Remember to Forget

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אֱמֶת כִּי אַתָּה הוּא דַּיָּן וּמוֹכִיחַ וְיוֹדֵעַ וָעֵד וְכוֹתֵב וְחוֹתֵם וְסוֹפֵר וּמוֹנֶה וְתִזְכֹּר כָּל הַנִּשְׁכָּחוֹת וְתִפְתַּח אֶת סֵפֶר הַזִּכְרוֹנוֹת וּמֵאֵלָיו יִקָּרֵא וְחוֹתָם יַד כָּל אָדָם בּוֹ

It is true that you are the one who judges, and reproves, who knows all, and bears witness, who inscribes, and seals, who reckons and enumerates. You remember all that is forgotten. You open the book of records, and from it, all shall be read. In it lies each person's insignia.

(ג) לֹא־יָבֹ֥א מַמְזֵ֖ר בִּקְהַ֣ל ה' גַּ֚ם דּ֣וֹר עֲשִׂירִ֔י לֹא־יָ֥בֹא ל֖וֹ בִּקְהַ֥ל ה'׃ {ס} (ד) לֹֽא־יָבֹ֧א עַמּוֹנִ֛י וּמוֹאָבִ֖י בִּקְהַ֣ל ה' גַּ֚ם דּ֣וֹר עֲשִׂירִ֔י לֹא־יָבֹ֥א לָהֶ֛ם בִּקְהַ֥ל ה' עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ (ה) עַל־דְּבַ֞ר אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹא־קִדְּמ֤וּ אֶתְכֶם֙ בַּלֶּ֣חֶם וּבַמַּ֔יִם בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֣ם מִמִּצְרָ֑יִם וַאֲשֶׁר֩ שָׂכַ֨ר עָלֶ֜יךָ אֶת־בִּלְעָ֣ם בֶּן־בְּע֗וֹר מִפְּת֛וֹר אֲרַ֥ם נַהֲרַ֖יִם לְקַֽלְלֶֽךָּ׃ (ו) וְלֹֽא־אָבָ֞ה ה' אֱלֹקֶ֙יךָ֙ לִשְׁמֹ֣עַ אֶל־בִּלְעָ֔ם וַיַּהֲפֹךְ֩ ה' אֱלֹקֶ֧יךָ לְּךָ֛ אֶת־הַקְּלָלָ֖ה לִבְרָכָ֑ה כִּ֥י אֲהֵֽבְךָ֖ ה' אֱלֹקֶֽיךָ׃ (ז) לֹא־תִדְרֹ֥שׁ שְׁלֹמָ֖ם וְטֹבָתָ֑ם כׇּל־יָמֶ֖יךָ לְעוֹלָֽם׃ {ס} (ח) לֹֽא־תְתַעֵ֣ב אֲדֹמִ֔י כִּ֥י אָחִ֖יךָ ה֑וּא לֹא־תְתַעֵ֣ב מִצְרִ֔י כִּי־גֵ֖ר הָיִ֥יתָ בְאַרְצֽוֹ׃ (ט) בָּנִ֛ים אֲשֶׁר־יִוָּלְד֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם דּ֣וֹר שְׁלִישִׁ֑י יָבֹ֥א לָהֶ֖ם בִּקְהַ֥ל ה'׃ {ס}

(3) No one misbegotten shall be admitted into the congregation of ה'; no descendant of such, even in the tenth generation, shall be admitted into the congregation of ה'. (4) No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted into the congregation of ה'; no descendants of such, even in the tenth generation, shall ever be admitted into the congregation of ה', (5) because they did not meet you with food and water on your journey after you left Egypt, and because they hired Balaam son of Beor, from Pethor of Aram-naharaim, to curse you.— (6) But your God ה' refused to heed Balaam; instead, your God ה' turned the curse into a blessing for you, for your God ה' loves you.— (7) You shall never concern yourself with their welfare or benefit as long as you live. (8) You shall not abhor an Edomite, for such is your kin. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in that land. (9) Children born to them may be admitted into the congregation of ה' in the third generation.

לא תתעב אדמי. לְגַמְרֵי, וְאַעַ"פִּ שֶׁרָאוּי לְךָ לְתַעֲבוֹ שֶׁיָּצָא בַּחֶרֶב לִקְרָאתֶךָ:

לא תתעב אדמי THOU SHALT NOT ABHOR AN EDOMITE utterly, although it would be proper for you to abhor him because he came out against thee with the sword (Numbers 20:18—20).

