The story of Pesach should shake us profoundly. If Hashem had not liberated us from Mitzraim “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm … then we, our children and our children’s children would have remained enslaved to Paro in Egypt.”
What exactly does that mean?
I have heard that there are more editions of the Haggadah than any other sefer. We pay a huge amount of attention to Pesach. We refer to Yetzias Mitzraim, every day, many times a day in our tefillos.
How do we understand what happened in Mitzraim?
I believe that the best way is to realize that it is happening today.
I don’t know about you, but I feel the world is moving in on us, trying to strangle us. As Dovid Hamelech says, “All the nations surround me.” From every side, the threats upon us are increasing. The enemies are ubiquitous and numerous. People try to reason with them, but there is no arguing. They hate us, and the volume of hate is increasing. Tragically, the hate comes even from within our own people as well as from outside.
“There is nothing new under the sun.”
They want to hurt us, and (I am sorry to say) that is a euphemism. There is a growing admiration for Hitler ymak shemo. Our enemies are sorry that he did not succeed. All the troubles of the world are attributed to us. They would like to think that, without us, everything would be OK.
Let’s face it: on a certain level they are correct. Just as we are the blessing to the entire world when we are righteous, so too, if we are rebelling against the Torah – G-d forbid – we become a curse and a laughing stock; our national life becomes a desecration of G-d’s Name. If we do not act with fear of Heaven, then we become an embarrassment to Hashem and His Torah, G-d forbid.
The actual cause of anti-Semitism is when the Jews do not live up to the Torah. In the words of Rabbi Elchonen Wasserman zt”l, “When a Haman sets himself up against Israel, we must know that this Haman is nothing other than a Heaven-sent rod to smite us with.”
Why does a Haman come? Why are the haters sprouting like weeds?
Rabbi Wasserman continues [quoting from the Bais HaLevi], “Between light and darkness, there is a definite period of separation (called ‘twilight’). No one can alter it to make it less or more. In the same way, between Israel and the Nations, there exists a predetermined border line…. If the Jews drift too near, then the Nations thrust them back. So was the case in Egypt when the bondage increased. Jews began to mix with the Egyptians, thinking that by doing so things would become easier. What did G-d do? He turned their heart to hate His people….”
We are drifting dangerously close to the other nations and they are pushing back.
We must prepare a strategy for the unfolding drama which is occurring in our days.
Pesach is the blueprint for the end of our Exile. As the Chofetz Chaim says, “we can learn about the end of our exile from what happened at the end of our exile in Egypt, as it says, ‘As in the days of your leaving Egypt, I will show wonders [in the Final Redemption].’” (Micah 7:15)
Rabbi Wasserman continues: “It is written that the oppression of [the period before Moshiach] will exceed anything that happened to Israel from the day it became a nation. That is, it will outdo even the oppression at the time of the destruction of the Temple.
“The Gaon of Vilna wrote: ‘As the time of [Geula] approaches, so also will the Messianic pangs precede the redemption, and towards the approach of the Moshiach [they will] increase in severity from day to day … [as in Egypt] when Paro decreed ‘Let the work be heavier’ and [the Children of Israel were forced to make bricks] ….”
My friends, we must learn from Pesach. Just as in Ancient Egypt, where the host culture that tried to destroy the Children of Israel was itself destroyed, we can expect the same in our own days. Recently, an important bank collapsed in Silicon Valley. This bank represented the entire world of technology, which is an object of idolatry for our host culture. This is a portent.
Before Moshiach comes, an all-encompassing change will sweep the planet. The culture of Esav/Edom will collapse, and a totally different world will emerge like the rising sun. On that day, Hashem will be known as the Ruler of the World and His servant, Moshiach ben Dovid, will arise to lead His Nation.
“May our eyes behold Your return to Tzion in compassion!”
On that day, “Hashem will be King over all the world… Hashem will be One and His Name One.” (Aleinu)May we all survive the birth pangs of Moshiach and see the renewed world.
Dovid ha Melech: King David
Esav/Edom: all of Western culture, which emanates from Jacob’s brother Esau
Mitzraim: Ancient Egypt
Paro: Pharaoh, the king of Egypt
Sefer: Holy book
Ymak shemo: may his name be ground to dust (used in reference to our enemies)