Tuesday, 21 May 2013

in the merit of three things were the jews redeemed from Egypt...

Have you read this article about the need to address the haredi exclusion of women? have a look here

It all makes me think of two things.

A year or two ago i read - or heard - an excellent dvar torah. it was one of those explanations which makes everything make sense. i wish i could quote it b'shem omro, because it is so good, but i totally cannot even remember if i read it or heard it.

We are all familiar with the famous medrash that the Jews were redeemed from Egypt because they did not change their language (lashon), their names (shemos) and their way of dress (levush). You may have also heard it quoted in such a way as to make it clear that Jews have not been redeemed now because the women of Israel are not tzanua enough (=changed their levush).

You are probably also familliar with the teaching of the holy Ari, that the Jewish people were on the 49th level of impurity when they were redeemed from Egypt, and they had to leave s ofast so that they did not sink to the final level from which there would be no possiblity of return or redemption.

I had always wondered how both of these teachings could be true, and the dvar torah i read explanined them. It pointedo ut, how could it be that the Jewish people were so holy that they preserved their dress, language nad names, but were also on the 49th level of impurity? It's because we always misudnerstand what the first midrash means. It wasn;t something praiseworthy of them, that they were so holy that they even kept these three things the same. it's that this was all they had. All that the Jews in Egypt had which connected them to the traditions of their Fathers was that they dressed differently, they spoke differently, and they had different sorts of names. they didn;t know why  they did all these things differently, just that they did. this was the 49th level of impurity. One more level down, and they would not have even preserved those things; they would have nbecome irredeemable. Makes sense now, doesn;t it? such a light-bulb moment. As the unique and wonderful dayan lopian says they were junkies - Just Uniform No Knowledge.

Our Sages teach us that the exile and exodus from Egypt serves as a model for all future exile and all future redemption. We all know that we are near to the time of Moshiach, near to the time of redemption. As i look around, i think that we are in that 49th level now. all we have to connect us are those three things - language, names, and dress. All this obsession with how women dress and making them dress more and more modestly - to me, that reminds me of this vort. 49th level of impurity. i just pray that we get out of this soon.

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