לא תתעב מצרי. מִכֹּל וָכֹל, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁזָּרְקוּ זְכוּרֵיכֶם לַיְאוֹר. מַה טַּעַם? שֶׁהָיוּ לָכֶם אַכְסַנְיָא בִּשְׁעַת הַדְּחָק. לְפִיכָךְ —

לא תתעב מצרי THOU SHALT NOT ABHOR AN EGYPTIAN all in all (utterly), although they cast your male children into the river. And what is the reason that you should not abhor him utterly? Because they were your hosts in time of need (during Joseph’s reign when the neighbouring countries suffered from famine); therefore although they sinned against you do not utterly abhor him, but —
(ח) הִשָּׁ֧מֶר בְּנֶֽגַע־הַצָּרַ֛עַת לִשְׁמֹ֥ר מְאֹ֖ד וְלַעֲשׂ֑וֹת כְּכֹל֩ אֲשֶׁר־יוֹר֨וּ אֶתְכֶ֜ם הַכֹּהֲנִ֧ים הַלְוִיִּ֛ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּיתִ֖ם תִּשְׁמְר֥וּ לַעֲשֽׂוֹת׃ (ט) זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֧ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֛ה ה' אֱלֹקֶ֖יךָ לְמִרְיָ֑ם בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ {ס}
(8) In cases of a skin affection be most careful to do exactly as the levitical priests instruct you. Take care to do as I have commanded them. (9) Remember what your God ה' did to Miriam on the journey after you left Egypt.
זכור את אשר עשה ה' אלקיך למרים. אִם בָּאתָ לְהִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא תִלְקֶה בְּצָרַעַת אַל תְּסַפֵּר לָשׁוֹן הָרָע, זְכֹר הֶעָשׂוּי לְמִרְיָם שֶׁדִּבְּרָה בְאָחִיהָ וְלָקְתָה בִנְגָעִים (עי' ספרי):
זכור את אשר עשה ה' אלקיך למרים REMEMBER WHAT THE LORD THY GOD DID UNTO MIRIAM — if you wish to guard yourself against being stricken with leprosy, do not speak slander! Remember what was done unto Miriam who spoke slander against her brother and was stricken with a leprous plague! (cf. Sifrei Devarim 275:1).

(יז) לֹ֣א תַטֶּ֔ה מִשְׁפַּ֖ט גֵּ֣ר יָת֑וֹם וְלֹ֣א תַחֲבֹ֔ל בֶּ֖גֶד אַלְמָנָֽה׃ (יח) וְזָכַרְתָּ֗ כִּ֣י עֶ֤בֶד הָיִ֙יתָ֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם וַֽיִּפְדְּךָ֛ ה' אֱלֹקֶ֖יךָ מִשָּׁ֑ם עַל־כֵּ֞ן אָנֹכִ֤י מְצַוְּךָ֙ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֶת־הַדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּֽה׃ {ס}

(17) You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pawn. (18) Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that your God ה' redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment.

(ט) וְגֵ֖ר לֹ֣א תִלְחָ֑ץ וְאַתֶּ֗ם יְדַעְתֶּם֙ אֶת־נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַגֵּ֔ר כִּֽי־גֵרִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃

(9) You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.

כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים לא והנכון בעיני כי יאמר, לא תונה גר ולא תלחצנו ותחשבו שאין לו מציל מידך, כי אתה ידעת שהייתם גרים בארץ מצרים וראיתי את הלחץ אשר מצרים לוחצים אתכם ועשיתי בהם נקמה, כי אני רואה דמעת העשוקים אשר אין להם מנחם ומיד עושקיהם כח, ואני מציל כל אדם מיד חזק ממנו וכן האלמנה והיתום לא תענו כי אשמע צעקתם, שכל אלה אינם בוטחים בנפשם, ועלי יבטחו: ובפסוק האחר הוסיף טעם ואתם ידעתם את נפש הגר כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים (שמות כ״ג:ט׳) כלומר, ידעתם כי כל גר נפשו שפלה עליו והוא נאנח וצועק ועיניו תמיד אל ה' וירחם עליו כאשר רחם עליכם, כמו שכתוב (שמות ב׳:כ״ג) ויאנחו בני ישראל מן העבודה ויצעקו ותעל שועתם אל האלקים מן העבודה. כלומר לא בזכותם רק שרחם עליהם מן העבודה:

