Who's Got The Remote?
their enslavement and suffering might
continue forever. It is then that they
heave a collective sigh of frustration,
and cry for their seemingly unending
It is precisely at this point, the
Torah tells us, that their cries do not
'm a big Star Wars fan. When
fall on deaf ears. "... and their cry rose
every movie critic on the planet
up to God from their work..And God
panned the latest Star Wars
remembered His covenant with
movie, Attack of the Clones, as a
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
boring, mindless waste of three hours,
Only when God begins pushing the
I went to see it anyway. They were
buttons on His remote-control-on-
right. But the special effects were
high does history begin moving again.
In the very next chapter,
So, when it came out on
God appears to Moshe; the
DVD, I rented Attack of the
bush burns; and the rest, as
Clones, and with the help of
they say, is history.
my handy-dandy remote con-
Today, we seem to be
trol, I easily skipped the
again experiencing that
wooden, boring and mindless
same Jewish suffering. The
dialogue and fast-forwarded
current intifada, which
to the exciting action
began almost two and half
years ago, continues unabat-
Sometimes, history seems
ed. The diminished number.
to be a lot like that Star Wars
of Jewish fatalities in recent
DVD. At times, it plays in
months owes not to a
slow motion, as we watch
renewed hope for a lasting
events develop in mind-
and durable peace, but the
numbing and painful monot-
effectiveness of the Israeli
ony. Rome, as they say, wasn't
security forces in combating
built in a day.
the massive terrorist infra-
At other times, though, history
structure pervasive throughout the
runs in fast forward, as the rushing
West Bank and Gaza.
torrent of time sweeps away decades in
We truly see no end in sight. Ehud
an instant. The Berlin Wall actually
Barak tried and failed. While Ariel
fell in a day. Some historical develop-
Sharon might seem somewhat more
ments occur over decades while others
effective, he has come no closer to
take only minutes.
achieving a pertnanent resolution that
The first chapter of Shemot— a
will end this difficult period of Jewish
chapter that covers over 140 years of
time — describes the extended
We have reached a point of national
enslavement of the Jewish people at
frustration that has begun to sound
the hands of their Egyptian oppres-
like the huge sigh of the Jews in
sors. There's really not a lot to tell:
hard work, pain and suffering. Not
So we wonder: will this intifada,
which shows no sign of letting up,
The Torah then recounts, "And it
continue indefinitely, for years or per-
was in those many days, the king of
haps even decades to come? Or, can
Egypt died, and the Jewish people
we hope that history will once again
sighed from the work and they cried
move into fast-forward, ending this
out." Why do they sigh now? Why cry
painful struggle abruptly?
now? What's changed?
It all depends on who we think is
Chizkuni, the medieval Torah com-
holding the clicker.
mentator, explains that when the king
dies and a new king takes his place,
the Jewish people hope that this new
king will annul the evil decrees of his
predecessor. Instead, this new pharaoh
simply continues the oppressive poli-
Does Moshe, raised by royalty
cies aimed at degrading and subjugat-
and growing up in the palace of
ing the Jewish slaves.
pharaoh in Egypt, consider him-
When the change in leadership pro-
self a Jew or an Egyptian? How
duces no change in the Jews' status
does this affect his leadership of
and situation, they begin to fear that
the Jewish people later on?
Exodus 1:1-6:1; Isaiah
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