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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Shmot

Living in Israel today

1031
Dedicated to the memory of
Chana bat Chaim
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The focus of Parshat Shemoth is the designation of Moshe Rabbeinu as the leader of Klal Yisroel. Hashem charged him with the mission of leading the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage to Sinai for Kabbalat Hatorah and ultimately on to Eretz Yisroel. Much of the narrative describes Moshe Rabbeinus hesitancy to assume the responsibility, until he finally acquiesces. During his negotiations with Hashem, he raises several issues. The second one is as follows: Moshe said, When I come to Bnai Yisroel and say to them, the G-d of your fathers has sent me to you, they will ask me, What is His name? What should I say to them? G-d said to Moshe, Ehke Asher Ehke. Thus shall you say, Ehke sent me to you. The phrase can be translated, I am that I am, or I will be that I will be.

Rashi's explanation captures the essence of the message. Hashem's presence is immanent in the continuity of Israel's historic experience. Were it not for this truism the very survival of the Jewish people would defy rational explanation. As Voltaire declared when asked why for all his skepticism he still believed in G-d, he answered, had it not been for the miracle of the survival of the Jewish people, I would have given up that belief as well. Voltaire was a realist; that is why he retained his belief. Voltaires response reflected the implication of Ehke Asher Ehke, that is, the narrative of the Jewish experience implies the immanence of Hashem's presence.

The establishment of Medinat Yisroel after nineteen hundred years of Galut is a verification of this belief. Today it contains the largest Jewish population in the world. Although beset by extraordinary challenges and surrounded on all sides by hostile nations, it not only survives, but continues to advance virtually in all spheres of human endeavor. To top it off it stands proud, courageous and defiant against overwhelming odds. Is this not a miracle? Is it not beyond human comprehension? Is not Voltaires response as appropriate today than in his day? The single answer to the three questions is a resounding, yes.

Thus, living in Israel today represents Jewish realism, as well as the fulfillment of the mission enunciated by Hashem to Moshe Rabbeinu.
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