AND A STRANGER SHALT THOU NOT WRONG, NEITHER SHALT THOU OPPRESS HIM; FOR YE WERE STRANGERS IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.
The correct interpretation appears to me to be that He is saying: “Do not wrong a stranger or oppress him, thinking as you might that none can deliver him out of your hand; for you know that you were strangers in the land of Egypt and I saw the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppressed you, and I avenged your cause on them, because I behold the tears of such who are oppressed and have no comforter, and on the side of their oppressors there is power, and I deliver each one from him that is too strong for him. Likewise you shall not afflict the widow and the fatherless child, for I will hear their cry, for all these people do not rely upon themselves but trust in Me.” And in another verse He added this reason: for ye know the soul of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. That is to say, you know that every stranger feels depressed, and is always sighing and crying, and his eyes are always directed towards G-d, therefore He will have mercy upon him even as He showed mercy to you, just as it is written, and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto G-d by reason of the bondage, meaning that He had mercy on them not because of their merits, but only an account of the bondage [and likewise He has mercy on all who are oppressed].

(טו) אֶ֣בֶן שְׁלֵמָ֤ה וָצֶ֙דֶק֙ יִֽהְיֶה־לָּ֔ךְ אֵיפָ֧ה שְׁלֵמָ֛ה וָצֶ֖דֶק יִֽהְיֶה־לָּ֑ךְ לְמַ֙עַן֙ יַאֲרִ֣יכוּ יָמֶ֔יךָ עַ֚ל הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־ה' אֱלֹקֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽךְ׃ (טז) כִּ֧י תוֹעֲבַ֛ת ה' אֱלֹקֶ֖יךָ כׇּל־עֹ֣שֵׂה אֵ֑לֶּה כֹּ֖ל עֹ֥שֵׂה עָֽוֶל׃ {פ}
(יז) זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ (יח) אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כׇּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחֲרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ וְלֹ֥א יָרֵ֖א אֱלֹקִֽים׃ (יט) וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ ה' אֱלֹקֶ֣יךָ ׀ לְ֠ךָ֠ מִכׇּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְהֹוָה־אֱ֠לֹקֶ֠יךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח׃ {פ}

(15) You must have completely honest weights and completely honest measures, if you are to endure long on the soil that your God ה' is giving you. (16) For everyone who does those things, everyone who deals dishonestly, is abhorrent to your God ה'. (17) Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt— (18) how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. (19) Therefore, when your God ה' grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that your God ה' is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

זכור את אשר עשה לך. אִם שִׁקַּרְתָּ בְמִדּוֹת וּבְמִשְׁקָלוֹת הֱוֵי דוֹאֵג מִגֵּרוּי הָאוֹיֵב, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי י"א) "מֹאזְנֵי מִרְמָה תּוֹעֲבַת ה'", וּכְתִיב בַּתְרֵיהּ "בָּא זָדוֹן וַיָּבֹא קָלוֹן" (תנחומא):

זכור את אשר עשה לך REMEMBER WHAT [AMALEK] DID UNTO THEE — If you use false weights and measures then you must apprehend the provocation of the enemy, as it states (Proverbs 11:1): “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, etc.”, and there is written immediately after this (v. 2): “If intentional sin comes, shame comes”(Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Teitzei 8).

תמחה את זכר עמלק. מֵאִישׁ עַד אִשָּׁה מֵעוֹלֵל וְעַד יוֹנֵק מִשּׁוֹר וְעַד שֶׂה (שמואל א ט"ו), שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא שֵׁם עֲמָלֵק נִזְכָּר אֲפִלּוּ עַל הַבְּהֵמָה, לוֹמַר בְּהֵמָה זוֹ מִשֶּׁל עֲמָלֵק הָיְתָה (פסיק' זוטר'):
תמחה את זכר עמלק THOU SHALT WIPE AWAY THE REMEMBRANCE OF AMALEK, — both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep (a quotation from I Samuel 15:3, stating how the Amalekites were to be destroyed), so that the name of Amalek should never again be mentioned even in connection with a beast, in that one could say: “This beast belonged to Amalek” (Pesikta Zutrata).

