The beautiful thing about learning the parsha with different commentaries is that many of these
great Rabbis ask a simple question that flip things upside down. Did it ever happen that a well-
known story in the Torah which you studied 100 times – all of a sudden – becomes a mind-
blower when a commentator on the Torah asks a question? The immediate reaction is; “I never
realized that!” and the whole story becomes new and exciting. Well, an exact feeling like that
just happened to me and I have been scratching my head ever since. The Slonimer Rebbe asks a
very simple question that never occurred me – or any of the people I spoke to – and everyone
gave the same reaction; “Wow – he’s right! Why did that happen??”
Here’s the question: When Hashem told Avraham what he planned on doing to complete
strangers in Sodom, Avraham immediately put on his defense attorney suit and started pleading
for them. Maybe there were 50 righteous men in Sodom, or 45, or 40… all the way down to 10.
He pleaded with Hashem to spare them and spent a nice amount of time trying to save the evil
people of Sodom from punishment. The fact that he was not successful, is not the point. He
tried and did what he could.
Compare that to when Hashem tells him that his descendants – his own grandchildren – will be
enslaved in Egypt. “Know for sure that your descendants will be foreigners in a land that is not
theirs for 400 years. They will be enslaved and oppressed” (Bereisheit 15:13) What is Avraham’s
response? “WHAT?? My kids will be slaved and oppressed? WHY?? What have they done??”
Well, Avraham’s response was not like that at all. As a matter of fact… he had NO response! No
objection, no discussion and no debate. It was like the way kids talk today: “My kids will be
slaves and oppressed? Cool…”
How can that be? How can Avraham plead for complete strangers in Sodom but not say one
word about his own family being punished? Sounds a bit strange, no?? The answer, says the
Slonimer Rebbe, is quite obvious. The reason Avraham did not protest to what was going to
happen to his own family is because it was something they had to experience. Everybody talks
about leaving Egypt but Avraham knew that going there in the first place was a necessity! He
understood that in order for 70 different people to emerge as one nation – and not stay as
different individuals – a purification process was needed that would transform the sons of
Yaakov into the Nation of Israel.
I am certain that Avraham knew exactly what would happen in Egypt; the pain, the suffering and
the agony. However, as difficult as those visions were for the king of kindness, he accepted them
as a necessary ingredient in the formation of Am Yisrael. Avraham knew that if the 12 sons of
Yaakov stayed in Israel, they would forever remain 12 different sons. Each one would raise a
family, set up a system for their personal needs and only come together a few times a year at
family simchas or cousins clubs. Therefore, they had to be exiled out of Israel. Once there, they
would come together, form a single unit and bond as one. During the dark days of slavery they
would help each other overcome the challenges. Finally, they would raise their voices in prayer
and beg mercy from Hashem who would hear their cries and answer their request. Hashem
would then take these people out of Egypt. They were no longer individuals… they had blended
into the Nation of Israel and were now ready to enter the Land and redeem their eternal
This was the goal of the exile and Avraham realized – that with all the pain and suffering – it was
simply necessary. Therefore, he did not protest when told by Hashem what would happen.
The problem with this logic is that Jews feel that it applies to today as well – and nothing could
be further from the truth! Staying in exile today is not accomplishing anything positive at all… on
the contrary! Staying in America, England, Australia and France today (among other places) is
like staying in Egypt when everyone else marched out to Israel. Yes, descending down to Egypt
was necessary but when the bell rang to leave, it was time to get out… and get out quickly!! The
saddest part of the whole “Exodus” story is that 80% did not leave. They wanted to stay in Egypt
where the slavery had ended and Jewish life was very good. They understood the part about
why their fathers came there in the first place but somewhere along the line, lost focus on the
This is exactly what is happening today to many good Jews around the globe. They believe in
Hashem, serve Him with all their might but simply lost focus on the main task at hand: To serve
Hashem as part of the Jewish Nation in the Land of Israel. With all due respect to what has
been accomplished over the years, the time has come to close the shuls and Yeshivas in New
York, Baltimore and Lakewood and move them – along with every student and Rebbe – to the
Land of our Fathers.
Yes, the years in Egypt had a purpose and so did the 2,000 years in Poland, Lithuania, Russia,
Morocco, Turkey, Yemen and the USA. Those years of exile built us into what we are today but
they are over. The focus now is on the last part of the promise made by Hashem to Avraham;
“They will leave with great wealth” (Bereisheit 15:14). After every exile, after every painful
period of time, there is always the “great wealth” that follows.
In our recent history there was the darkest and worse period ever for the Jewish nation. Yet,
even after that indescribable pain came the promise that “they will leave with great wealth”…
the State of Israel… which came into being a mere 3 years after the Holocaust.
The time has come to leave the modern day Egypt. The slavery is over and the doors are open.
The prophecy of being carried to Israel “on the wings of an eagle” has come true – and the eagle
is called “EL AL”(or British Air, Alitalia, Air Canada etc…) These days, as you study and listen to
the weekly Torah portion, understand that it is talking to you. Hashem didn’t just want the Jews
out of Egypt, He wants you out of New York and London as well. Don’t just listen to the words of
the Torah… make sure you live them as well. We’re waiting for you.