Monday, March 25, 2013

  • Monday, March 25, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
From YU's Pesach-to-Go compilation of divrei-Torah, with Rabbi Michael Taubes discussing some of the insights of Rav Soloveitchik on the Haggadah:

[If the Holy One had not taken our ancestors out of Egypt, we, our children and our grandchildren] משועבדים היינו -..would still be enslaved [to Pharaoh in Egypt]


The Ba’al HaHaggadah [author of the Haggdah] states that had G-d not taken us out of Egypt, we and all of our descendants would have remained “meshubadim,” “enslaved” to Pharaoh. Is it not possible, however, that somewhere along the line, one of the Pharaohs might have released the Jewish slaves on his own, as indeed happened on other occasions in history in other places?

The answer is that had that happened, we might indeed have been politically free as a nation, but we would have owed a constant debt of gratitude to whichever Pharaoh it would have been who set us free. In that sense, we would never be able to become completely independent. This explains why the word used here is “meshubadim,” “enslaved,” and not “avadim,” “slaves”—we indeed would not have been slaves, but we would have been enslaved, in the sense of indebted, to Pharaoh.
This is my problem with US policy on Israel.

Certainly, the President said all the right things on his trip last week. Certainly, the US has increased its spending on helping Israel defend itself. But there are always strings attached; in this case the idea that Iron Dome and Patriot missile batteries and other defense systems will help Israel decide not to be pro-active in eliminating threats to her security.

Not to blame the US - it is acting in its self-interest, as any nation should. And the carrot is much more tasty than the stick. But there is an element of gratitude and reciprocity that Jews in general are meticulous in offering.

If US generosity results in a foreign threat getting stronger over time, then it is not a gift at all. It might end up a time-bomb.

By the way, Jewish appreciation for good done to them by others, hakorat hatov,  is in stark contrast to the Arabs, who feel that any Western money that comes their way is an entitlement - and never enough. For just one of many examples, see my previous post.





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