Friday, February 10, 2006


Okay, so here's the scenario. You are part of a group of more than a half million able bodied, heavily armed men. You are being chased by a well trained army and they have you cornered. What do you do?
A. Turn around and fight like mad.
B. Just give up. Throw up your hands and say "OK, you win".
When the Jews found themselves in this situation on their way out of Egypt, here's what they chose:

י וּפַרְעֹה, הִקְרִיב; וַיִּשְׂאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-עֵינֵיהֶם וְהִנֵּה מִצְרַיִם נֹסֵעַ אַחֲרֵיהֶם, וַיִּירְאוּ מְאֹד, וַיִּצְעֲקוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶל-יְהוָה. יא וַיֹּאמְרוּ, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, הֲמִבְּלִי אֵין-קְבָרִים בְּמִצְרַיִם, לְקַחְתָּנוּ לָמוּת בַּמִּדְבָּר: מַה-זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לָּנוּ, לְהוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם. יב הֲלֹא-זֶה הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְנוּ אֵלֶיךָ בְמִצְרַיִם לֵאמֹר, חֲדַל מִמֶּנּוּ, וְנַעַבְדָה אֶת-מִצְרָיִם: כִּי טוֹב לָנוּ עֲבֹד אֶת-מִצְרַיִם, מִמֻּתֵנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר
10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were sore afraid; and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.
11 And they said unto Moses: 'Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to bring us forth out of Egypt?
12 Is not this the word that we spoke unto thee in Egypt, saying: Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.'
So, first they cried out to G-d. No problem with that. And then they (or maybe it was another group - see RaMBaN) just lost it. Why did you bring us here in the first place we would rather remain enslaved in Egypt than to be killed here in the wilderness. Now, I am not Moshe. But if I was I would say, "Folks, here is our chance to get back at those who mercilessly worked us and beat us for so many years. We have plenty of weapons, we have a huge army, let's get going". But as we all know, that's not what Moshe said. Instead he told them "Don't worry, sit back and see what G-d has in store".
Ibn Ezra explains, that Moshe understood that there is no way he could get them to fight. A people who are born into slavery and live that way their entire lives cannot just change overnight. They have the mindset of subjects. The fact that they now are free cannot change that which is ingrained in their minds for over a century. At this point in time they were simply incapable of acting like free people. That was true then, it's still just as true in today's world.
Are you listening, Mr. President?