scientific, industrial, and spiritual, are all intertwined with the building of the Jewish Nation in the Jewish Land, as we are commanded over and over again in the Torah. Israelis, however materialistic they may be, are helping to build the Jewish Nation in Israel, and not in gentile lands. For living in Israel, on whatever level of Torah observance, is a mitzvah in and of itself.
As our Sages inform us, at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, 80 percent of the Jews refused to leave. In response, Hashem slew them in the plague of darkness, so the gentiles wouldn’t see the terrible disgrace of a Chosen People turning their backs on the Chosen Land. In the Diaspora today, the darkness continues. Come before it is too late.