Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Redemption, Exodus: Would You have been One of the One Fifth 1/5?
In the simplistic rendition, narrative of the Exodus from Egypt, when the Jewish "slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt" managed to flee with the help of Gd, multiple miracles, one gets the impression that all the Jews left together. But a more exact reading of the Bible and Hagaddah and commentaries tells a different story. Only one fifth 1/5 20% of the Jewish slaves to Pharaoh followed Moses and Aaron out of Egypt and through the for forty years of wandering and transformation into the Jewish People who entered the Holy Promised Land with Joshua.
That's a better percentage than Gd got a few hundred years before when He sent out the לך לך Lech lecha, "Go, yes, you" message, and only Abram and Sarai, later renamed Abraham and Sarah responded by voting with their feet.
I'm pretty sure that my husband and I, plus many of our friends would have been among those to have followed Moses and Joshua throughout all the challenges they had faced. Not only are we here now in the Holy Promised Land, but we've been here ever since we were old enough to make our own life decisions, marry and have children. Our children and grandchildren, bli eyin haraa, not to tempt the Evil Eye, are here, too.
What happened to the 4/5 four fifths 80% of the Jewish slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt? They're gone, wiped out. There's no trace of them anymore, unlike the descendants of the Hidden Jews of the Spanish Inquisition, who even after over five hundred years have been returning to Judaism.
Yesterday we returned to our first home in Israel, Maon Betar, in what is now called the Jewish Quarter of the Old Walled City of Jerusalem. Maon Betar has long closed down, but the building is in use. The section where we had lived is now a dormitory for the Netiv Aryeh yeshiva, and downstairs is the Plugat Hakotel Museum.
In my life experience and decisions, I see the beginnings of Zionism to build vibrant Jewish Life in the Land of Israel as the call from Gd, echoing לך לך Lech lecha, "Go, yes, you." Then it got louder in 1948 with Israel's Declaration of Independence and even louder in 1967 when the State of Israel so miraculously defeated the Arab armies who aimed to totally destroy the State of Israel. Three years later we docked in Haifa Port and began our new lives as a married couple here in the Holy Land.
Contrary to the many negative predictions and warnings we received as we packed up our few possessions before boarding the Greek Lines Queen Anna Maria, our move to Israel in 1970 proved a wise move. The State of Israel has miraculously developed into one of the most advanced modern countries in the world. I can say the same for our 1981 decision to move to Shiloh, which then was a small isolated community, dependent on an unreliable generator for electricity and trucks bearing water. Today Shiloh is the main community in a large vibrant bloc of Jewish towns, home to a couple of thousand families. Nearby Eli is even larger than Shiloh. The Gush Shiloh Bloc extends from west of Highway 60 to the Alon Road way to the east. Just a ten minute drive north west of Shiloh is the City of Ariel, which not only has government offices and lots of stores but also the Ariel University. Today it's hard to imagine, but the Shiloh we first visited in early 1981 had barely thirty families.
As crazy as it had seemed to our family and some of our friends when we made aliyah as a young married couple in 1970, it was the right move. If you're still stuck in the Diaspora, join us. Don't risk disappearing like 4/5 80% of the Jews who had been slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.