The Prohibition Against Living in Egypt

Altogether the verb zakbar appears in its various declensions in the Bible no less than one hundred and sixty-nine times, usually with either Israel or God as the subject, for memory is incumbent upon both. The verb is complemented by its obverse-forgetting. As Israel is enjoined to remember, so is it adjured not to forget. Both imperatives have resounded with enduring effect among the Jews since biblical times. Indeed, in trying to understand the survival of a people that has spent most of its life in global dispersion, I would submit that the history of its memory, largely neglected and yet to be written, may prove of some consequence.

Only in Israel and nowhcte clse is the injunction to remember felt as a religious imperative to an entire people. Its reverberations everywhere, but they rcach a crescendo in the Deuteronomic history and in the prophets, "Rernember the days of old, consider the years of ages past" (Deut. 32:7)."Remember these things, O Jacob, for you, O Istacl, are My servanr; I have fashioned you, you are My servant; O Israel, never forget Me" (Is. 44:21). "Remember what Amalek did to you" (Deut. 23:I7). "O My people,
remember now what Balak king of Moab plotted against you" (Michah 6:5). And with a hammering insistance: "Remember that you were a slave in Egypt...."

If Herodotus was the father of history, the fathers of meaning in history were the Jews.

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory (The Samuel and Althea Stroum lectures in Jewish studies) Hardcover – February 1, 1983 by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi intro

