Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Nissan 5761 - April 4, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Our Own Exodus from Our Own Egypt

The sifrei mussar say that the kernel of golus Mitzrayim is found in every generation, and we always have to uproot it. Spiritually and culturally the same problems come up generation after generation, and we must work to overcome them.

Michtav MeEliahu (II, "Hachonos Legolus Mitzrayim," p. 233) explains that a fundamental and essential part of the golus Mitzrayim was the personal capitulation of the people in the face of the cultural power of the Egyptian rulers. "The Egyptians were very proud of their wisdom and buildings and magic and magicians (chartumim). They were extremely arrogant and in their heart they used to look down at every other nation. This was the hardest part of the exile in Mitzrayim. Even after all their preparations [Editor: discussed by HaRav Dessler earlier in that essay], the Jews were degraded down to the 49 gates of tumah. Why did the Egyptians manage to do so much damage to them? Because the suffering in exile under an arrogant and demeaning hand (yad ga'avoh umashpil) causes a self- negation and wreaks terrible damage. It is because of this that we have several mitzvos to remember yetzias Mitzrayim, including a mitzva, "Remember the day you went out of Mitzrayim . . . " -- so that we should know the true value of going out of such a terrible darkness. . . .

"How many strange and counterfeit values are common in our own streets. Those who subscribe to those values cause a tremendous degradation and negation of the true values. And how much they try to influence us! A person should look deep into himself and see how much these false values have penetrated his heart -- this is his own golus Mitzrayim!

"Our generation is the generation leading to Moshiach, the generation of increased arrogance (chutzpah yasgei), the generation in which are present the souls of the eirev rav (who were geirim in Mitzrayim). Even matan Torah (in which there was a state of ponim beponim, meaning an absolute clarity) did not help the eirev rav, and even then they retained their previous impressions. And again we are in a generation that is under their influence. What preparations do we make to strengthen ourselves, to strain to escape this terrible situation with clean hearts?"

In past years, as the forces of haskalah and Zionism became stronger and stronger and, seemingly inexorably, conquered institution after institution -- how hard it was to stand aside and maintain a different position! Even the yetzer hora (in outer trappings of kedusha) suggested that it was better to cooperate with the prevailing powers, to ride the wave and make our peace with those enjoying success and to find some way to survive as best we could. Many succumbed and went along, negating what they knew in their hearts to be the truth in the face of the overwhelming social and cultural domination of the other side.

But our perspective now shows that it was not those who trumpeted Realpolitik and "flexibility" who were successful, but those who followed the gedolei Yisroel in preserving the pure, untainted truth of Torah.

With much effort, self-sacrifice and siyata deShmaya, we have managed to create enclaves -- both physical in the form of neighborhoods, and social and cultural in the form of community institutions and publications such as Yated Ne'eman -- in which the unbowed kernel of Torah shines brightly. But we must remain vigilant to guard against incursions in our own area, and alert to opportunities for expanding it. Thus, in the words of Michtav MeEliahu, we "prepare our effort from below to merit a visible yetzias Mitzrayim even in our own generation, so that Hashem will hasten to us His Geula sheleimoh soon, in our days."

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.