A newly discovered letter from Concerned Elders of Israel on the eve of the Exodus, translated for the benefit of the modern reader:
To our dear brethren in Goshen and throughout greater Egypt, peace be upon you. The developments of the last few months have been very exciting, and many of us have been caught up in the current events that seem, at first glance, to be miraculous, and too many, the beginning of the long-awaited redemption. However, it is also important for us to re-state and emphasize that it has been the unanimous opinion of our gedolim that we are to remain in galus until such as time as God Himself redeems us, and until that happens, we are to accept the yoke of gentile servitude without question, and we are forbidden to in any way rebel against our Egyptian masters and His Majesty, the Pharaoh. Such was explicitly told to us by our avos, Avraham and Yaakov, and repeated by Yosef Hatzaddik before he died.
Concerning the horrible plagues that have befallen this country in the last few months, we must remember that it they can all be rationally attributed to a chain of natural consequences, and not necessarily a series of miracles, for after all, the Ribbono Shel Olam would only make beneficial miracles on behalf of great tzaddikim, like of those of generations past. There have been reports of an awesome mountain at the headwaters of the Nile, far to our south in the land of Ethiopia, that erupted and spewed thick red mud into the river, and it is this blood-like substance that forced all the frogs out of the Nile and killed the fish, and it was the piles of dead frogs and fish that in turn attracted all types of vermin, disease, and wild animals.
It is too soon for us to declare that these events have anything to do with our plight although they have distracted the Egyptians from forcing us to work as of late. Have the anthrax and hail done anything to actually help us leave Egypt? We must, unfortunately, be ready for these plagues to pass, and for the Egyptians to recover and begin subjugating us once more. We can anticipate this because Avraham Avinu was told that his descendants would be oppressed and subjugated as strangers in a land not theirs for 400 years, and by the count of our gedolim, it is more than clear that this galus has barely lasted 200 years. It is also wrong for anyone to attempt to calculate when the Redemption will come about, because when it does not happen as he predicts, it harms his emunah.
We have nothing against individuals who may feel that for them, eventually settling in the land of Canaan is right, but for most of us, it may not be so. Today, Eretz Canaan is a land full of idolaters and their idols; there are barely any Israelite religious institutions there, and the governmental authorities are not friendly to Israelites. At least here, the government sees to it that we are well-fed, with plenty of fresh fish and stewed meat, and plentiful vegetables, and does not seek to indoctrinate our children. Here agriculture is much easier, as the Nile provides the country with an unending water supply, whereas Canaan is dependent on seasonal rainfall, which, as we all know happened many times in the times of the avos, sometimes is not sufficient, leading to devastating famines. There are also reports that the land is inhabited by fearsome and belligerent giants, against whom we stand little chance in battle.
Concerning the most prominent advocate
of this new, nationalist, redemptive movement, Moses, son of Harav
Hagaon Amram ben Kehas, zatz’’al, we must exercise extreme
caution. He may have yichus, but his ideas and pronouncements have
been highly questionable.
Firstly, he still has to answer for his
unusual upbringing. It has become known to us that he did not
actually grow up at home with his distinguished parents and ybidla’’h
siblings, but was actually raised in the royal household as the
adoptive grandson of the very Pharaoh who first subjugated us and
massacred are children! We have been told by reliable sources that
even when he was just a young man, he engaged in subversive and
rebellious activities against the Egyptian authorities, a grave
prohibition under the law of the land and the commandments of our
fathers. He disappeared from this country for decades, and only now,
after reportedly marrying the daughter of a prominent idolatrous
Midianite priest, he has come back telling us that which none of our
gedolim have said, that God appeared to him and that he is His
emissary of Redemption.
We do not need to remind you how bad it was for us when he first showed up, and instead of redeeming us, he incited Pharaoh to deprive us of the raw materials we so badly needed to complete our brick quotas, which remained as before. People claim to have seen Moses perform miracles, such as turning a staff into a serpent, and summoning frogs and blood and the like. Alas, there are equally reliable reports of Pharaoh’s own magicians doing likewise, making this Moses not any different from or better than any of them.
Moses’s pronouncements also fly in the face of what we have been expecting from any traditional redeemer. We have been waiting to be led back to the promised land, but he wants to take us into the desert, to some mountain venerated by the same idolatrous Midianites. He has repeatedly demanded that Pharaoh let us go to this place in order to offer sacrifice to our God, and that by no means will we perform any form of traditional sacrifice here in Egypt, as that would offend our masters, but now he has changed his tune, saying that we will offer God sacrifice right here in Egypt, and that we will slaughter the animals that our masters consider sacred. We would not be surprised if Moses will soon claim that instead of building the Beis Hamikdash in Eretz Canaan, as we know we shall, we should build a temporary and portable mikdash in the desert next to his chosen mountain. We can only imagine what other halachic hiddushim he will try to spring on us if we follow him there.
Therefore, we call upon all of you to please exercise patience, caution, and reason. Moses wants all of us to, in the coming days, prepare goats and sheep for sacrifice, and to eventually apply the blood of those animals to our doorposts before the night when he says we will be driven out by Pharaoh. We have a chazaka that just as after the last events, Pharaoh did not let us go, so too after whatever happens next week he will not let us go, especially after a mass act of rebellion on our part. Adderabba, it could lead to a reprisal on their part, chas veshalom. Therefore, we will only begin to prepare for an Exodus from Egypt once we hear that Pharaoh himself has given his permission. We call upon all Beis Yisrael to do likewise.