Will All Israel Return?
Yoseph (Joseph) gave the Hebrews the land of Goshen when Ya’akov (Jacob) and his family came down to Egypt. Yoseph being second in command only after Pharaoh settled them in the land of Goshen where they would live and feed their flocks. But there was also Yoseph’s a second intent to settle them in Goshen, namely, to keep them separate from the paganism of the Egyptians.
At the end the Egyptian exile, when the time came for Israel to leave, Elohim passed through the land of Egypt to protect the Hebrews while He was smiting the first born of the Egyptians. Why did He do this, if Israel had lived separately in the land of Goshen (Exo 12:12-13)? Elohim would have simply passed only through the land where the Egyptians lived to kill the first born, while the Hebrews would have remained in safety in Goshen.
Why was there any need for the ten plagues?
The common understanding is that the purpose of the ten plagues in Egypt was to punish the Egyptians and Pharaoh in particular for what they had done to the Israelites. Although this is true, the present author’s opinion is that they played another role (particularly, the ninth): to punish the Israelites, as well.
So, why was there the need for the plagues and the ninth in particular? And why Yoseph set aside the Israelites in the land of Goshen?
The possible explanation that can answer these questions is that sometime after the twelve sons of Ya’akov died, the Israelites had mingled themselves among the Egyptians, and the assimilation into the pagan culture of Egypt started.
Probably, that was the reason why Elohim brought the slavery upon them in the first place: to stop the assimilation and bring them out of Egypt, because the persecution by the Egyptians was the only way to prevent further assimilation. At any rate, the mingling of the Israelites into the paganism and the disobedience to the command to circumcise their children brought the wrath of YHVH and the slavery upon them, as seen in Jos 24:14, Eze 20:5-9, and Eze 20:33-36.
Israel left Egypt. But, according to the Jewish tradition, however, not all Israel left.
Not all Israel left Egypt, and not all Israel will leave “Egypt”
We read in Exo 10:22-23 concerning the ninth plague of darkness:
And Mosheh stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, while all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. (Exo 10:22-23)
What did exactly happen during those three days of darkness in Egypt? Commonly, these two verses have been understood to mean that during those three days of darkness the Egyptians were punished, but the Israelites were spared. However, is this what the text says? No. We are not told that Egypt was punished, and the Israelites were spared, but the text simply says that there was darkness in the land of Egypt and light in the Israelites’ dwellings.
Although we are given no direct account in the Torah of the life of the Israelites in Egypt from the death of Yoseph until the beginning of the slavery, we can make some deductive reasoning.
From the revelation of Elohim which He gave to Ezekiel the prophet in the seventh year of his exile in Babylon (Eze 20:1), nine hundred years from the day He chose them in Egypt, we understand that the Israelites defiled themselves with the abominations and the idols of Egypt although YHVH had sworn before their father Ya’akov and to his seed and made Himself known to them in the land of Egypt to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. But they rebelled against Him and did not obey Him. So, the Mighty One resolved to pour out His wrath on them to complete His displeasure against them in the midst of the land of Egypt, as we read in Eze 20:5-8.
Thus said the Master Yehovah, “On the day when I chose Israel and lifted My hand in an oath to the seed of the house of Ya’akov and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I lifted My hand in an oath to them, saying, ‘I am Yehovah your Elohim.’ On that day I lifted My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, flowing with milk and honey, the splendor of all lands. And I said to them, ‘Each one of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt! I am Yehovah your Elohim.’ But they rebelled against Me, and would not obey Me. All of them did not throw away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. So, I resolved to pour out My wrath on them to complete My displeasure against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. (Eze 20:5-8)
Therefore, we see that Israel was rebellious and disobedient over those years in Egypt and wrath was poured over them happened as a result of that.
According to Rashi’s comments on Eze 20:8, those three days of darkness in the land of Egypt were days of wrath of Elohim to complete His displeasure against the rebellious Israelites. But what abominations had they possibly done in Egypt? We again may raise the question as to why the children of Israel stayed so long in the land of Egypt, in the first place.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe gives his comment on Gen 47:27 which says:
The Midrash interprets this verse to imply that, “The land held them and grasped them… like a man who is forcefully held.”
So, according to the Sages, the land of Egypt enslaved the Israelites and since a land could not have possibly enslaved anyone, this could only mean that they had chosen to stay comfortably in the Egyptian exile. And indeed, they did. He further expounds that the children of Israel had become so entrenched in the paganism and depravity of Egypt, that the Exodus came at the very last possible moment, as they approached the very brink of total indistinguishability from the Egyptians. Had they remained slaves in Egypt a moment longer, there would have been no “Children of Israel” to redeem (Rebbe’s Haggadah). Will Israel return today from “Egypt”?
The opinion of the present author is that the slavery came upon the Israelites as a last resort to stop the assimilation into the pagan culture of Egypt and those three days of darkness were days of wrath of Elohim to complete His displeasure against the rebellious Israel. All of this happened to the fathers, because they felt comfortable in the foreign land and Egypt began to assimilate them very quickly.
That was an abomination to YHVH Elohim, and his displeasure burned against them. The darkness in the land of Egypt was not for a punishment of the Egyptians, but its purpose was to blind them so they could not see the punishment that came upon the Israelites.
The Time of Reckoning has come, but how many will see it?
Sadly, there are many Jews today who do not want to leave the comfort in the countries where they live. They have built houses, businesses, and careers, and they just do not feel the need to fulfill the command to return to the land promised to Avraham, Yitschak, and Ya’akov: just like the fathers in Egypt, they do not want to leave today’s Egypt, or Babylon, in defilement of the command to flee:
In those days and at that time, declares Yehovah, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Yehuda together, weeping as they come, and seek Yehovah their Elohim. They shall ask the way to Tsiyon, their faces toward it, ‘Come and let us join ourselves to Yehovah, in an everlasting covenant, never to be forgotten.’ … Flee from the midst of Bavel come out of the land of the Chaldeans. And be as rams before a flock. (Jer 50:4-8) Also, Jer 3:11-18, Rev 18:3-5.
The Jewish communities are worried about the surges of Islam in Europe. It is very possible, that the current “exodus” of Muslims from the Middle East is a direct invasion that creates a lot of tension in Europe. As the heat is being turned up on them, more Jews may be expected to leave, but how many will actually leave “the comfort “of Europe.
On the other side of the ocean, the North American Jewry lives a complacent life of prosperity and false sense of security. They may think that since America is far away from the Middle East and Europe, they are safe. But that is not the worst thing.
The worst thing is that despite the coming danger for the Jewry and the warning in the Scripture, the Jewish religious leaders reject the call of YHVH to return home: exactly what the fathers did in Egypt, they are doing in today’s Babylon.
With the End of Days so close, Rabbi Winston explains that Elohim is in the process of identifying who is who, who among the Jewish people will survive the coming changes and who will not.
“If a person is in Israel and connected to the idea of geula [the final redemption of the Jewish people], that person has the best chance of surviving.”
The opposite is also true: those who decide not to leave, but stay in exile, the longest exile of Israel, have no chances to survive. He continues,
“We see from the past that religious observance was not a guaranteed ticket to freedom and protection. Being in the right place at the right time when an exile comes to an end has worked for the religious and secular alike. Many want to believe that there is no imperative to be in Israel today, or at least to dream of living there. But if one follows the trend over the last couple of hundred years, he or she will see that Divine Providence has quietly at times, and not so quietly at other times, been moving the Jewish people back in that direction.”
In other words, according to Rabbi Winston, anti-Semitism in Europe and the U.S. is Elohim’s way of forcing a Jew to choose to be on one side or the other.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.