(יג) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֣ה אֶל־הָעָם֮ אַל־תִּירָ֒אוּ֒ הִֽתְיַצְּב֗וּ וּרְאוּ֙ אֶת־יְשׁוּעַ֣ת ה' אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה לָכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם כִּ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר רְאִיתֶ֤ם אֶת־מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ הַיּ֔וֹם לֹ֥א תֹסִ֛פוּ לִרְאֹתָ֥ם ע֖וֹד עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃
(13) But Moses said to the people, “Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which ה' will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.
כי אשר ראיתם את מצרים היום לא תוסיפו לראותם עוד על דעת רבותינו היא מצות לא תעשה לדורות (מכילתא כאן). ואם כן יאמר הכתוב אל תיראו, התיצבו במקומכם וראו את ישועת ה' שיושיע אתכם היום מידם ואל תשובו לעבודתם, כי מצרים אשר ראיתם אותם היום הקב''ה מצוה אתכם עוד שלא תוסיפו ברצונכם לראותם מעתה ועד עולם ותהיה מצוה מפי משה לישראל, ולא הוזכרה למעלה. וכן ולא ישיב את העם מצרימה למען הרבות סוס וה' אמר לכם לא תוסיפון לשוב בדרך הזה עוד (דברים יז טז), שהיא מצוה באמת, לא הבטחה:
FOR WHEREAS YE HAVE SEEN THE EGYPTIANS TODAY, YE SHALL SEE THEM AGAIN NO MORE. In the opinion of our Rabbis, this is a negative commandment for all times. If so, Scripture is stating: “Fear ye not, stand still in your places, and see the salvation of the Eternal in that He will save you today from their hands. Concerning the Egyptians you see today, G-d commands you to see them no more of your own free will henceforth and for ever.” It is thus a commandment by the mouth of Moses to Israel, even though it is not mentioned above [that G-d had said so to Moses]. Similarly, the verse, And he [the king] shall not cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses; forasmuch as the Eternal hath said unto you: Ye shall henceforth return no more that way, indeed constitutes a commandment, not just a promise.
(טז) רַק֮ לֹא־יַרְבֶּה־לּ֣וֹ סוּסִים֒ וְלֹֽא־יָשִׁ֤יב אֶת־הָעָם֙ מִצְרַ֔יְמָה לְמַ֖עַן הַרְבּ֣וֹת ס֑וּס וַֽה' אָמַ֣ר לָכֶ֔ם לֹ֣א תֹסִפ֗וּן לָשׁ֛וּב בַּדֶּ֥רֶךְ הַזֶּ֖ה עֽוֹד׃
(16) Moreover, he shall not keep many horses or send people back to Egypt to add to his horses, since ה' has warned you, “You must not go back that way again.”
וטעם וה' אמר לכם כי השם אומר לכם שלא תוסיפון לשוב בדרך מצרים וכן כאשר צוך ה' אלקיך (דברים ה׳:ט״ז) שהוא מצוה אותך כן או אמר לכם שאמר לי כן לצוות אתכם כדרך ויאמר משה כה אמר ה' כחצות הלילה וגו' (שמות יא ד) ועל דרך רבותינו (ירושלמי סוכה פ"ה ה"א) כי כאשר ראיתם את מצרים היום לא תוסיפו לראותם עוד עד עולם (שמות יד יג) מצוה ומשה הזכיר וה' אמר לכם שלא תוסיפון לשוב בדרך הזה עוד וכבר פירשתיו (שם) וטעם המצות הזאת מפני שהיו המצרים והכנענים רעים וחטאים לה' מאד כמו שאמר (ויקרא יח ג) כמעשה ארץ מצרים אשר ישבתם בה לא תעשו וכמעשה ארץ כנען וגו' והנה רצה ה' שלא ילמדו ישראל ממעשיהם והכרית בכנענים כל נשמה (דברים כ׳:ט״ז) ואמר (שמות כג לג) לא ישבו בארצך והזהיר במצרים שלא נשב אנחנו שם בארצם:
SINCE THE ETERNAL HATH SAID UNTO YOU. The meaning thereof is that “since G-d is telling you that you are henceforth not to return by the way of Egypt.” Similarly, as the Eternal thy G-d ‘commanded’ thee which means “as He is thus commanding you.” Or it may be that the expression He hath said unto you means “He had said to me to command you,” similar to the verse, And Moses said, ‘Thus saith the Eternal: About midnight etc.’ And by way of our Rabbis, the verse, for whereas ye have seen the Egyptians today, ye shall see them again no more constitutes a [negative] commandment [for all times], and Moses is thus here reminding them that the Eternal ‘hath said’ unto you [at the Red Sea] that ye shall henceforth return no more that way. I have already explained it. And the reason for this commandment is because the Egyptians and Canaanites were wicked and sinners against the Eternal exceedingly, just as He said, After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan etc. Now the Eternal desired that the Israelites not learn from their deeds and so He ordered that all living things, from among the Canaanites be destroyed, saying, They shall not dwell in thy Land, and he warned with respect to the Egyptians that we are not to settle there in their land.
(ז) וַיְהִ֕י מִקֵּ֖ץ עֲשֶׂ֣רֶת יָמִ֑ים וַיְהִ֥י דְבַר־ה' אֶֽל־יִרְמְיָֽהוּ׃ (ח) וַיִּקְרָ֗א אֶל־יֽוֹחָנָן֙ בֶּן־קָרֵ֔חַ וְאֶ֛ל כׇּל־שָׂרֵ֥י הַחֲיָלִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר אִתּ֑וֹ וּ֨לְכׇל־הָעָ֔ם לְמִקָּטֹ֖ן וְעַד־גָּדֽוֹל׃ (ט) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֔ם כֹּה־אָמַ֥ר ה' אֱלֹקֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֲשֶׁ֨ר שְׁלַחְתֶּ֤ם אֹתִי֙ אֵלָ֔יו לְהַפִּ֥יל תְּחִנַּתְכֶ֖ם לְפָנָֽיו׃ (י) אִם־שׁ֤וֹב תֵּֽשְׁבוּ֙ בָּאָ֣רֶץ הַזֹּ֔את וּבָנִ֤יתִי אֶתְכֶם֙ וְלֹ֣א אֶהֱרֹ֔ס וְנָטַעְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם וְלֹ֣א אֶתּ֑וֹשׁ כִּ֤י נִחַ֙מְתִּי֙ אֶל־הָ֣רָעָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתִי לָכֶֽם׃ (יא) אַל־תִּֽירְא֗וּ מִפְּנֵי֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ בָּבֶ֔ל אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּ֥ם יְרֵאִ֖ים מִפָּנָ֑יו אַל־תִּֽירְא֤וּ מִמֶּ֙נּוּ֙ נְאֻם־ה' כִּֽי־אִתְּכֶ֣ם אָ֔נִי לְהוֹשִׁ֧יעַ אֶתְכֶ֛ם וּלְהַצִּ֥יל אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִיָּדֽוֹ׃ (יב) וְאֶתֵּ֥ן לָכֶ֛ם רַחֲמִ֖ים וְרִחַ֣ם אֶתְכֶ֑ם וְהֵשִׁ֥יב אֶתְכֶ֖ם אֶל־אַדְמַתְכֶֽם׃ (יג) וְאִם־אֹמְרִ֣ים אַתֶּ֔ם לֹ֥א נֵשֵׁ֖ב בָּאָ֣רֶץ הַזֹּ֑את לְבִלְתִּ֣י שְׁמֹ֔עַ בְּק֖וֹל ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶֽם׃ (יד) לֵאמֹ֗ר לֹ֚א כִּ֣י אֶ֤רֶץ מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ נָב֔וֹא אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־נִרְאֶה֙ מִלְחָמָ֔ה וְק֥וֹל שׁוֹפָ֖ר לֹ֣א נִשְׁמָ֑ע וְלַלֶּ֥חֶם לֹֽא־נִרְעָ֖ב וְשָׁ֥ם נֵשֵֽׁב׃ (טו) וְעַתָּ֕ה לָכֵ֛ן שִׁמְע֥וּ דְבַר־ה' שְׁאֵרִ֣ית יְהוּדָ֑ה כֹּֽה־אָמַר֩ ה' צְבָא֜וֹת אֱלֹקֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אִם־אַ֠תֶּ֠ם שׂ֣וֹם תְּשִׂמ֤וּן פְּנֵיכֶם֙ לָבֹ֣א מִצְרַ֔יִם וּבָאתֶ֖ם לָג֥וּר שָֽׁם׃ (טז) וְהָיְתָ֣ה הַחֶ֗רֶב אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתֶּם֙ יְרֵאִ֣ים מִמֶּ֔נָּה שָׁ֛ם תַּשִּׂ֥יג אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וְהָרָעָ֞ב אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּ֣ם ׀ דֹּאֲגִ֣ים מִמֶּ֗נּוּ שָׁ֣ם יִדְבַּ֧ק אַחֲרֵיכֶ֛ם מִצְרַ֖יִם וְשָׁ֥ם תָּמֻֽתוּ׃ (יז) וְיִֽהְי֣וּ כׇל־הָאֲנָשִׁ֗ים אֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֨מוּ אֶת־פְּנֵיהֶ֜ם לָב֤וֹא מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ לָג֣וּר שָׁ֔ם יָמ֕וּתוּ בַּחֶ֖רֶב בָּרָעָ֣ב וּבַדָּ֑בֶר וְלֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֤ה לָהֶם֙ שָׂרִ֣יד וּפָלִ֔יט מִפְּנֵי֙ הָרָעָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֖י מֵבִ֥יא עֲלֵיהֶֽם׃ (יח) כִּי֩ כֹ֨ה אָמַ֜ר ה' צְבָאוֹת֮ אֱלֹקֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ נִתַּ֨ךְ אַפִּ֜י וַחֲמָתִ֗י עַל־יֹֽשְׁבֵי֙ יְר֣וּשָׁלַ֔͏ִם כֵּ֣ן תִּתַּ֤ךְ חֲמָתִי֙ עֲלֵיכֶ֔ם בְּבֹאֲכֶ֖ם מִצְרָ֑יִם וִהְיִיתֶ֞ם לְאָלָ֤ה וּלְשַׁמָּה֙ וְלִקְלָלָ֣ה וּלְחֶרְפָּ֔ה וְלֹא־תִרְא֣וּ ע֔וֹד אֶת־הַמָּק֖וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃ (יט) דִּבֶּ֨ר ה' עֲלֵיכֶם֙ שְׁאֵרִ֣ית יְהוּדָ֔ה אַל־תָּבֹ֖אוּ מִצְרָ֑יִם יָדֹ֙עַ֙ תֵּדְע֔וּ כִּֽי־הַעִידֹ֥תִי בָכֶ֖ם הַיּֽוֹם׃

