Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayigash
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicatedin the memory of

Hana Bat Haim

Parashat Vayigash

The Key to Redemption: Temporary Residence


Rabbi Dr. Aharon Adler

The initial stage of our first exile is marked by a list of the seventy names of Yaakov’s household who have just arrived in Egypt. "And these are the names of the children of Israel who are coming ("ha’ba’im") into Egypt" (Bereishit 46:8-27). Interestingly, this very phrase is quoted verbatim in the opening verse of the book of Shemot. There, however, not only are the seventy names reduced to twelve, but the tense also switches from the present "who are coming" in the opening phrase to the past found in the closing phrase: "...each has arrived with his family" (Shemot 1:1). To resolve this grammatical difficulty, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik Zt"l suggested that the key to redemption lies in our ability to see ourselves as having ‘just arrived’ and being nothing more than ‘temporary residents.’ This is borne out by the Midrash which emphasizes that Yaakov’s children retained their Hebrew names: "Reuven descended (from Eretz Yisrael); Reuven ascended (from Egypt), Levi descended; Levi ascended, etc." We also read in the Pesach Haggadah that Yaakov had no intention to plant himself in Egypt; he meant only to live there temporarily. Insisting on a psychological awareness of temporary existence as a necessary prerequisite for achieving redemption, Rabbi Soloveitchik commented that he abhorred the term "Diaspora," preferring instead the harsh word "galut" (exile). "Diaspora" smacks of legitimacy, while "galut" clearly indicates detachment from an original homeland, along with a nostalgic longing to return.

The past two thousand years of Jewish history is replete with examples of Jews being "reminded" of their "temporary residence" status. One should, therefore, not be shocked by the recent sharp rise in world-wide anti-Semitism. When I was growing up in the sixties in New York, my father would comment about isolated anti-Semitic acts (e.g., synagogue or cemetery desecrations) that at least we should remember that we’re in "galut"! Perhaps there was adequate "ha’ba’im" awareness in my home environment that ultimately brought my family out of the American "galut" to join the miraculous historic process of the ingathering of exiles in the land of Israel.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר