Moses & the Establishment of the People of Israel
In the previous article, we described Israel’s time in Egypt, how they prospered while they were
united under Joseph’s leadership, and how they assimilated after his passing, which then turned
the Egyptians against them. In this article, we will explore Moses’ efforts to reunite the
tormented and enslaved people and thereby redeem them from their oppressors and bring them
out of Egypt. We will also show that once they united and were redeemed, they were tasked with
being “a light unto nations,” namely to pass on their unity to the rest of the world.
Despite their worsening situation in Egypt, Israel did not unite until the arrival of Moses. When
he arrived, he began to reunite Israel until, eventually, they were able to escape from Pharaoh’s
Once out of Egypt, at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the people of Israel solidified their unity to the point
that they became as one. This is why the great 11 th century commentator RASHI described them
as being “as one man with one heart.” That level of unity was the requirement for the aggregate
of strangers who subscribed to Abraham’s message to be “officially” declared a nation. There, at
the foot of the mountain, was the birth of the nation of Israel. The example of disunity and
enslavement vs. unity and redemption that the Hebrews had experienced in Egypt was to be a
lesson for them to maintain their unity no matter how intense their egoism grows. As we will see
throughout this series, the linkage between disunity and adversity has not been broken since.
Regrettably, neither has the lesson been learned.
When Moses united the people of Israel, he did not intend to unite Israel only for their own sake.
Just as Abraham wanted to unite all the Babylonians but had to do with those who followed him,
Moses wanted to help the whole world find unity, not just the Israelites.
Accommodating Moses’ wish to spread the ideology of unity to all of humanity, immediately
after the people of Israel were declared a nation, they were tasked with being “a light unto
nations” (Isaiah 42:5, Isaiah 49:6), namely to spread this unity. In The Commentary of Ramchal
on the Torah, the great 18 th century kabbalist wrote, “Moses wished to complete the correction of
the world at that time. This is why he took the mixed multitude, as he thought that thus would be
the correction of the world … However, he did not succeed because of the corruptions that
occurred along the way.”
Similar to Ramchal, in the 19 th century, Isaac Hever Wildman wrote in his book Beit Olamim,
“That was Moses’ prayer and blessing to the generation of the desert, that they would be the
beginning of the correction of the world.”
Even more astounding words regarding the purpose of establishing the people of Israel were
written in the book Maor VaShemesh: “‘That He may establish you today as His people’ means
that by that you will have revival, you will be saved from all calamities. Afterwards He said to
them, ‘Now not with you alone am I making this covenant,’ meaning that being saved from any
harm by bonding was not promised only to Moses’ generation. Rather, ‘But with those who
stand here with us today … and with those who are not with us here today,’ meaning that all
future generations have been promised it—to pass through all the bludgeons of the covenant, and
that they will not be harmed, through the unity and bonding that will be among them.”
We therefore see that the level of unity in Israel, the fate of the people, and the fate of the world
have been linked from the very inception of the nation. That unbroken link is at the root of all
our troubles, as we will see through the rest of this series.
The next article will look into the events that led to the split within the people of Israel between
the Kingdom of Israel, the Kingdom of Judah, and the corruption that led to the ruin of the first
For much more on this topic, please see my latest publication, The Jewish Choice: Unity or Anti-
Semitism: Historical facts on antisemitism as a reflection of Jewish social discord