So, it was time for the Israelites to leave the land, but the leader of the nation thought that the Israelites should stay.
You might think that I am talking about this week’s Torah portion, Va’era. – with Moses telling Pharaoh to let the Israelites go and Pharaoh refusing. However, I could just as easily be talking about modern-day France.
In the wake of the virulently anti-Semitic attack, which took place in Paris just this past week, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared, “If 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France.” While it is obvious that his reasoning is a little different than the reasoning of the Pharaoh in the Bible, the Jews of France must still make a decision on their own.
Since I first heard about the attack on a kosher grocery store in Paris, I have asked myself whether I would be able to stay in a country where such an attack took place. If it were an isolated incident of anti-Semitism, that would be one thing. However, it seems that anti-Semitism is on the rise in France.
I have wondered whether the world would be interested in such an anti-Semitic attack if it had not happened on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo incident. I don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t know that anyone knows the answer to that question.
At the end of the day, French Jews must answer the question for themselves about whether they should stay or should they go. If they choose to stay because they feel that Judaism can continue to thrive in France, then I fully support them. If they stay because they feel an obligation to Manuel Valls and the French republic, then I’m not so sure.
When the Israelites left Egypt, God promised to take them to the Promised Land. The Jews of France today are blessed to know that Israel is waiting for them in the event that France is no longer a viable option. I pray that is not the case.