Early Exposure – The Lesson of Goshen for Today

The news of the tragedy that occurred last week in Connecticut has shaken our community and, in fact, the entire nation. The sheer brutality and magnitude of the incident has taken this country past previous boundaries to the unthinkable.

Our children are growing up in a very different world than we did. It goes without saying that our children have become aware of these tragedies, and each of us needs to find the age-appropriate reassuring words to ensure their sense of security and safety.

As always, we turn to the Torah to guide us and shed light on the proper perspectives in any situation. Chazal teach us that when anything occurs in the world, it is, in truth, a communication to us by Hashem. It behooves us to try to find a way to grow from every situation.

The Torah teaches us that upon deciding to move to Mitzrayim, Yaakov sent his son Yehudah to open a yeshivah in Goshen. Yaakov did not intend to  settle among the Egyptians. The Shevatim would move to an area where they could follow the ways of their heritage. But first, a yeshivah would have to be built so that people would be able to live their lives guided by the eternal principles of the Torah.

Yaakov was showing his descendants how they would survive in galus. Living in galus may be required, but we would always find a way to avoid total assimilation into foreign culture. We would have to find a way to insulate ourselves as much as possible.

There is no question that the society we live in today has become more decadent and more violent. Even the media (albeit ever so briefly) has begun to question their messages and agendas. It cannot be psychologically healthy for young people to be frequently exposed to violence and the like. When young people hear about the murder of 20 children and it becomes just another news item, something is very wrong.

Baruch Hashem, we have a very different society. We should appreciate that we have a Torah that is eternal and not subject to the trends of society. We are a people of chessed and love. We are a kind and merciful people. Of course, we have our own problems and issues; however, we must remember that only Hashem and his Torah are perfect, while people are not.

This is why the lesson of Goshen is as important today as it was in the days of Yaakov. We want our children to be exposed to Torah, mitzvos, kedushah and purity as much as possible. It certainly is no easy task. But, if we have the desire to do so, may we be zocheh to siyatta diShmaya.


Rabbi Yisroel Fuchs is the Menahel of Mesivta of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, Baltimore.

Reprinted from TA Times, the weekly newsletter of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim/Talmudical Academy of Baltimore.