Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The Pharaoh in each generation.”

Paradoxically, it was assimilation that made exile complete.

For it was then that the Jew lost his own distinctive character.

Such a Jew, even when he leaves the physical exile and arrives in his own land, continues carrying the exile with him.

He continues to be subservient to the external world – subservient in his way of thought and principles of faith.

Although the external world may no longer rule his body, it continues its tyranny over his soul.

Large sectors of the Jewish People act this way.

They work and toil, build cities and edifices, found cultures and bring about revolutions, develop sciences and write literature – all for the Pharaoh in each generation.

The “taskmasters and officers” at times appear openly, but at times they are internalized, so that there is no longer a need for an officer from without to keep the slave in his slavery.

Thus, the Jewish Peoples servitude continues, as it creates and builds for others, performing avoda zara – service that is alien to itself.

This is exactly how the nation expresses itself in Song of Songs: “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I did not keep.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz