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Sefer Ezra: Part 19 - Intermarriage & Assimilation in Eretz Yisroel
Ezra continues with his first person account of his arrival in Eretz Yisrael.
"When it was finished, the officers approached me, saying, ‘The people of Yisrael, and the Kohanim and Leviim have not separated themselves from the nations of the lands - like the abominations of the Cannani, the Chitti, the Perizi, the Yevusi, the Amoni, the Moavi, the Mitzri, and the Amori. Because they have taken from their daughters for themselves and their sons, and the zera kodesh have been mixed with the nations of the lands, and the officers and the chiefs were involved in this sin first."
Four months after Ezra's arrival, the officers approached Ezra with the news of Bnei Yisrael's wrongdoing. The word because in "because they have taken from their daughters" indicates that the reason that Bnei Yisrael were committing abominations like the goyim was because they had intermarried. The Malbim says that the leaders of Bnei Yisrael did not actually intermarry, but were implicated and held guilty since they do not use their power and influence to condemn and prevent the sinful behavior of those who did. Only a small percentage of Bnei Yisrael had actually intermarried.
"When I heard this matter, I tore my garment and my coat, and I tore the hair from my head and beard, and I sat bewildered. And everyone who trembled at the exile's sin of the word of the G-d of Yisrael gathered to me, and I sat bewildered until the mincha of the evening."
Towards evening, Ezra arose from his fast, fell to his knees, spread out his palms to Hashem, and began davening in front of the crowd which had gathered. He confessed the sins of Bnei Yisrael which began in the days of their forefathers, and caused them to be exiled from their land. He admitted to Hashem's kindness in causing Bnei Yisrael to return to their land and rebuild the Beis Hamikdash, despite the fact that they were not worthy of Hashem's kindness. He expressed his fear that due to the sins of Bnei Yisrael, they will be utterly destroyed unless they repent.
"If we return to transgressing your mitzvohs and intermarrying with the nations of these abominations, will You not be angry at us, and destroy us without a remnant or refuge?
The sin of arayos will cause utter destruction of Bnei Yisrael if it is not properly rectified.
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