Twice Enslaved, Twice Redeemed
הרב צבי דוידסון
My grandfather Yisrael Moshe, died after having Alzheimer's for four years. At the levaya my uncle poignantly said, we lost him twice, his body may have only been taken now, but the man we knew, who gave us our values and strengths, had left us already four years ago.
Rashi at the opening of this week's parsha, takes note of the fact that there's no break from last week's parsha in the writing of the Torah scroll, it's a parsha stuma, Rashi explains why, Yaacov Avinu has just died and the eyes and hearts of the Jewish nation were blocked (nistamu) by the enslavement in Mitzrayim.
But in truth the slavery didn't start then, but only when the last of the shevatim died, years later, so why does Rashi state the enslavement already began with Yaacov's passing?
Rav Wolbe writes that there are two types of being subject to another nation, there's being subject to a nation on the physical level, forced to do backbreaking labour against our will, and then there's being subject to a nation on a spiritual level, where we absorb their culture, use their dates, take vacation on their holidays and absorb their values.
So long as Yaacov was alive, Bnei Yisrael remained loyal to his values as our culture was still the culture of Torah, but with Yaacov's passing Bnei Yisrael sadly began to absorb the values of Mitzrayim.
That's what Rashi was referring to as the slavery beginning. True, the physical slavery only began years later, but that's secondary. The essence of Bnei Yisrael is our Torah values.
Baruch Hashem in our era we've begun to see the reverse trend, with the return of so many Jews to Eretz Yisrael, the physical state of the Jewish nation is being rebuilt.
It's our obligation to ensure the next essential stage takes place. The geula of the spiritual Torah values of the Jewish nation is that next stage and we do this by ensuring our values are aligned with the values of Hashem.
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