(7) After ten days, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. (8) He called Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers, and the rest of the people, great and small, (9) and said to them, “Thus said the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your supplication before Him: (10) If you remain in this land, I will build you and not overthrow, I will plant you and not uproot; for I regret the punishment I have brought upon you. (11) Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you fear; do not be afraid of him—declares the LORD—for I am with you to save you and to rescue you from his hands. (12) I will dispose him to be merciful to you: he shall show you mercy and bring you back to-a your own land. (13) “But if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land’—thus disobeying the LORD your God— (14) if you say, ‘No! We will go to the land of Egypt, so that we may not see war or hear the sound of the horn, and so that we may not hunger for bread; there we will stay,’ (15) then hear the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah! Thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: If you turn your faces toward Egypt, and you go and sojourn there, (16) the sword that you fear shall overtake you there, in the land of Egypt, and the famine you worry over shall follow at your heels in Egypt too; and there you shall die. (17) All the men who turn their faces toward Egypt, in order to sojourn there, shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no surviving remnant of the disaster that I will bring upon them. (18) For thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: As My anger and wrath were poured out upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so will My wrath be poured out on you if you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration of woe, a curse-b and a mockery; and you shall never again see this place. (19) The LORD has spoken against you, O remnant of Judah! Do not go to Egypt! Know well, then—for I warn you this day

