I hope you’ll enjoy the following parsha summary followed by a Dvar Torah;
” Parsha in a Nutshell “
G-d reveals Himself to Moshe. He promises to take out the Children of Israel from Egypt, deliver them from their enslavement, redeem them and acquire them as His own chosen people at Mount Sinai; He will then bring them to the Land He promised to the Patriarchs as their eternal heritage.
Moshe and Aaron repeatedly come before Pharaoh to demand in the name of G-d, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness.” Pharaoh repeatedly refuses. Moshe’s staff turns into a snake and swallows the magic sticks of the Egyptian sorcerers. G-d then sends a series of plagues upon the Egyptians.
The waters of the Nile turn to blood; swarms of frogs overrun the land; lice infest all men and beasts. Hordes of wild animals invade the cities, a pestilence kills the domestic animals, painful boils afflict the Egyptians. For the seventh plague, fire and ice combine to descend from the skies as a devastating hail. Still, “the heart of Pharaoh was hardened and he would not let the children of Israel go; as G-d had said to Moshe.
” Dvar Torah “
This week’s Parsha is packed with miracles, plagues and supernatural events. Water turning into blood; hail pellets with a core of fire; dreadful plagues of frogs, lice, wild beasts, pestilence and boils. G-d through Moshe, performs miracles for the Jews, and brings plagues upon the Egyptians that have never been seen before. But it seems that some people just never learn. For almost a year Pharaoh was literally plagued by every conceivable misfortune, yet he refused to let the Jewish people go. Of course, he pleaded with Moshe during every plague to stop the great inconvenience, pain, and disaster that were befalling his country. He would even beg for mercy and promise to let the Jews go, yet he never admitted guilt. He would plead with Moshe to stop the various plagues. “Pray for me and remove the frogs! I will let you serve your G-d in the desert.” Sometimes he would offer unrestricted freedom, only to go back on his word when the plagues ceased. Never, except on one occasion, did Pharaoh admit that G-d was right and he was wrong.
That exception was the plague of hail. In fact, the plague of hail was so powerful that even Hashem Himself categorized it in a unique way. Moshe, quoting Hashem, said to Pharaoh: “This time I shall send ALL my plagues against your heart, upon your servants, and your people so that you shall know that there is none like Me in the world.” Why did Hashem consider the hail a more powerful act than His turning water into blood, or delivering pestilence, or wild animals or frogs? True, the hail did miraculously contain a fire shield by ice, but all the plagues had miraculous attributes to them. Turning the Nile into blood is not an everyday type of a miracle either! So, what characteristic did the hail have to label it as “all my plagues”?
Even more troubling is Pharaoh’s response. After the plague of hail strikes Egypt, he calls Moshe and Aaron and he tells them, “this time I have sinned, Hashem is righteous and I and my people are the wicked ones!” What caused Pharaoh to utter those soothing words at this particular time? Didn’t he already see blood, frogs, pestilence, boils, wild animals, and a host of different miraculous misfortunes that befell his people? What was so special about the fire and ice falling from the heavens that brought one of the cruelest man on earth down to his knees?
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetsky gives an interesting answer to this question. He says that there are many opposing forces in the world. However, when they work in tandem, they become the most powerful force possible. During this plague, fire and ice, two opposing forces in the world of nature disregarded their differences all in the service of the Supreme Commander, the G-d Almighty. When Hashem announced that He will send ALL of His plagues, he meant that when two conflicting forces work harmoniously together, they have the same power as ALL of the plagues put together!. After that, even Pharaoh was sensible enough, although for a short period of time, to see his imperfection and delusions. When even the worst of men see fire and ice dance together on one mission, there is nothing he can do but watch in amazement and admit, “Hashem is the righteous one and I and my people are the wicked ones.”
Yes my friends, when two opposing forces decide to work together, they create the most powerful force. There is one other place in the Torah which talks about opposite forces. In Parashat Bereshit, when G-d wanted to create Eve, the Torah says, G-d saw that it is not good for a man to be alone, so he created for him, “ezer kenegdo”, which means a helper against or “opposite” him. The Chachamim derive from this Pasuk that men and women are created differently and they might even have opposing ideas. But when they work together and are willing to get along, only then, they will create the most powerful force together! Partnership, whether in marriage or in business, is an excellent idea, but it only works when the two parties are willing to get along and work together despite their differences. And if they do, they’ll produce the most powerful force together!
Radio commentator, Paul Harvey, once related the following story which is another proof of the power of two opposing forces joining together: William and his Aunt Caroline, lived in two mansions adjacent to each other in New York City in the late 1890’s. They were constantly fighting. Actually, William was jealous of his aunt’s popularity and social status. Compared to her, he was considered a social outcast, and was never invited to any of her lavish parties. That would have been bad enough. Having to live next door to her was too much for William to bear. The sight of elegant carriages arriving and departing made him annoyed. Yet he could do nothing. At least he did nothing until the family fortune was distributed and he inherited 100 million dollars. Then he knew what to do. He decided to rip down his mansion and build an enormous hotel. It had 530 rooms, 350 baths, and a whopping 970 employees. It would be the grandest, most elegant guest house of it’s kind. More carriages would pull up to his property in a day then to his aunt’s mansion in a month! Her home would pale in comparison, and the commotion of it all would force her to move.
William was right. Aunt Caroline moved way north of the shadow of her nephew’s hotel. And then, she ripped down her old home. With the 100 million that she received, she too, decided to build a hotel on the site of her old mansion! It would be even more elegant, with nicer rooms and better service than her nephew’s. Two adjacent, competing hotels would have been built right next to each other if not for the wisdom of William’s own hotel manager. He got the two feuding relatives together and explained that hostility is not the way to success.
“With the fierce competition and price war that you are going to have, you would put each other out of business in no time. If you two could just work together and adjoin the two hotels as one, it would become the most outstanding and influential accommodation on earth,” he explained. They listened and followed his instructions. He even advised them to make sure that every opening between the structures could be sealed again in case of a renewed falling-out. But in the end, William Waldorf and his aunt, Caroline Astor decided to put away the locks and leave the openings, open forever. And the world’s most luxurious accommodation was built at the time — The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Shabbat Shalom & Regards;