All Alone by Josh Dubin


In the Hagada, the paragraph of והיא שעמדה, which details how in every generation people rise up against the Jews to destroy them, comes right after the paragraph about how Lavan tried to destroy the Jewish people even before they began.  The Netziv asks why Lavan receives special mention as one of the people who tried to destroy the Jews.  Why is Lavan the paradigm of the enemy of the Jews?

The Netziv answers that this paragraph refers not to Lavan, but to what comes before, the mentioning of the ברית בין הבתרים, the covenant between Hashem and Avraham.  In the Brit, Avraham is told that his children will be גרים, strangers, in a land that is not theirs.  And in fact, this is exactly what Yaakov later told Pharaoh — לגור בארץ באנו, “I come to sojourn in the land” (Bereishit 47:4).  Yaakov had no intention of staying in Egypt any longer than he needed to; he only came because of the famine (כי כבד הרעב בארץ).  This idea is reiterated in Moshe’s final blessing to the Jewish people, when he speaks of בטח בדד עין יעקב, that Yaakov’s intended legacy was that the Jews should be בדד, lonely and separate from the nations that surrounded them.

Only after Yaakov passed away did the situation deteriorate.  Shemot Rabbah tells us that the Jews ceased circumcising their sons to blend in better with their Egyptian hosts, and only then did the Egyptians actually turn against the Jews.  This pattern is one that has been repeated countless times throughout Jewish history.  As the Gemara in Sanhedrin (104b) notes, Hashem intended for the Jews to be בטח בדד עין יעקב, and instead they tried to assimilate and wound up at the stage of איכה ישבה בדד — a nation that was forced to sit by itself, destroyed and in mourning.  Trying to become more like the surrounding society has only resulted in further hostilities against us in every time and in every place.

The Wine of Redemption by Ilan Tokayer

Two In One by Avi-Gil Chaitovsky