Saturday, June 9

Be'ha'alotecha and non-religious Zionism

Shavua Tov.
Yesterday's / this morning's parasha was בהעלותך,  in which, among other things, Moshe asks for a break from dealing with this difficult nation.
At Seudat Shabbat today with the  Seemans, Dani gave a nice devar Torah from Rav Samet.  Part of it gave me some insight into our most curious reality.

The question is: why could  Moshe handle Am Yisrael complaining and asking for food 1year earlier, (shortly after Yetziat Mitzrayim), but not at this time?    Why did he need 70 representatives from the nation to help him lead, and why is that story intertwined within the story of the quails?

Answer:  Immediately after yetziat mitzrayim, Am Yisrael had just run out of food, and were legitimately hungry for food.  Also, they were newly released slaves.  Moshe could relate to their lack of faith.   We cannot imagine what it would be like to be suddenly independent after 210 (86?) years of slave labor, abuse, attempted genocide, etc.  Moshe knew where they were coming from, and could relate to them and sympathize.
But by this point in the Torah, Moshe has been on a great spiritual journey.  He is a new place, closer to Hashem, more appreciative of Hashem's miracles.  He is seeing the positive in everything.  And Bnei Yisrael are still "newly released slaves".  They haven't made as much progress as Moshe.  They are still seeing the negative.  They are still wrapped up in survival, food, etc.  They aren't up to expecting a miraculous entrance to Eretz Yisrael (קומה ה' ויפוצו אויביך וינוסו משנאיך מפניך).  They can't relate to Moshe and he can't relate to them.
Hashem, being somewhat more intelligent than the rest of us, says that the answer lies in having leaders who are part of the  nation, part of the "amcha".   Not the nesi'im.  Just representatives that the people choose.  From these people, Am Yisrael can learn to see Gd's goodness.  
And the geula won't be instant, it will  be slow, with wars and philistine terror, and plenty of  infighting among Jews.  Because instant doesn't work.  קמעא קמעא...

200 years ago, the GRA sent his talmidim to settle Eretz Yisrael.  And they did.  They lay down roots whose fruit benefit us today.  They planted, they wrote books about mitzvot ha'teluyot ba'aretz, they settled the land.  But they did not bring everyone else home.
130 years ago, leaders appeared from other parts of Am Yisrael.   After 1800 years of  galut, many Jews were intermarried, enlightened, assimilated, secular, communist, socialist.  And Zionism had to come from within those groups too, in order to bring all Jews back to Eretz Yisrael, and to bring Eretz Yisrael back to Am Yisrael.  Together with the Zionist leaders from varied backgrounds, the leaders of the Mizrahi movement helped establish a Jewish sovereign State in Eretz Yisrael in which every Jew has the right to instant citizenship; the Hebrew date is law; shuls , religious schools and mikvaot are built by the government; new cities are given their old Tanachi names; and slowly but surely, famous "secular" actors, authors and singers are returning to their (our) roots.  

This could not have happened had only religious Jews established a State.  The Jews who were not "there" religiously would not have come.  Now they are here, and BH, for the most part, getting closer to Gd every day.  And if there are steps backwards occasionally, we need only read Sefer Shoftim carefully to realize that we are  in much better shape than they were then.   
It has to be gradual, the process of taking millions of people - with two millenia of experiences, of cultural influences, of difficult relationships with Gd and fellow Jews -  and build from them a perfect Torah nation.  We have to overcome our "survival instinct" that causes so many Jews to break laws, use corrupt means to get what they "need"  or simply avoid paying  taxes.  We need to have "shiv'im zekeinim", representatives from each group, who can feel their constituents' pain and lovingly bring them back to Torah.

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