This week we read Parshas Shemos, the first parsha in the book of Exodus. The first verse of this parsha begins, “Vaile Shemos bnai Yisroel haboim Mitrayma”,- “And these are the names of the Jewish people, who came (lit. are coming) to Egypt”… The obvious question is, why does the Torah use the present tense – the word haboim- who are coming? Wouldn’t it be more correct to write Shebau – those who came already? After all, at the time that the story is being written by Moses, the Jews had long since arrived in Egypt?
The Torah teaches us a great lesson here. When Jacob was going to Egypt with his children, he was very concerned that they may lose their identity as Jews. Perhaps they would just be swallowed into the melting pot of Egyptian society. He wanted to ensure that they would always realize that they were Jews. True, they are loyal citizens; but they must not identify themselves as Egyptians with a Jewish background. This was the message that he instilled in them. My children are haboim- who are coming!! They are Jews from Israel, who happen to be coming to Egypt. Even if they are here for two hundred years, they still are coming to Egypt, they still are not the regular residents of the land.
If we could only instill this feeling of Jewish identity and pride in all our Jewish youth, our chances of survival as a people would be raised so much!! Let us hope that we soon see the day when a universal sense of this Jewish identity surrounds all Jews, united to keep the Torah as one nation together.