Rabbi Yair Spitz
Former shaliach as Principal of Yeshivat Bnei Akiva Ohr Haim, Toronto
A Zionist Paradigm Shift
Sometimes, when reading the Parsha, a political message jumps right out at you. At the end of Parashat Shemot, Moshe relays the people’s complaint to Hashem and accuses Him – “why have you done evil to this people?” i.e. from the time I came to Pharaoh… he did evil… you did not rescue your people!”
Hashem’s answer at the beginning of Parashat VaYera has an interesting effect. Moshe who, up to this point, was reluctant has no more doubts, whereas the Jewish People who, originally, had no problem believing in Moshe’s mission suddenly “did not heed Moshe because of… hard work.” What changed?
The first time Hashem explains Moshe’s mission, he states the following as the reason for the redemption: “I have seen the affliction of my people… I shall rescue them… bring them to a good land…” (Shmot 3:7) But the second time, after Moshe complains about worsening conditions, Hashem clarifies, adding an important component: “I established my covenant with them (the Avot) to give them the land of Canaan… and also I heard the groan of Israel…”. Meaning, originally everyone was led to believe that the Redemption was just about salvation from hardship. That’s why the people listened so easily at first.
Now, when Hashem reveals the real goal of the Redemption – the fulfillment of a divine destiny of The Jewish People in The Land of Israel – they lose their wind, as it was too lofty a goal to grasp due to their hardships.
The message is this:
- Redemption is a mixture of both yearning for safety and a deeper call to a divine destiny
- The former (plight) will capture people’s attention and imagination more so than the latter (destiny)
- Exclusively physical salvation will “run out”, forcing an emergence of a deeper understanding of Redemption