Materialism, Gog and Magog, Aliyah
"...even in the most materialistic aspects of secular matters one can, and must, completely free one’s self from “Golus Mitzrayim” (subservience to materialism and its limitations)." - Correspondence by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe
I heard that the streets were packed with cars filled with people hunting for boxing day sales. While hoards of shoppers were scouring through malls and big-box outlets, I got to benefit from a relatively empty supermarket making it easier to complete my weekly Shabbos shopping.
Unfortunately, our generation is drenched in materialism. Yes, the material world can – and should – be used to serve Hashem. However, that requires someone to first break their emotional attachment to the immediate perceived pleasure of using the material for it's own means. But this isn't new. The generation leaving Egypt was the blueprint for understanding the final redemption and "Mitzrayim" (Egypt) can be understood as a "subservience to materialism and its limitations". According to Rashi, only one fifth of the Hebrews in Egypt made it out alive. Four fifths died during the plague of darkness. They couldn't break their subservience to materialism and didn't want to leave Egypt.
"Another interpretation: חִמֻשִׁים means “divided by five,” [meaning] that one out of five (חִמִֹשָה) [Israelites] went out, and four fifths [lit., parts of the people] died during the three days of darkness [see Rashi on Exod. 10:22]. — [from Mechilta, Tanchuma, Beshallach 1]" – Rashi on Exodus (13:18)
"Now why did He bring darkness upon them [the Egyptians]? Because there were among the Israelites in that generation wicked people who did not want to leave [Egypt]." – Rashi on Exodus (10:22)
Only 20% of the Israelites left Egypt to receive the Torah at Sinai and become our Jewish Nation. Millions perished due to their attachment to materialism. Considering this a blueprint for the final redemption, what does that mean for our generation? Will we be too busy waiting in line for next generation of smartphones to prepare ourselves spiritually?
For us, making Aliyah represents both a physical and spiritual change. And they reflect each other. We are making an accounting of all of our "things" in order to pack them up and leave. Ultimately, we have to break our emotional attachment to the material so that we think practically about how to become more mobile and transition to a new home with new spiritual potential. In some cases that means reducing our "garbage", but in other cases it means purchasing items in order to achieve the goal. However, in all cases the material is framed within a spiritual context in order to be utilized for our move and not for the purpose of enjoying the material itself. Rabbi Alon Anava recently spoke about this in a rather sharp "wake up call" to all of the sleeping Jews in exile. Rabbi Anava speaks about Aliyah, the final war, and what we should do. Gog and Magog is primarily a spiritual war which, depending on our actions, manifests into the material. And, ending our exile is fundamentally a spiritual state of awareness which requires teshuvah.