BS”D Parashat Mishpatim 5776

Rabbi Nachman Kahana

Open Your Eyes – the Angels are working overtime!

In last week’s parsha, Rashi states that when Aharon met Moshe after tens of years of separation, Moshe introduced his wife Tzippora and his two sons. Aharon’s reaction was one of grief and hurt.

The Jewish people now in Egypt are being crushed under the yoke of slavery; why bring three more Jews into this cruel situation!?

From his reaction, it would appear that Aharon was denying or at least doubting the forthcoming exodus, because if indeed the Jews were to be leaving even within a year’s time (which occurred), why did Aharon object to three more Jews taking part in the great experience?

The answer lies in our parsha.

The initial set of Halachot which was revealed to the nation after the incredible, unprecedented events at Mount Sinai, relates to ‘eved Ivri’ – a Jew or Jewess who is obligated to work for another Jew for various reasons, usually for a period of 6 years.

At the end of six years of work or at the advent of the Yovel (Jubille year), whichever comes first, the Jewish bondsman has the option to go free or to remain a bondsman until the following Jubilee year.

If he chooses to remain a bondsman, the master must bring him to the bet din where they pierce his ear with an awl while standing by the doorway, as the Torah states (Shemot 21,6):

והגישו אדניו אל האלהים והגישו אל הדלת או אל המזוזה ורצע אדניו את אזנו במרצע ועבדו לעלם

then his master shall bring him unto God, and shall bring him to the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.

The Gemara (Kedushin 22b) explains why the ear was chosen to be pierced rather than any other organ:

אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא: אזן ששמעה קולי על הר סיני בשעה שאמרתי כי לי בני ישראל עבדים ולא עבדים לעבדים, והלך זה וקנה אדון לעצמו ירצע.

The Holy One Blessed He declared: The ear that heard Me say at Mount Sinai, ‘The Children of Israel are MY servants and may not be the servants of servants (servants of another human being, whether a Jew or a gentile), and this man voluntarily became a servant to another man – shall be pierced.

Hashem declared the Jewish nation to be free and independent of other human beings, while serving only Hashem.

Aharon was telling Moshe that Tzippora and her two sons are the only Jews in the world who are free and independent. To bring them into a situation where they lose that freedom, even for a short time, is a sin – a chillul Hashem. Therefore, send them back to Midian and they will return to you after we attain our freedom.

A Jew in the galut is subordinate to gentile leaders and their laws. They are taxed to support many programs which are not beneficial for Jews. They are drafted into the armies of gentile nations and die while fighting their wars. Hashem declared us to be His and only His servants, which can be performed only when we are in our own Land, and under a Jewish government.

Slaves to Personal Delusion

Within the Halachot regarding an eved Ivri, the master-employer has the right to couple off the Jewish bondsman with a gentile slave-woman. The children to be born to them would have the halachic status of the mother – they will be gentile slaves of the master. The connection between the child and the Jewish bondsman who begot him, would be biological but not halachic – the man is a Jew, the child is a gentile slave, like his mother.

As stated above, at the end of six years of work or when the Yovel (Jubille year) arrives, the Jewish bondsman has the option to go free or to remain a bondsman until the following Jubilee year.

If he chooses to be a slave he must declare before the bet din, as follows:

ואם אמר יאמר העבד אהבתי את אדני את אשתי ואת בני לא אצא חפשי: והגישו אדניו אל האלהים והגישו אל הדלת או אל המזוזה ורצע אדניו את אזנו במרצע ועבדו לעלם

‘… I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his bondsman for life (until the next jubilee year).

The bondman’s declaration before the bet din (court) indicates that he is delusionary; living in his world of fantasy and hallucinations. At the time of his declaration his “master” is no longer such; the gentile woman he lived with was never his wife, and the offspring she gave birth to with the bondsman were never his children.

There are two broadly accepted premises within wide circles in the galut: that the State of Israel is in great danger, while life in the United States or other places in the galut is secure.

This is a bubble of delusionary virtual reality that relegates its adherents to being slaves to their personal instincts. We, in Eretz Yisrael are threatened, but are not in mortal danger. The Jews in the galut are in mortal danger.

We are the only nation in the world explicitly threatened with nuclear weapons, and there is little solace in the non-nuclear threats.

But in reality, we are in the safest place on the planet.

The Torah (Melachim 2 chap. 6) relates a story involving Elisha, the protégé of Eliyahu Ha’Navi.

