YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
HaRav Yehuda Kreuser SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva
PARSHAT KI TISSA
20 Adar 5770/5-6 March 2010
THE GREAT DEBATE - EREV-RAV: YES OR NO?
"Hashem spoke to Moses, 'Go, descend, for your nation that you have brought up from Egypt has degenerated. They have strayed quickly from the way that I have commanded them."
Rashi is quick to point out that Torah tell us that it was the nation that you brought out of Egypt that has strayed from the path and built a golden calf. Should it not have been written: the nation has strayed from the path? What is the meaning of your nation? Was it Moses' nation and not G-d's nation that left Egypt? Rather, Rashi is informing us that the people responsible for the sin of the golden calf were the mixed multitudes known as the Erev-Rav: Those non-Jewish slaves that were also in slavery in Egypt and left with us. Hashem said to Moses at that time: You did not consult Me about whether they should join the exodus of the Jewish people or not, but you did it on your own. You said it is good that converts should cling to the Divine Presence, but they became degenerate and caused degeneracy among the Jewish people.
Then should these mixed multitudes, the Erev-Rav, be allowed to enter the community of the Jewish people? Was it a mistake on Moses' part to take the Erev-Rav with them? The Talmud teaches us that in Abraham's time Timna, the daughter of one of the chief leaders, wanted to join the Jewish people but Abraham's court rejected her. In the end, she became the concubine of Esau's eldest son, for she said: Better to be a maidservant to this people than a princess of another people. Apparently, Abraham was of the opinion that the time was not right for certain elements to join with us.
One who was of the opinion to bring in the mixed multitudes to the Jewish people was King Solomon. Solomon married one thousand wives, women from all the nations of the world, princesses, in order to spread the teachings of the Torah and bring the nations closer to Hashem. Unfortunately, as the Tanach teaches us, Solomon's attempt was not successful, "and when Solomon was old he burnt incense to idols." Our Rabbis are quick to point out that Solomon himself did not worship idols, but he did not rebuke his many wives for worshipping them. In the end, instead of Solomon influencing them, they influenced him.
A prime example of the nations joining with the Jewish people before the right time is the story that we find in the book of Joshua. The Gibeonites, a nation in the Jerusalem area, came to the Jewish people though trickery. Acting as if they came from a distant land, they force their way into a treaty with Joshua and the elders, thus joining the Jewish people. But in the time of king David, they showed their true colors and their trait of cruelty by having seven descendents of King Saul put to death. After seeing this, King David and his court rejected the Gibeonites, and forever decreed that they cannot join the Jewish people.
So great is the danger of the Erev-Rav that the Tikkunei Zohar writes: "And all the exile and destruction of the Temple and all the tribulations - it is all [the result] of Moshe Rabbeinu's accepting the Erev Rav, and all the brash and evil men of the generation are of them, that is to say from their souls, that they are an incarnation of them."
The Gra in Kol-Hator writes: "The Erev-Rav is our greatest foe, he is what separates the two Messiahs, the Erev-Rav operates only by deceit, and indirectly. Therefore the war against the Erev-Rav is the most difficult and most bitter, and we must use all our remaining forces to win this war. Whoever is not engaged in actively fighting the Erev-Rav becomes an automatic partner to the Erev-Rav, and whoever this may be, it would be better for him had he not been created."
Apparently the time for the Erev-Rav to join forces with us is not now; somewhere down the road, after the complete Redemption when the Jewish people will be a light unto the nations, it will be time to take them in. In the meantime, it is the Erev-Rav, like in Moses' time, who are doing all they can to stop the Redemption from taking place. Beware, for the danger is great!
In the words of the Safra ditz'ni'utha: G-d transplants them into every generation, and they are the bold-faced of the generation. Our Sages said that in the period of "Messiah's footsteps", impudence will become great... and the Erev-Rav will return to be the shepherds of Israel."
Blessings from Jerusalem,