Each Generation We Must See Ourselves

April 4th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 25 comments

We are in the midst of Passover and I am delighted to be sharing the festival with so many children and grandchildren.  At the same time, that means that my computer and I haven’t seen a great deal of each other this week. My head is full of menus and cooking timetables, leaving little room for pondering current world affairs. One main focus of Passover, however, is realizing that without continually keeping an eye on the past, present and future, humans are prone to mess up. With this in mind, I’d like to share a Musing from April, 2012 that is no less relevant today.

 

“In each generation every person must view themselves as if they left Egypt.” A few nights ago, Jews around the world recited a sentence expressing this thought at the Passover Seder. Shortly before the holiday started, my son, Ari, saw one aspect of this idea come to life.

I think most of us picture ourselves on the right side of history. Had we lived in different times and places surely we would have stood with the abolitionists rather than the slave-owners; would have joined the Resistance rather than the Nazi Party; and would have opposed Stalin rather than embracing him. We more easily picture ourselves following Moses through the sea rather than ignoring him and the God he represented.  But the majority of Jews did not leave Egypt. Eighty percent chose loyalty to Pharaoh and the status quo.  Bad choice.

Being courageous and noble is always easier with hindsight. If we were all virtuous, wise, discerning and proper-thinking people, there would be no evil to defeat in the world. It is obviously quite easy to follow a wrong ideology and be swayed by misguided and evil philosophies. Ideas which sound good can be awfully destructive. Fully aware of how courage is contagious, our son, Ari, took time from an incredibly busy schedule to go hear Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the brave and heroic women of our day. If you have not read her book, Infidel, I highly recommend that you do. An outspoken activist against the worst manifestations of Islamo-fascist behavior, particularly as it affects women and children, she risks her life by speaking out and has been forced into exile for her views.

Hearing her speak was a mixed experience. Ari appreciated her words and was glad to support her as she addressed the students at a major university in Maryland. The student reaction, however, was demoralizing. Ms. Ali and America were attacked. Listening to the questioners, one would be forgiven for thinking that the Moslem world is a bastion of women’s rights and peaceful coexistence among all religions while America is a bigoted, repressive society. In Ari’s words, “The questions and questioners were uniformly dumb, rude, antagonistic and illogical.  What was incredible is that the moderator, the president of the university, allowed and encouraged their behavior.  It was truly childish and embarrassing.”

In every generation in which evil triumphs, many who side with it are ‘useful idiots’ or swept along with the crowd. We should never stop looking deep inside ourselves and asking ourselves whether we are on the right side of issues and will be able to look back and declare that we, indeed, did align ourselves with those who chose God rather than Pharaoh.

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25 comments

Susan, I couldn’t agree with you more. Realizing that without continually keeping an eye on the past, present and future, humans are prone to mess up is no less relevant today.

Our young impressionable people who are being swayed by misguided and evil philosophies seem to be caught in a cyclical pattern that runs from generation to generation in the United States of America. For the children of today, it is obviously quite easy to follow a wrong ideology.

In a Judaeo-Christian society, such as we have, do you believe we as believers are failing in our mission to reach the people, failing to exercise our authoritative powers over the government and most of all failing to exercise the courage to confront the evils that keep challenging us from day to day? Are we part of the problem? What are your and Rabbi Lapin’s thoughts about these things?

Joyce R. says:

Thank you for sharing Ari’s experience. Every day it seems we hear of even worse reports of the failure to even listen to speakers on college campuses and elsewhere if they do not espouse the current socially acceptable mantra. Not long ago, thugs trashed Berkeley in protest of a planned speech by Ben Shapiro sponsored by the university’s college republicans. A similar event with Ann Coulter was cancelled when the university said they could not guarantee her safety. A generation ago, the ACLU and all liberal’s would have been up in arms at this assault on free speech. Not a murmur from any liberal groups at either of these or the many other assaults on free speech around the country because the speakers were not making politically correct statements. With some exceptions, conservatives haven’t raised their voices in protest either. It is as if a spirit of slumber has overtaken the people where it is easier to let groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter run amok than speak in defense of truth and simple civility. We no longer expect respect from the young thugs demanding that we give up our guns and our right to speak out against their socialist, if not nihilist, agendas. Few of our congressmen and representatives live up to the oaths they swear upon taking office to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States. Having said all this, I do not believe we are without hope. As a country with a large remnant of Jews and Christians who believe in the Sovereign Lord and Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Most High promised in II Chronicles, ch. 7, that if His people, who are called by His Name, would humble themselves, turn from their evil ways, and call upon His Name, He would hear from heaven and He would heal their land. Although that promise was originally made to King Solomon and Israel, I trust the Lord that He will extend it to us here today if we will heed the call to repentance.

