Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Beshalach - 5773
GETTING EGYPT OUT OF THE JEW
Many people I know love traveling light. The last thing they want to do is take with them something that they will never use during their trip. “Only the necessary shall be schlept!”
As Klal Yisrael left Egypt the Torah notes that Moshe took the remains of Yosef to fulfill his will that he be buried in Eretz Yisrael. Taking Yosef with them was more than just fulfilling a promise, it was actually part of the process of the exodus.
Despite the fact the the nation left Egypt physically many Jews still identified themselves as Egyptian. For such individuals Yosef was the symbol of the ideal Jew; a person who can reach the pinnacle of society-in exile- despite his Jewish roots. Unfortunately, the departure from exile and having Israel as our destination is not enough to uproot such a view.
In 1943 a kibbutz was established in the Upper Galilee by the Labor Zionist youth movement. The kibbutz was named in honor of Léon Blum, a former Prime Minister of France. Blum did not value Eretz Yisrael and believed that Jews must commit themselves to human rights and not to the specificity of their Jewishness. One would have hoped that the wisdom that the air of Israel provides would have awakened the members of the kibbutz and make them realize that true Jewish heroes, worthy of naming a kibbutz in their name, are the ones that recognize the full worth of our land and and our tradition!
By taking Yosef with them and reminding the people that Yosef wanted Eretz Israel to be his final resting place, and not Egypt, Moshe affirmed to all Jews that Egypt and its culture has no place in the Jewish heart. This indeed was a crucial component of Yitziat Mitzraim.