Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

Back to Shiurim List

Nationalism and Spirit

By: Rav Moshe Ganz

The Midrash states that the Jewish People were redeemed from Egypt in the  merit of four items: They did not change their names, clothes, language, nor  did they divulge their secrets. These four items do not signify deep  concepts. Rather, they are external devices, through which the social  framework of the people was preserved. As the Midrash comments on the verse  that "we were there as a nation"- this indicates that we were recognizable  (metzuyanim). It was possible to identify a Jew.

The spiritual qualities of the Jewish People- promoting monotheism, and  performing justice- are not mentioned in the Midrash. They seemingly  evaporated due to the harsh exile. Indeed, Chazal depicted our status in  Egypt as idol-worshippers (halalu ovdei avoda zara vehalalu ovdei avoda  zara).

Nevertheless, the adherence to the social framework of the Jewish People  enabled the redemption. In fact, it was designed to ensure that there was  WHAT to redeem. The exodus from Egypt is referred to in the Torah as taking  a nation from out of another nation. Chazal portray this as removing an  embryo from a cow. Provided that the embryo is a complete unit, it will not  crumble. Thus, it can be extricated from the mother cow.

On the other hand, we recall the words of Chazal that the Jewish People in  Egypt had sunk to the 49th level of impurity. Were we to fall to the 50th  level, nothing would remain to be redeemed. For the framework that is  necessary to form a nation- language, names, clothing and proper social  interaction- are merely external signs designed to enable us to promote  monotheism and the G-dly way of living. When the internal content  disappears, the external framework maintains the national unity for a period  of time.

This will not continue indefinitely. Without a clear vision of internal  qualities and true national goals, the nation is liable to change the  external signs of dress, language and names. This assists one to adapt to a  foreign, and at times, hostile, environment. Even feelings of brotherhood  and unity amongst the nation are subject to deterioration. The point may be  reached where there is nothing left to redeem.

If only the above was merely a sermon for Shabbat. Unfortunately, it is  materializing in front of our very own eyes. The Zionist movement was  predicated upon a strong national sentiment, with a weak and superficial  recognition of the true content of the Jewish Nation. This movement led to  the return of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel, with the grace of  Hashem led to the founding of the State, built an army and ingathered the  exiles. Yet, with the passage of time, this lack of truly understanding the  goals and messages of the Jewish People caused the weakening of national  identity, the crushing of feelings of responsibility for fellow Jews  (arevut), and willingness to sacrifice and volunteer for the community has  suffered. The survival of the nation is- G-d forbid-in danger.

Those who are dedicated to Torah and recognize the true message of the  Jewish People must raise the flag of true Jewish nationalism (this  especially applies to our students serving in the IDF). Concerning Torah  scholars, our rabbis teach us that they are truly the builders of the  nation. Let us be strong and courageous in our mission!


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Vaera
Uploaded: 1/24/2006 12:22:36 PM