Diana says:

When she received her papers, and I read the following: “As of 6/24/17, you have been granted asylum in the United States pursuant to section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Your derivative family member(s) listed above –who are present in the United States, who were included in your asylum application, and for whom you have established …are also granted derivative asylum.”
And case numbers for the three of them, I was overjoyed for a young Saudi friend of mine who’s family has enacted acts of hate against her because of their definition of family honor and religion. We knew she would be granted asylum, based on what her family had been putting her through, who they are and the money they have to back their positions up, however the wait had been a very frightening one. To read in an online news posting how much hatred her family has for her and her kids –her famiy having posted hers & her kids death by car accident notice for all the world to see when they were & are very much alive, as a testament to how serious their vendetta is against her, and the money they have plenty of to pay for the acts of honor violence —do more than test one’s faith, strength, and courage. And she’s certainly been tested above and beyond. She has great deep faith and great courage, as do her kids. When, because of my friendship with her, her family had someone at their embassy email my dad a background check on me that included both of my exhusbands, and also left a shovel on my front lawn one morning that my then 12th grader found on her way to the bus stop to school, its times iike these we learn how solid our faith is and where we need to yet grow in it. Courage comes in many forms, however in today’s p.c., more secular than ever culture, courage seems to be lacking (dare I say dis-couraged from practicing it?) in those places in our communities & people where we have the right to expect to find it. And it’s so heart-breaking.

I think the hardest part of “doing the right thing” is looking far enough down the road to accurately predict the consequences of behavior. Like the game of chess, can we see 4 or 5 moves beyond the present move? This is hard work but so necessary for partnering with G-d. The Torah and the wise sages provide us guidance to exercise our free will.

Paul morley says:

Very interesting as usual, thank you. I do wonder where the thought that 80% of the Hebrews stayed loyal to pharaoh comes from? I have just read the account again and can only see that in chapter 12 v38 many other slaves joined the Hebrews. Is this something from ancient Jewish wisdom?
Blessings
Paul.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Paul–
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. You surely do remember it? Maybe we ought to rerun it!
Cordially
RDL

Joyce R. says:

Rabbi, please do rerun it. I don’t think I had begun to understand by then how much I needed a rabbi. 🙂

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Joyce–
Request registered and Susan and I decided to do just that We’re not sure exactly when but keep watching your Inbox for the Thought Tool that reruns that one.
Cordially
RDL

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Paul–
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. It’s based on the correct translation of a word in Exodus 13:18 which means 1/5. Maybe we ought to rerun that Thought Tool again!
Cordially
RDL

Very wonderful and as always your edify me. But where do we the the reference that eighty percent of the Israelite chose Pharoah

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Musyani-
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. Maybe we ought to rerun it!
Cordially
RDL

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Musyani-
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. It’s based on the correct translation of a word in Exodus 13:18 which means 1/5. Maybe we ought to rerun that Thought Tool again!
Cordially
RDL

JAMES DIVINE says:

I had never heard that 80% stayed behind. Where is that info? Thank you for your insight!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear James–
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. Surely you remember? Maybe we ought to rerun it!
Cordially
RDL

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear James–
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. It’s based on the correct translation of a word in Exodus 13:18 which means 1/5. Maybe we ought to rerun that Thought Tool again!
Cordially
RDL

Reid Corin says:

Dear Susan, gut yontef to you and your family. I read your musing with interest especially the part where you say that the majority of Jews did not leave Egypt. I am amazed by this having unquestionably assumed the whole Jewish nation left Egypt with Moses. Does the Torah refer to this fact, or where do you take this from? Regards, Reid

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Reid
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. Maybe we ought to rerun it!
Cordially
RDL

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Reid–
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. It’s based on the correct translation of a word in Exodus 13:18 which means 1/5. Maybe we ought to rerun that Thought Tool again!
Cordially
RDL

Susan Lapin says:

Please excuse me if I don’t respond right now. I will try to do so later, otherwise after the holiday.

Vince says:

Why are so many American Jews so loyal to a certain policical party, though this party is not loyal to Israel. 3,500 years and nothing has changed. 80% stayed loyal to pharaoh, today likewise with American Jews.

bob aronson says:

Vince, in my opinion, its because those 80% (according to Pew Poll 2012) are, as Pew called them, “nothing Jews”….meaning everything else first and Jews last, if Jews at all…..for a good example, check out who is the newly named executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State…..

Janet says:

I had no idea that 80 percent of the Hebrews stayed in Egypt. Did I miss this info in the Bible? Thanks.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Janet–
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. Maybe we ought to rerun it!
Cordially
RDL

Sonia Nelson says:

Dear Susan,
It’s great to hear Ari went to hear Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak. I will have to buy her book. (I believe I’ve seen her on fb, or on Fox.) She is quite brave to speak out against Islam, and I pray for her safety.
Like others have asked above, I am wondering where the 80% is written. I will check out resources after getting off here.
Anyway, I found your musing quite interesting, again.
Hope your Holiday is exceptionally blessed.
Love from Pennsylvania,
Sonia

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Sonia
You ask about the 80% who remained back in Egypt. It is well known in ancient Jewish wisdom and is all explained in a Thought Tool we published on March 26, 2009. Maybe we ought to rerun it!
Cordially
RDL

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