When the ancient Israelites were led out of Egypt, it turns out that not everyone was 100% on board with the idea. Those who refused divine providence, our Sages tell us, were wiped out during the plague of darkness. Before you go feeling bad for them, keep in mind that those folks had borne witness to the utter devastation of Egypt through the first eight plagues. Anyone unwilling to see the hand of G-d in such a series of miracles would have to be as obstinate as a Pharaoh, and too stubborn, in the Almighty’s estimation at least, to join the Jewish nation. And considering that the Jews are noted throughout the Bible specifically for their stubbornness, that’s really saying something.
But we’re not talking about the Hebrews that never left Egypt. We’re talking about the hangers-on who participated in the Exodus. Jewish tradition maintains that this mixed multitude, or “erev rav,” consisted primarily of converts of questionable sincerity. It was the erev rav who would lead the Israelite descent into idolatry as they camped at the base of Mt. Sinai. But even before that, the erev rav were that nagging voice in klal Yisrael’s head telling them what a big mistake it was to embark for land G-d had promised to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“[T]he multitude among them began to have strong cravings. Then even the children of Israel once again began to cry, and they said, ‘Who will feed us meat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge, the cucumbers, the watermelons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now, our bodies are dried out, for there is nothing at all; we have nothing but manna to look at.’ “ (Bamidbar 11:1-6)
These Jewish rabble-rousers have no interest in establishing a Jewish country in a Jewish land, and they look back fondly to a time before the Jews set off for Israel, back when we could feel the oppressor’s reassuring boot pressed upon our necks, and we knew our place as second-class subjects. Good thing we don’t have such backward-thinking, traitorous fools among us today, am I right?
Perhaps you haven’t heard of Neturei Karta yet; lucky you. These ostensibly orthodox, fervently anti-Zionist Jews remember the good ol’ days, before the Jews came to Israel. Zionism, they believe, is anathema to Judaism, and a force for evil in the world. Zionism, the Neturei Kartaniks contend, is the primary cause of modern day anti-Semitism. Clearly, if those Zionists hadn’t come along, the whole anti-Semitism thing would have run out of steam by now. Of course, while they’re busy blaming the victim, they don’t really find the time to adequately explain why the world’s hatred of Jews never ceased between our slavery in Egypt, and the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land in 1948; and how anti-Semitism today is fundamentally different from anti-Semitism 70 years ago, or 200 years ago, or 2,000 years ago.
The erev rav, and the Israelites who joined them, looked back to their captivity in Egypt through rose-tinted glasses, remembering the delicacies they supposedly once enjoyed (perhaps it is specifically with this in mind that the Passover seder enjoins us to partake of matzah, the bread of our affliction). Similarly, Neturei Karta looks back to the glorious history of the nation of “Palestine” (which, like the free food in Egypt, also only exists in the minds of the ignorant and the delusional). And the golden age of dhimmitude, when we Jews (and the Christians) were tolerated as second-class subjects.
Well I for one reject that, and I reject the delusional, obsequious, suicidal erev rav/Neturei Karta mentality! Thank G-d, after two thousand years, the Jews have come home, and we have no one to apologize to for that. We have no one to apologize to for winning wars that were waged against us. The only thing we owe is gratitude, to the brave men and women of the IDF, their stalwart supporters, and G-d Almighty for making the impossible a reality.
May we all merit, on this Passover, to have the strength to free ourselves from the psychological and dogmatic bondage that has warped the minds of Neturei Karta and their ilk to the point that they stand alongside the sworn enemies of not just the State of Israel, but the Jewish people.
As He did for our forefathers with “a strong hand and an outstretched arm” in those days, and again in 1948, 1967, and 1973, may He do once more with the ultimate redemption, and the coming of Moshiach, may it be speedily and in our days.
Wishing you all a kosher and joyous Passover holiday,
The Jewish Voice
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