Question: Upon returning to Judea, discord continued to surface among the people. At this time, two spiritual leaders appeared: Ezra and Nehemiah.
They took various measures to restore Jewish society, which had already begun to disintegrate, assimilate, and adopt the ethics of their neighbors. Therefore, mixed marriages were banned, instructions were given to abstain from work on the Sabbath (Saturday), and general education of the Torah was introduced, etc.
What is this about? Are these external laws somehow connected to the unity of the people? Surely we are talking about more internal things?
Answer: It speaks about preserving the people. It was necessary to create a society that would be guided by its principles, not the principles of the surrounding nations.
At that time, Jews were surrounded by fairly powerful nations: the Romans, Greeks, Persians, and Egyptians. In our time, these nations and regions fell into relative decline, but then, they were great civilizations that clashed, invaded each other, and competed among themselves. Therefore, the Jews were faced with a problem of how to create a framework for preserving the nation.
The institution of Cohens and Levites (priests) was re-established to train the teachers. This was prior to the construction of the Temple. This is how the education of the whole nation began. Children learned the laws by which their ancestors existed back in the time of Abraham and even Adam.
Question: Were these laws not observed before that?
Answer: They were observed, but gradually everything was forgotten, swept away by the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian captivity, etc. It was necessary to restore them again.
But the most important thing was the rebirth of closeness between the Jews. If any nation lived on their own were left without any authority, they would still know how to exist. But the Jewish people do not because the 70 roots of the ancient Babylonian nations that they come from began speaking through them. Therefore, a method of connection between the people had to be introduced. This is what Ezra and Nehemiah were doing.
Naturally, everything was no longer in the form that it was during Abraham or Moses, when he led the people through the desert from Egypt to Israel, or Joshua, when entering the Land of Israel. Everything was on a different, lower, more simplified level.
But still, they taught the people these very laws, literally from the very beginning, since the transmission of spiritual knowledge from generation to generation was disrupted due to Babylonian and Egyptian exiles.
Also, the nation that went into exile was no longer holy. There was discourse and fighting among them, they did not want to observe any social rules, even somewhat “loving your neighbor.” Thus, the exile occurred.
Therefore, they had to be educated all over again, which is what Ezra and Nehemiah did. This was a practical resurrection of the nation.
From KabTV’s “Systematic Analysis of the Development of the People of Israel,” 7/8/19