DVAR TORAH -
History verifies a prolonged Hebrew sojourn in Egypt during the
twelfth dynasty of Egyptian rule, with the Hebrews retaining a measure
of independence until the Eighteenth Dynasty in 1550 B.C.E., when the last Semitic garrisons were destroyed. Judging from contemporary documents, with their demotion, Jews who escaped slaughter were enslaved or permitted to remain as serfs. By 1300 B.C.E., the stage was set religiously and culturally for the emergence of a heroic figure such as Moshe. At the time, even after intimate political and cultural contact between Egypt and Cannan for seven centuries, there still were hundreds of thousands of Jews living as slaves and serfs.
This Parsha finds our forefathers as slaves, doing hard work.
Pharaoh, king of Egypt, exercises his dictatorial powers in true
fashion. Harsh, unkind, and uncompromising.
It is at this crucial point in history that Hashem picks Moshe to
liberate his people and bring them to Sinai and eventually the
Promised Land. "And I shall take you unto me as a people and I shall be Hashem unto you...and I shall bring you unto the land."
There is a Midrash which states that the Jewish people were compelled to receive the Torah. Rashi states that Hashem suspended the mountain over them like a basin and declared; "If you accept the Torah, it will be well with you. If not there you will be buried." Equally,
the prophet Ezekiel declares, "As I live, saith The Lord Hashem, I
shall surely rule over you with a strong hand and outstretched arm."
According to these sources, the Jewish people were destined to bear
witness to Hashem. Therefore, whether they wished to do so or not,
our ancestors were obliged to accept the Torah and the sovereignty of
Hashem. Individuals might balk at accepting this mission, but the
people as a whole are committed to doing so as a historical and cosmic necessity. The future course of history and the health of the
universe were conditioned on the Jewish acceptance of their Jewish
Rabbi Mordechai HaCohen points out that the association of Israel's
acceptance of Hashem and Hashem's announcement that he will take them to the promised land is not fortuitous. Just as the collective Jewish acceptance of Hashem and his Torah is an unavoidable necessity, so too, is the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. The land without the Jewish people cannot prosper; as history has shown.
By the same token, the people without the land are incomplete.
Scripturally, therefore, Zionism is no more a political preference.
It is a historical necessity. Our connection with the land is as
central as our connection with Hashem and the Torah.
Let us never ever forget that.
RABBI GABRIEL ELIAS