By David Bedein, A HALF CENTURY SINCE THE CALL TO JERUSALEM
It was just before the Seder more than 50 years ago that my father called me in Madison with the news:
A letter of acceptance at Hebrew University for the Fall semester Jerusalem
My Bones shuddered.
Next Year in Jerusalem would be this year in Jerusalem.
The Seder took on new meaning
Yet Fellow Jews at the Hillel seder in Madison were not impressed.
What I noted in a 1970 diary entry was ” the willingness of fellow Jews to
live in slavery”
Most Jews do not view israel as a step up from slavery.
Unlike other enslaved peoples, the Torah goes out its way, throughout the book of Genesis, to emphasize that Jacob and his children, relocated to Egypt on their own accord, as a free people, seeking sustenance – for which they were ready to subject themselves to a voluntary servitude of their souls.
“We shall be slaves to you, Pharoah!” היינו עבדים לפרעה (Gen. 47:25) proclaim the people of Israel, represents the opposite theme of the Seder, “We were slaves to Pharoah”
The Hebrew context of “willing servitude” says it best:
The Jews cried out:
היינו עבדים לפרעה
A full generation before they cried out
עבדים היינו לפרעה
The Israelites understood slavemy in Egypt as a lifesaving moment
Therefore, Torah commentaries postulate that only 20% of the Israelites chose to leave Egypt
Another reason to remain in Egypt was articulated on page 11 of the tractate Rosh Hashanah, which was that the physical bondage of the people of Israel ended on Rosh Hashanah, seven months before the exodus from Egypt.
And Pharoah did not lift the spiritual oppression of the Jews when he ended their physical abuse as slaves.
Pharoah offered to sustain descendants of Jacob in Goshen, as slaves to to the gods of Egypt
Indeed, the majority of Israelites opted for voluntary servitude in diaspora rather than the trials and tribulations of an uncertain trek to Israel.
In the “Amud HaAish” TV documentary series which documents the return of the Jews to Israel in the 20th century, Zionist leader Chaim Weizman laments “Ayaecha”- “where are you” – to the people of Israel for not flocking to Israel after the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1922 San Remo Conference, which bestowed international recognition and welcome for the Jews to return.
Jews prefer voluntary servitude in suburban Goshen to life in Israel. Is that in their DNA?.
The challenge of the Jew is to reject that DNA.