The King of Aram learned that Elisha was in the town of Dotan in northern Shomron; he sent a large military contingent to surround the town with orders to capture Elisha.

The force arrived there at night and waited. In the early morning, Gaichazi, the student of Elisha, went outside and saw that the enemy had completely besieged the town. In desperation, he called out to Elisha, who calmed the young man by saying:

ויאמר אל תירא כי רבים אשר אתנו מאשר אותם:

Do not fear, for there are more on our side than there are on theirs

(ויתפלל אלישע ויאמר ה’ פקח נא את עיניו ויראה ויפקח ה’ את עיני הנער וירא והנה ההר מלא סוסים ורכב אש סביבת אלישע

Elisha prayed to Hashem saying, “Lord, open his eyes (of Gaichazi) so he can see (the surrounding spiritual world)” And Hashem opened his eyes, and he saw the mountain filled with horses and chariots of fire around Elisha

Surrounding Eretz Yisrael are myriads of God’s angels protecting the righteous of the land.

At this point, you, dear reader, might be shrugging your shoulders in skepticism and thinking that what Hashem performed for a great tzaddik like Elisha is not necessarily what Hashem does for our lowly generation. Wrong!

Whoever thinks that the establishment of the State of Israel, the victories in our impossible wars, and the quality of life we enjoy today are not the result of God’s personal intervention, is simply not thinking.

The angels are being overworked in their defense of the Holy Land. After every war, we hear tales of soldiers who swore that angels were driving them on to victory.

By every human standard, the State of Israel should have died in “childbirth” and should certainly not have attained the mature age of 67 (and most certainly not have the most stable currency in the world). We are now in the midst of Hashem’s fulfillment of His promise that He will return His children to Eretz Yisrael.

And what of the reality in the galut, where our fellow Jews view their situation with serenity?

The Jews who cling to the galut are similar to the eved Ivri who declares:

‘… I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free’.

Their masters are the governments of the lands they live in. Their wives are their domestic comforts; their homes, cars, boats, bungalows, TVs and finished basement replete with full size billiards table. Their children are the contributions they make to their gentile societies. Their implied declaration is that they do not want to go free, it is their admission that they pick and choose the mitzvot which serve them, and will serve Hashem only on their terms.

A bit of history:

Upon the establishment of the State of Israel, the gates of the land were thrown open, with the first law to be passed being the Law of Return.

Hashem granted the dispersed of Am Yisrael a period of time to return home, in accordance with Israel’s capacity to absorb the returnees. In its first years, Israel absorbed over one million desperate Jews from Europe and Arab and Moslem lands – a feat unparalleled in all history. And all this in the midst of wars.

In these short years, the Land has embraced its returning children so that today the majority of Jews in the world have arrived home. This, in itself, proves that our generation is the greatest one since the generation that entered the land with Yehoshua bin Nun.

As modern history evolves, we see an increase in the “discomfort level” of Jews in foreign lands.

Today, it is uncomfortable to be a Jew in Europe, and in many other places in the world. We are all aware that latent anti-Semitism is as close as the Gentile at the next work desk in your office, or behind the gentle-Gentile smile on your neighborhood green grocer’s face…

The reality of life has taught us that the fabric of society is thin, that it takes little to turn neighbor against neighbor and friend into foe.

But this thought does not really disturb our brothers and sisters in the galut; because deep in the recesses of the Jewish galut mind is the knowledge that if, God forbid, the situation becomes intolerable, Israel will always be there to take them in. The house in places like the Five Towns and Lakewood will always be there to be sold to finance their return to Israel, if need be. This, too, is virtual reality.

Rambam writes in the Laws of Teshuva that Hashem waits a period of time for the sinner to return; but if he does not, Hashem creates a situation in his life that makes doing teshuva a very difficult – if not impossible – alternative.

Hashem has given the Jews in the galut a limited window of opportunity to return to Eretz Yisrael. However, with the passing of time, it will become increasingly difficult to do so, until that tragic moment when Hashem will say AD KAN (no more!) and the gates will be closed.

We pray in the chapter preceding the morning “Shema”

ותוליכנו קוממיות לארצנו

Lead me upright to our land

Meaning: Permit me to return home, not as a poor refugee with only the shirt on my back (as was the case after World War Two), but upright in body and spirit, with self-pride and confidence.

There is still time for those who wish to assure their family’s spiritual and physical future – but who knows for how long!

Shabbat Shalom,

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5776/2016 Nachman Kahana