Inspirational / News

Why Didn’t We Conquer Egypt?

Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz is thrilled to serve as the Rabbi of Adat Shalom in West Los Angeles.  Since Nolan’s arrival, Adat Shalom has presented innovative programming, has welcomed new members and has announced to once again reestablish a new religious school in the Fall of 2016.

Nolan was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic studies on May 16, 2016.  He began attending Ziegler in 2011 after a 10-year career in the film industry. 

Nolan decided to merge his two passions of Torah and film to make "Roadmap Genesis" - a film documentary that makes the case that the Book of Genesis remains relevant in society today. Interviews in the film range from Gov. Mike Huckabee to Rabbi David Wolpe, from Alan Dershowitz to the late Archbishop of Chicago Francis Cardinal George, and many, many more.  “Roadmap Genesis” was released in 2015 and is currently available through the website and through iTunes.

A grandchild of four survivors of the Holocaust, Nolan was born and raised in the suburbs outside of Chicago.  He grew up at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park and attended Solomon Schechter Day School.  He traveled to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television.  Nolan is married to his wife Blair, and they have three children.

In just a few weeks, we will sit down around a Seder table and celebrate Passover.  We will recount the central narrative of the Jewish People -- our Exodus from Egypt.  In the story, we remember God parting the sea for us and allowing us to cross on dry land, while God drowned the entire Egyptian army. (Exodus 14:21-31)  Then the story naturally continues as we travel in the desert toward our ultimate goal of the Land of Israel.

After witnessing the entire Egyptian army drown, why is it that Moses and the Children of Israel did not demand that God reopen the sea so they could march back and conquer Egypt?  We knew that Egypt sat vulnerable, open to attack.  Why did we not take advantage?

Why don't we as Jews seek vengence?

After reestablishing the State of Israel and building one of the finest Air Forces in the world today, why don't we use the Israeli Air Force against Germany and Poland and so many nations that hosted Hitler's Nazi killing machine?  Why doesn't Israel bomb the camps and the train tracks we begged others to bomb for us roughly 75 years ago?

After waves and waves of rocket attacks from Hamas controlled Gaza, why doesn't Israel use its superior military might to level the Gaza Strip?  Why doesn't Israel destroy Arab villages in a similar fashion to the way its Egyptian and Syrian neighbors wipe out entire Arab towns? 

The answer is quite simple.  We, the Jewish People, seek to build our future -- not destroy the futures of others.  We were builders thousands of years ago and we will be builders for thousands of years to come.  We do not seek vengeance.  We always seek peace.

The message of the Jewish People is positive.  We rise to the highest standards.  We seek to establish the most righteous ideal.  Do we fall short sometimes?  Of course.  But there can be no doubt that our little "start up nation" has achieved great measures in its mere 67 years.  The Jewish People has built a Jewish Homeland we can be proud of in every respect -- socially, economically, culturally, etc...  Is it perfect?  No.  No democratic country can ever be perfect.  Is it great?  Yes.  Simply put, yes it is.

For the last several weeks, I have read self-critical article after article by Jewish authors and Jewish publications about the AIPAC Policy Conference, which I attended as a proud AIPAC supporter.  I have read hyper-critical articles about Israel's treatment of the Arab population -- the same population that continues to carry out stabbing missions against civilians on a daily basis.

We take our self-criticism for granted as a people who once again owns our own sovereignty, living freely on our own land.  Critics are important.  However, the choir of critics should not and cannot drown out the important national and diplomatic interests and work that needs to be done for Israel's sake.  The Jewish People achieves far more when we work together to help build accomplishment rather than when we try to destroy others or even ourselves.  Destruction cannot and should not ever be the goal of any Jewish activist.

So this Passover Seder when you are reading the Haggadah, be proud of our collective reaction at every turn.  We yearned for freedom, we fought for our sovereignty.  May we continue to contribute to a more perfect Jewish society, which in turn helps build and improve the greater global community as well.

Chag Sameach -- Happy Passover!