A Look at the Book
This Shabbat we begin reading in our synagogues the second of the Five Books of the Torah – Sefer Shmot. This Book is subtitled the “Book of Exile and Redemption”. Its eleven parshiot trace the history of our people from their exile in Egypt to their redemption, their receiving of the Torah and their construction of the Mishkan Sanctuary.
In his commentary on Chumash, Ramban calls attention to the fact that freedom from Egyptian bondage is already recorded in the third parsha of the Book and yet the process of redemption is not considered complete until our ancestors received the Torah and built a sanctuary in which the Divine Presence could dwell.
There are Jews in the Jewish State of Israel who confuse statehood with redemption from exile. They would do well to take a good look at the Book of Shmot and the lesson it conveys about exile and redemption. Just as it was necessary for the Jews who were taken out of Egypt to have Egyptian culture taken out of them through Torah and Sanctuary, so too must we see leaving the lands of our current exile for our Homeland as an incomplete end to that exile. Our exile will not end until we abandon the secular ideas we imported from this exile and achieve true redemption by returning to Torah and being worthy of a rebuilt Sanctuary which will make Israel holy and secure forever.