Whenever the Israeli leadership considers an important choice - to give the Bar-Ilan 2 speech or not; to meet with Justin Bieber or not - the decision depends on the "mood of the public." We have a government that listens, one whose direction is dictated by surveys which are followed blindly.
This form of listening is bad practice for decision-makers. Had Moses been as attentive as our prime minister to the songs of joy or the crying of his people, we would not have been liberated, and we would have been left until today as slaves. In slavery too, there is a significant degree of comfort.
"The public" did not really want to leave Egypt and was ready, at every opportunity, to pass on the chance for independence. Moses did not need surveys to know that he was dealing with a difficult, fickle, complaining people.
Even before Pharaoh decided to let them leave, the people were already complaining to Moses and Aaron that they had been besmirched before the king, at a time when they were actually trying to gain his favor. And when they saw the Egyptians chasing them, they began complaining again: Were there no graves in Egypt that you took us to the desert to die? The shifts between depression and euphoria, so commonplace among the mob, are sharp and quick: A short while later Pharaoh's chariots drowned in the sea, and they were already singing hallelujah.
With difficulty the Land of Israel was reached and suddenly there was nothing to drink. In the desert there was nothing to eat, and there was only nostalgia for the comfort of the free. Refidim was the next stop, and once more there was no water. Luckily there was no electricity back then for refrigeration and air conditioning. Had someone unplugged the mains, Moses would have been stoned and not even able to gaze at the Promised Lane from the other side of the river.
And then, the Golden Calf makes an appearance in the life of the nation, the worst of all sins. For a moment it appeared to the masses that the leadership had gone missing - perhaps Moses had died, perhaps he had ran away - and immediately the people were barbecuing, laughing, praying to other gods.
Without golden calves and money to bow before them, how can those who behave like beasts have lives better than humans? When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he listens to "the wishes of the nation", what does he actually hear in all the mooing?
But why should we go so far back to prove our point? In our very time, have there not been many stories which began with great bravado and ended meekly? Have disasters not befallen us which started with the support of the majority, and only then became a minority?
Everything is in the surveys and carved in memory. A mass as a herd is still the same mass, and the generations are the same generations, only the great leaders of the current generation are small and make us appear to be grasshoppers. David Ben-Gurion was able to differentiate between "want" and "desire," unlike our modern-day leaders.
There are no more breakers of tablets, and there is no one to collect the pieces and put them back together. There are none who come down to the people from the mountain, because he who has never been able to rise can never climb down to be with his people.
The exodus from Egypt is not yet over. It is just beginning, because internal opposition to liberation remains there. This morning, on the holiday eve, I open the window of my home and my country, look outside and inside, in an effort to adjust myself to the spring: The whole country is full of calves, the whole country is full of broken pieces of tablets.
I can see long lines, people hungry and humiliated waiting for handouts; it is hard to identify them because they are transparent. My gaze wanders and I see the neighbors from over there, climbing the fences and the walls in order to get a break; and black people and their children having to pretend to be refugees, when they are migrants to our country. I see the pressure which is pressing them. Where am I: in Egypt, the desert, the Promised Land?
Suddenly it all falls together: That same day a decision is made to charge two of them with getting fat on calves - Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarek, and another Israeli minister in office, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. They are beginning to become a lot like us in getting rid of the hametz, and we are more like them in the dirt.
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