exile of the willing

The Ohr HaHayyim explains that, in the beginning of Shemot, HaShem counts Yaakov Avinu's descendants (a second time) to show that each one of them approved of going into exile. Just as Avraham accepted the necesity for exile when HaShem explained it to him, so too Yaakov's children and grandchildren recognized the need for the exile, and accepted it upon themselves. 

That's a really novel take on the exile. We welcomed and accepted it, aware of what spiritual benefits would eventually come of it: Most notably the reception of the Torah.

I had always wondered why it was that once they buried Yaakov Avinu they had returned to Egypt. Couldn't they have just moved back? The famine was over? I always looked at this as an example of exile-based Judaism today -- they have the state of Israel, and still they'd rather live in Florida.

Yes, there are many explanations of why the exile is so important, (to redeem all the souls, the sparks of holiness that were scattered throughout the world during its creation, for one) but I've never really thought about a national exile of choice. 

This is at the heart of the Israel crises. We all want to be back in Israel, reunited as one people, but have we finished what we went into exile to do? This is the uncertainty, this is the divide.


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