I have heard an explanation, that since only 1/5th of the Jews were liberated from Egypt in the Bible, so too only 1/5th of us Jews will survive the eventual redemption. Is this true, and if it is, what source is there for it?

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    – mbloch
    Jul 16, 2019 at 17:36
  • Someone in this video seems to imply one source is the Chofetz Chaim, and Rav Yitzchok Berkovits doesn't correct him
    – robev
    Jul 16, 2019 at 17:49
  • when you say 1/5th will survive it sounds like redemption, but when you say 4/5 will die it sounds like another Catastrophe.
    – Al Berko
    Jul 16, 2019 at 22:13
  • @AlBerko maybe it can be interpreted as relating to intermarriage? I.e., moshiach comes and leads the Jewish people outside of Israel back and only 1/5 are not assimilated at that point? Or is that a stretch to interpret that way in your view? Jul 31, 2019 at 21:10
  • @Mordechai Acc. to הן גאלתי אתכם אחרית כראשית, since in Egypt 80% clearly died that's what expected in the final redemption, isn't it? But who knows...
    – Al Berko
    Jul 31, 2019 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


Sanhedrin 111a

תניא רבי סימאי אומר נאמר ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם ונאמר והבאתי אתכם מקיש יציאתן ממצרים לביאתן לארץ מה ביאתן לארץ שנים מס' ריבוא אף יציאתן ממצרים שנים מס' ריבוא אמר רבא וכן לימות המשיח שנא' וענתה שמה כימי נעוריה וכיום עלותה מארץ מצרים

It has been taught: R. Simai said: It says, And I will take you to me for a people,’ and it is also said, And I will bring you in [unto the land etc.]. Their exodus from Egypt is thus likened to their entry into the [promised] land: just as at their entry into the [promised] land there were but two out of six hundred thousand, so at their exodus from Egypt there were but two out of six hundred thousand. Raba said: It shall be even so in the days of the Messiah, for it is said, And she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the days when she came up out of the land of Egypt.

(Soncino translation)

The Midrash Tanchuma in the beginning of Parshat Beshalach provides the number of 1/5:

וחמשים עלו בני ישראל אחד מחמשה ויש אומרים אחד מחמשים ויש אומרים אחד מחמש מאות רבי נהוראי אומר העבודה לא אחד מחמשת אלפים

And the children of Israel went up armed (chamushim) – one out of five. And some say one out of fifty. And some say one out of five hundred. R. Nehorai says “by golly it was not [even] one out of five thousand!”

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    I can’t say I’ve ever seen העבודה translated as “By golly” before.
    – DonielF
    Jul 16, 2019 at 23:42
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    @DonielF That’s the first expression that popped into my head. I’m open to alternative suggestions, though.
    – Alex
    Jul 16, 2019 at 23:44
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    “I swear by the service”?
    – DonielF
    Jul 16, 2019 at 23:46
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    @DonielF Seems a bit unnatural in English.
    – Alex
    Jul 17, 2019 at 0:00
  • In Sefaria's translation of Mekhilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 13:18 (which is said to be from "Mechilta, translated by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein"), 'העבודה' is translated (when it is translated) as "I swear".
    – Tamir Evan
    Jul 17, 2019 at 3:12

I strongly recommend reading the following source — especially R’ Schwab’s opinion. I first heard R’ Schwab’s opinion from an elderly talmid chacham in my community whom I have great respect for.


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    Could you please edit this answer to include a summary of the information in the article that addresses the question at hand? Here's our general guidance on how to most helpfully cite sources.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 31, 2019 at 20:59
  • The article does not refer to the question as asked. It suggests two possibilities as an answer. 1) That the Jews who died before the Exodus and therefore were never freed made of 80% of the total number of Jews from the entry into Egypt to the Exodus, 2) Those few Jews who died during the Plague of Darkness caused the death (non-existance) of all those who would have been born in the future generations. In any case, this article does not speak of Jews *not making it through the coming of the messiah. Aug 1, 2019 at 0:07
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    – mbloch
    Aug 1, 2019 at 5:53

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