“DO NOT BE AFRAID, MY SERVANT YAAKOV!”
By Roy S. Neuberger
And we leave Mitzraim.
Golus ends, and our spiritual pilgrimage begins.
Our bondage to Paro is to be replaced – lehavdil! – by servitude to the Master of the Universe. But this is our choice! We have chosen to say,“na’ase v’nishmah.” We have pledged to subjugate ourselves, but the new subjugation is our eternal freedom. “Great is Torah, for it confers life upon its practitioners, both in this world and in the World to Come, as it is said …. ‘It is a tree of life to those who grasp it ….’” (Avos 6:7)
Before the Plagues began, Golus became more severe. As we read two weeks ago, Paro said, “Let the work be heavier upon the men ….” (Shemos 5:9) The people complained to Moshe and Moshe complained to Hashem.
We can view this as a remez for future exiles. As the saying goes, “the night is darkest before the dawn.” We left Mitzraim only after having descended to the forty-ninth degree of tumah. Or, in the words of Dovid Hamelech, “When the wicked bloom like grass and all the doers of iniquity blossom, it is to destroy them till eternity.” (Tehillim 92)
Before the Geulah Shelemah, Golus may become more difficult. It is written, “There is no exile more difficult than that of Yishmoel.” (Zohar, Shemos 17a), and “the kingdom of Yishmoel will be the last exile.” (Emes LeYaakov. Both quotes seen in Redemption Unfolding, by Rabbi A. A. Mandelbaum)
Increasingly, Am Yisroel and Medinas Yisroel stand isolated. A recent article in Yated Ne’eman discussed the future of Britain, currently one of Israel’s closest allies. The present weak government may be replaced by a Labor Party government, which would likely be intensely hostile to Israel. A poll indicated that, if the Labor Party takes power, forty percent of English Jews would consider making aliyah.
My friends, the world is darkening. The words of our godolim regarding Ikvos Hamoshiach should be studied. I am continually recalling the words of the Malbim (on Yechezkel Hanovi 32:17) which stand at the beginning of my book, 2020 Vision, which predict that Israel before Moshiach will be isolated in the world.
We have to remember that this is all a prelude to Geula. The guidance of Chazal at this time is to intensify our attachment to Hashem through the study of Torah and acts of chessed (see Sanhedrin 98b). We should not be lulled into thinking that this situation can be rectified through political action or improved public relations. But, if we take our responsibilities seriously, we can expect a time of unprecedented renewal, indeed a new world filled with Torah!
Then the sun will rise on a world eternally filled with kedusha! “Do not be afraid, My servant Yaakov, and do not be frightened, O Israel, for I shall save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity …. Yaakov shall return and be tranquil, and … none shall make him tremble…. Be not afraid, for I am with you!” (Haftaras Parshas Bo)
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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2019 by Roy S. Neuberger