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Shabbat Parashat Yitro 5777

Ein Ayah: Not Ready to Lead

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 3:2)

Gemara: Rav Yehuda said: Whoever moves from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael, violates a positive commandment, as it says: “They will go to Bavel and will remain there” (Yirmiyahu 27:22)


Ein Ayah: The goal of connecting Bnei Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael is that there should be one nation in the world upon whom Hashem, the G-d of the world, hovers, by His hand being revealed in them, their history, and the chain of their progeny. This nation should be the single source for humanity to draw knowledge of Hashem and His ways in the land. They must demonstrate the lesson that godliness can fill an entire nation so that divine ways will lead not just an individual’s private life. Rather, they must lead the affairs of nations and their interrelationships based on the deep ways of Hashem, which are full of kindness, justice, and charity. To meet this goal, it is crucial that the general divine “seal” be attached to the whole nation, which will impress upon it that it stands out among the nations in that it is the Nation of Hashem and that its land is the Land of Hashem.

However, things changed when Israel left its Protector. Although there remained individuals who fulfilled many of the mitzvot, the nation as a whole lost its seal. In that way, one could no longer recognize the Land as the Land of Hashem and the nation and kingdom as the Nation of Hashem, at a time when the people found for themselves personal interests like those of all the other nations, such as matters of power.

For that reason, Israel was exiled from its Land, so that they could wander in exile among many nations. While lacking any of its own national property, they will still find themselves as standing out and being separate from the nations. Then, they will know that they have something unique which gives them a special national identity, namely, that the Name of Hashem is called upon them.

Therefore, when Bnei Yisrael’s spirit improved in Bavel and their Jewish center was based solely on the sanctity of the Torah, this caused a flowering of Hashem’s interest in saving the nation and a return to their deepest recognition of their uniqueness. Only when this would progress sufficiently, would they be able to return to their base and to their Land and the full strength of national acquisitions. But this time is in essence the time for Hashem to redeem them in the fullest manner and gather the scattered nation from among the nations and return a descendant of David to the crown.

Regarding the individual who progressed to be fit to live with the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael, it is not for the individual that the exile was established but for the nation as a whole. Therefore, the power of the experience of exile should not be blurred by individuals who could cause the forgetting of the purpose of being in the Land, namely, as a nation with dominion in the Land which Hashem chose for their eternal portion.

The vessels of the Beit Hamikdash (which is the literal context of the pasuk about remaining in Bavel) have a purpose only when the Beit Hamidash is standing and operating. So too, individuals can contribute to show the spiritual strength of Israel in their Holy Land only when Hashem decides the time has come to bring them all together.

This is why Rav Yehuda opposed leaving Bavel, which had become the spiritual center of Judaism, which was appropriate for the nation at their level at that time, calling it the abrogation of a positive mitzva. He should wait there and wait for the nation to complete development until the point that they would be ready to make the proper impact in Eretz Yisrael together with all the national acquisitions that are needed for a well established nation.

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