Israel Forever

For the week ending 20 January 2007 / 1 Shevat 5767

All Work and Play Makes Israel a Dull Nation

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

When Moshe and Aharon approached Pharaoh with a message from G-d to allow the Hebrew slaves to spend three days in the desert offering sacrifices to Him, the response was to impose an even heavier burden of slave labor upon our ancestors. "They are idle and therefore they cry out for the opportunity to sacrifice," complained the cruel Egyptian despot who saw the danger of free time inviting thoughts of freedom.

In his classic Mesillat Yesharim, Rabbi Moshe Luzzato compares the strategy of Pharaoh mentioned in this week's Torah portion with that of the yetzer hara (evil inclination), which keeps a person so busy that he does not have time to think of his real purpose in life.

Too many Jews in Israel and elsewhere are guilty of submitting to this strategy and are so busy with work and play that they don't stop to think about what is really important in their individual lives and the life of the nation.

Just as our ancestors did not allow Pharaoh's strategy to prevent them from calling out to G-d and thus achieving freedom from slavery, so too must our people today free themselves from workaholism and playaholism and reflect upon what will truly secure Israel forever.

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