Six Hundred Thousand
The purpose of the exile in Egypt was so that the Jewish nation would depart with abundant possessions. These ‘possessions’ were our ability to understand the holy, hidden spark contained within materialism, which was the basis to all the wonderful creation that, in the future, would be built in the Land of Israel.
This was God’s consolation to our forefather Jacob when he was forced to descend to his son Joseph in Egypt: “God spoke to Israel in a night vision…Do not be afraid to go to Egypt, for it is there that I will make you into a great nation. I will go to Egypt with you, and I will also bring you back again.”
The Maharal of Prague (“G’vorot Hashem” chap.3) explains that in order for Israel to be fit to become a nation, they had to number 600,000, for without this, they could not come to full expression. Therefore, only after reaching this number did God remove Israel from Egypt and give them the Torah.
Sufferings Refine People of Faith
When a person experiences trials and tribulations, his energy is weakened. In order to survive, he attempts to strengthen himself in matters that are of greatest importance to him. He lacks the power to deal with all the extras; they loose their meaning and appeal. If his foundations are strong, the good side within him will emerge and be refined. But if insignificant and minor issues are most important to him – his sufferings will cause him to regress. Through their sufferings in Egypt, it became clear that Israel remained faithful to its beliefs and to life, and therefore, the more they were tormented, the stronger their faith was that one day they would be redeemed and return to the Land, and consequently, they continued to be very fruitful and multiply.
Existence of the World is Dependent on Israel’s Acceptance of Torah
At that moment in time there was tremendous suspense in all of the worlds, for the entire goal of Creation was in order that Israel would accept the Torah, and with its illuminating light, correct the world. However, at the time of Creation it was not yet possible to give the Torah to the world, for mankind still needed to accumulate experience in ‘derech eretz’ (desired mode of behavior), only after which Israel would be able to accept the Torah. On the other hand, without Torah, the world could not exist. Consequently, “God made a stipulation with the works of Creation, saying to them: If Israel accepts the Torah – you will exist, and if not – I will return you to void and nothingness” (Shabbat 88a). This is what is said in the Creation “It was evening and it was morning, the [well-known] sixth day,” to hint that, when that special day arrives – the sixth of the month of Sivan, 2,448 years after the world was created — if Israel does not accept the Torah, the world would return to void and nothingness.
The World Panics
The world was extremely terrified. The question hovering over all was – would Israel be able to receive the Torah on time? Would they reach the “dead-line,” numbering 600,000 in order to deserve being taken out of Egypt and receive the Torah? The whole thing progressed frighteningly slowly. It took a long time until mankind adapted the foundations of ‘derech eretz’, and thus 1,948 years passed from Creation till our forefather Abraham was born. As a result of our foremother Sarah’s infertility, another 100 entire years passed until our forefather Isaac was born, and as a result of the infertility of our foremother Rebecca, another 60 years passed until our forefather Jacob was born. Jacob also waited for a long time until he married at the age of 84. Thus, with only 210 years remaining till the day set for receiving the Torah, the family of Jacob numbered only 70 souls.
The Satan and all of his soldiers began to sense the smell of victory, for behold, the chances of Israel reaching the required number of people was progressively fading away. However, they still needed to be careful, lest Israel suddenly begin to increase in an unnatural way. For this purpose the ‘sitra achra’ (Satan), with all its force, hardened the yoke of slavery, so Israel would assimilate into Egypt and be neutralized from being fruitful and multiplying.
And lo and behold, precisely due to the sufferings and the forced labor, the gates of blessings opened, “The Israelites were fertile and prolific, and their population increased. They became so numerous that the land was filled with them,” “But the more [the Egyptians] oppressed them, the more [the Israelites] proliferated and spread.” Once again it became clear that, in the end, even the Satan, evil inclination, and sufferings help reveal the good. Israel succeeded in reaching 600,000, departed Egypt, and received the Torah – and there was peace and quiet in the world.
Ever since then, it is our duty to reveal the Torah in everyday life, thereby repairing the world.
The Land of Israel in the Torah Portion
Not too many people notice that in three out of the four ‘parshiyot’ in which we are commanded to lay tefillin, the Land of Israel appears. Two of these ‘parshiyot’ come from our Torah portion. In the ‘parsha’ of ‘Kadesh’ it is written: “There will come a time when God will bring you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Yebusites. He swore to your ancestors that He would give it to you – a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 13:11). And in the second ‘parsha’: “There will come a time when God will have brought you to the land of the Canaanites, which he promised you and your ancestors, and he will have given it to you” (Exodus 13:11).
A number of times I have been asked by women, some of whom are distinguished and highly respected, why are there so many rabbi’s who refuse to cooperate with the religious women’s organization ‘Kolech’ on issues that are in consensus, such as preventing violence against women in the religious and Haredi sectors. I answered that I was skeptical whether they really were seeking cooperation. They, of course, were willing to use the rabbi’s to further their own cause, but there would be no reciprocity. Their loyalty is given first and foremost to the liberal, Western culture; anytime a rabbi who presents a position which opposes the leftist-democratic viewpoint, they will join-in the choir of those who condemn him. This is not how true partners behave.
Recently, this has become undoubtedly clear. As a result of the call by a large number of rabbi’s not to rent or sell apartments to Arabs in Jewish neighborhoods, ‘Kolech’ published a harsh response.
Amongst other things, they wrote: “The fascist halachic ruling by fifty rabbi’s is not Torah, nor halacha, but rather a sin against the Torah of truth and an incitement against it. It is full of ‘chilul Hashem’ (desecration of God’s name) and harm to people. Rabbi’s who incite to fascism in the name of the Torah desecrate its holiness…they do not express the position of the halacha, and incite towards racism, in contradiction to the law of the State of Israel.”
In addition, they wrote a letter to the Attorney General demanding the rabbi’s be brought to trial for “criminal and disciplinary” sentencing. They continue: “Action against those who publish exclamations which incite to racism must be taken immediately, taking in to consideration the fact that the campaign against renting apartments to various populations on grounds of racism is quickly spreading throughout the country. Silence on behalf of law enforcement agencies in light of the remarks of tens of rabbi’s is likely to be viewed as handing over a “certificate of kashrut” to the continuation of incitement by means of extreme racist and dangerous illegal remarks. The need for quick and clear intervention of the law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with its various branches is obvious, in order to clarify that humiliating, discriminating, and seditious statements are outside of the framework of legitimate freedom of speech in Israel, and anyone who publishes such statements commits a crime, upon which he is subject to punishment…” They also turn to the Attorney General with the demand to caution the rabbi’s publicly, for they “breach their obligations as public servants and act in such a way which is not in line with their being rabbi’s serving the public, and consequently, they cannot continue in their official roles; legal and disciplinary procedures will be taken against them…” Signed: Ricky Shapira-Rosenberg, attorney representing the organization ‘Kolech’.
These are very harsh and insulting words, provoking disgust and anger. It is not pleasant to quote such remarks. Nevertheless, I believe it is beneficial for the readers to take notice. Clearly, rabbis cannot cooperate with those who call for them to be placed on trial for fulfilling their obligation to express the truth of the Torah according to their best judgment.
The women who write such slander prove that they are faithful representatives of “The New Israel Fund,” and that they interested in assimilating Judaism within leftist-Western culture. It’s permissible to argue and disagree, however, those who write such things prove that in the cultural struggle between Judaism and the leftist-Western values, they have chosen their side – and it’s not the Jewish one.
It is only proper that a group which pretends to represent the position of religious women should advance the cause of mothers who merited raising large families. But as representatives of the Western culture here in Israel, they belittle women who have chosen to rear large families, as if the only choice worthy of respect is the choice of having a career and striving for senior and respected jobs. How far they have distanced themselves from those righteous women in whose merit we were redeemed from Egypt, and in whose merit we are being redeemed today. Many of the problems we face today in Israel would be solved by themselves if only the proper honor was given to motherhood.