History of the Temple Porten suggested that the Jews may have come to Elephantine as a military garrison in about the middle of the seventh century BCE, during the reign of Manasseh in Judah, to aid Psammetichus I in his campaigns against Nubia (cf. Lewy and Lewy 1968: 135) and in an attempt to dislodge the over- arching power of Assyria (Porten 1968: 119). This early date would have given the Jewish mercenaries considerable time to get established and set up a communal temple well before 525 BCE. However, it is also possible that the Jews came only after 597 BCE, the date of the first invasion of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, when considerable numbers were exiled (2 Kgs 24:16) or even after 586 BCE, when the Babylonians returned and destroyed the Solomonic Temple. It was then that large numbers fled to Egypt taking the prophet Jeremiah with them (Jer 43:5-7). Such a date still leaves ample time for the Jewish colony to establish itself and build a temple prior to Cyrus' conquest in 525 BCE (Kraeling 1961: 142).

Maimonides of Egypt

.... there is a tradition18 that Maimonides signed his letters saying that he is one who "transgresses three commandments every single day" (the three verses mentioned above). Nevertheless, it seems that this was simply humility on his part, and that it was not actually forbidden,

Quoted in Kaftor Va'ferach, Chapter 5.

See: The Prohibition Against Living in Egypt, Parshat Ki Tavo, By Aryeh Citron

That Berlin has become a city bent on redemption—and that the Jew represents a key figure in this realm—is evident from the city’s “epidemic of Holocaust memorials” and other commemorative practices. Germany, like no other nation in Europe, has undertaken an admirable quest “to come to terms with the past” (Vergangenheits­bewältigung), and in this process, Berlin, where the extermination of the Jews was planned and carried out, takes center stage. The city’s Jewish population has experienced, in the past three decades, a considerable growth in size and diversification. Alongside the native German Jews and the Eastern European Jews who immigrated after the war, Berlin is now home to former Soviet Jews who came after the collapse of the Iron Curtain in the early 1990s, and Israeli Jews who have been relocating here in growing numbers since the turn of the century. Moreover, Jewishness is being staged and celebrated everywhere, from theater to klezmer to Jewish cooking, but this “Jewish revival” often feels less like an act of healing than some novel form of disfigurement—to put it in the words of the poet Paul Celan: “Sie haben mich zerheilt!” (They have healed me to pieces!).

Following more than forty years of photographic storytelling of Jewish life around the world, Frédéric Brenner spent three years exploring Berlin -- a stage for a vast spectrum of expressions and performances of Judaism. In his new photographic essay he portrays individuals -- newcomers, old timers, converts, immigrants and others -- who have made Berlin their home or are just passing through. Via a series of fragmentary insights into this incubator of paradox and dissonance, he reflects on conflicting narratives of redemption and gives light to an ever so present absence. Like a shattered mirror, these images offer a polyphonic, sometimes bizarre and disturbing reflection of and on a topography of displacement and estrangement in contemporary human condition, far beyond the story of Berlin or of Jews. Exhibition: Jewish Museum Berlin, Germany (03.09. -13.06.2022) / Joods Historisch Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Fall 2022).

“[It] felt like stumbling into a piece of street theater, a drama of redemption fit for one of the city’s famous opera houses, part morality play, part masquerade, part theater of memory—all performed above an abyss. […] Jewishness is being staged and celebrated everywhere, from theater to klezmer to Jewish cooking, but this “Jewish revival” often feels less like an act of healing than some novel form of disfigurement.”

– Frédéric Brenner in his essay on the exhibition ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES