Parsha Perspectives

Torah reading of Shemot

Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel - Chabad of Nashville

 

Lesson Summary:

How to Fight Your Inner Demons

Yaakov’s Choice to be buried near Leah

 

The Ramban writes that one of the chief drivers of people away from faith is the famous question: ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’

The notion that a good G‑d who presumably is just and loving will visit unchecked harm on people for no apparent reason beckons at our deep-seated faith in fairness and justice in the world, and gives us no rest.

This seems to be Moshe’s first question to Hashem in this week’s Parsha; ‘why have You done evil to this people?’

What did the Jews do wrong to deserve such a harsh enslavement in Mitzrayim?

Contrary to the stories of Sefer Bereishis where there seems to be a clear line between evil deed and its consequence - cause and effect - Sefer Shemot begins with an apparently unjustified punishment against innocent people!

Furthermore, asks Moshe, as time goes on it looks as though the punishment gets harsher, rather than lighter, and the Jews’ condition under the hand of their masters deteriorates, rather than improving, as the redemption comes closer.

Why is that?

In a maamar of Reb Hillel Paritcher, we will discover a whole new understanding to golus mitzrayim, which Hashem explains to Moshe in response to his questions.

Sometimes harsh treatment is not a retaliation or a result of poor previous behavior, rather it is a preparation for greatness to come.

This is ever relevant today, as we live in a confusing and conflicting reality; on the one hand we can observe modern day miracles, with torah and Yiddishkeit spreading like never before, Jews are (by and large) safe and respected around the planet; yet simultaneously the world at large seems to descend into newer depths of moral depravity each day, like never before in history…so what’s going on? Which way are we heading?

 

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SHEMOT 5783 – SOURCE SHEET

 

  1. Shemot 5:22-23

22 And Moses returned to the L-rd and he said: O L-rd, why have You done evil to this people [and] why have You sent me!

23 And from the time I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done [increasingly greater] evil to this people, and You have not saved Your people.

  1. Shemot 6:1-3

1 And the L-rd said to Moses: now you shall see — what I shall do to Pharaoh, For with a strong hand he shall send them out, and with a strong hand he shall drive them out of his land.

2 And G‑d spoke to Moses and He said to him: I am the L-rd [Yod-Keh-Vav-Keh]

3 And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as Kel shakkai; but My name Yod-Keh-Vav-Keh I was not realized for them.

  1. Shemot Rabbah 5:22

‘Why have You done evil to this people’ – [Moshe] said before the Holy One Blessed Be He: I took the book of Genesis, and I saw the deeds of the generation of the Great Flood, and how they were then judged…and the deeds of the generation of dispersion (i.e. the generation that built the tower of Babel), and of the Sodomites and how they were then judged…but this people, what have they done to be enslaved from all the previous generations?

And if it is because Abraham our forefather said, “How will I know that I will inherit it?” (Which demonstrated a lack of faith) ... then Esau and Yishmael who were from his children, it is they who should be enslaved, or even the generation of Isaac or Jacob, but not this nation that is in my generation! -?-

  1. Maamar of Rabbi Hillel of Paritch, Ita Bepesikta §3

Loose Translation and synopsis

[Moshe’s] first question ‘why have you done evil”, is a general challenge to the whole concept of exile; meaning that we don’t find the Israelites having committed a sin that is worthy of this punishment.

The second question, ‘And from the time I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name’ is to be understood as follows: why is it that towards the end of the exile when the redemption is awakening, the exile becomes more intense both materially and spiritually, as we see from the verse that says ‘Straw is not given to your servants’. And spiritually too, there had never been a greater affront on the part of Pharoah towards Moshe than to call him a liar, as Pharoah did say ‘Let the labor be heavy on the men and let them do it, and let them not speak false words.’

  1. Devarim 4:20

And you did the L-rd take, and He brought you forth from the iron crucible, from Egypt, to be to Him a people of inheritance as of this day.

  1.  I Kings 8:51

For they are Your very own people that You freed from Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace.

  1. Jeremiah 11:4

which I enjoined upon your fathers when I freed them from the land of Egypt, the iron crucible, saying, ‘Obey Me and observe them, just as I command you, that you may be My people and I may be your God’—

  1. Torah Or 74a

Loose translation

Egypt is the iron furnace, akin to the verse that states ‘For silver—the crucible; For gold—the furnace’ (Proverbs 17:3) …the furnace is where the slags are separated out so that no impurity is mixed in with the gold or silver. Similarly, Egypt acted as a furnace insofar as it purified Israel through the hardship of slave labor with bricks and mortar, thus separating the bad from the good, and ‘all evildoers are scattered’ (Psalms 92:10).

 

  1. Tractate Bava Metzia 85a

When Rabbi Zeira ascended from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael, he fasted one hundred fasts so that he would forget the Babylonian method of studying Gemara, so that it would not hinder him from adapting to the unique style of study prevalent in Eretz Yisrael.

J.  Rashi ad loc.

SO THAT IT WOULD NOT HINDER HIM – When he ascended to the land of Israel to study from the mouth of Rabbi Yochanan, and the amoraim of the Land of Israel were not accustomed to argumentative study and they were smooth [to one another] as oil is, as it written in tractate Sanhedrin (24a), and they would resolve the reasoning without challenges or disproval.

    K.  Hisvaaduyos 5719 vol. 2 p. 197

Loose translation and synopsis

It is a known general rule in kaballah that between one yesh [1] and another, there must be an ayin [2].

An example that illustrates this: When a seed is planted in the ground for a tree to eventually grow from it and bear fruit, there must be a middle phase between the seed’s presence and the growth of the tree, where the seed is wholly absorbed into the soil and it ‘rots’, i.e. it is no longer a seed as it was before. It is precisely in this fashion that the seed arouses the force for growth that lies latent in the soil.

The same is true in the animal kingdom; for an egg to eventually lead to a chick it must first become ‘spoiled’.

The same is true in the human species, whose distinguishing feature is intellect; that as is empirically observable, for a new intellectual capacity to be drawn down from the greater potential for intellectual enlightenment, there must first be a stage of abnegation of all the aspects of the intellect…this is alluded to by the words “[Daniel] was perplexed for a while” in the verse.

L.  Maamar ibid. ch. 16

Loose translation and synopsis

According to the example mentioned earlier, we can now understand the answer that G‑d gave Moshe, since now there is absolute darkness, and the G‑dly force that animates the world is totally concealed, to the point that Pharoah and Egypt can counter and deny the existence of G‑d entirely, and refer to it as a falsehood, G‑d forbid; This is itself indicative of the fact that the new spiritual dimensions of the Ten Commandments have begun emanating on High, and they can be absorbed and internalized in the sphere of daat of the level of Atzilut, and in the seven divine attributes, and can now be revealed below within Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, so that the kelipot will be destroyed.

   M.  Ibid . ch. 23

Therefore the end of the exile is a period of intensified kelipot and heresy, which represents the spiritual war of Gog and Magog, and people will reject the existence of G‑dliness completely.

However, this is the meaning of the verse “I will show wondrous deeds, As in the days when You sallied forth from the land of Egypt.” (Micah 7:15), that is to say that when the concealment over G‑dliness will reach the level that existed prior to the exodus from Egypt, this is a sign that the New Light of the future has already begun revealing itself on High, and thus the previous state of revelation has withdrawn entirely.

And ‘now you will see’ the most sublime and concealed aspects of G‑d will be experienced in actual sight, ‘In that day they shall say: This is our God’ (Isaiah 25:9).

 

[1] Lit. ‘there is’. an entity that exists. Usually in reference to G‑d, who is the ‘yesh ha’amiti’ – the True existence, vis a vis creation which is ‘yesh hanivra’ - the created existence, which is brought into being by another, preexistent entity.

[2] Lit. ‘there is not’. This is a kabalistic term used to describe the vacuum that preceded creation when everything was created ex-nihilo.