"Shalom Aleichem my old friend Reuven. How are you?"
"Baruch Hashem Ephraim. I am so happy that I ran into you today. I would like to invite you to a seudas mitzvah."
"I am so honored. What is the occasion?"
"Not so long ago, I was very sick."
"Through the chessed (kindness) of Hashem I recovered, and am standing here healthy today. Please come to the seudas hoda'ah (feast to give thanks to Hashem) to celebrate this wonderful event."
The night of the seudah arrives, and Reuven's home is full of friends and relatives, who have come to share in his simcha (happy event).
"I would just like to say a few words about the subject of hoda'ah - giving thanks to Hashem. If we were living in the times of the Beis HaMikdash, we would all be eating from the Korbon Todah (Thanksgiving Offering). Parashas Tzav speaks about this offering. Rashi comments (Vayikra 7:11) that four people are obligated to bring a korbon todah: those who have crossed the sea or the desert, those who have been freed from captivity, and those who have recovered from a dangerous illness. Along with this sacrifice, a shir was sung - Mizmor Li'Todah (Tehillim 100).
"The Malbim explains that when Hashem runs the world according to natural laws, He is like a King, sitting in His palace, governing the nation via his officers. When He performs a miracle, and saves someone from a danger, He leaves the palace and goes out amongst the people Himself, to personally govern them. Hashem put my life in danger, and then saved me in a miraculous way. He has shown His hashgacha pratis (personal supervision) over my life. Therefore, I thank Him for caring so much about me. How?
"'Serve Hashem with happiness' (Tehillim 100:2). One who serves a mortal king is not sure if he will receive a reward for his service. Therefore, he is not happy until he receives the reward. The service alone does not give him happiness. On the other hand, one who serves the King of Kings knows that he will be rewarded in full for every deed. Therefore, he is happy while he is working. 'Know that Hashem is G-d; He made us and we are His' (Tehillim 100:3). That knowledge brings a person true happiness."
Kinderlach . . .
Hashem is so kind to all of us. He gives us food, clothing, and shelter every day. He is so dependable, that it is easy to take Him for granted, chas v'shalom (Heaven forbid). Therefore, He needs to wake us up. He puts us into a situation where we clearly see His Hand guiding us. We are saved from danger. We are ecstatically happy. We focus this happiness on Him in thankful praise. Kinderlach let us thank and praise Him all of the time. Say the "Mizmor Li'Todah" prayer every morning with great feeling. "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise . . . For Hashem is good. His kindness endures forever."
"You are driving me crazy little frog! Your croaking is making me deaf! I am going to put an end to you."
With that, the angry Mitzri picked up a big stick and struck the frog with a mighty blow. Much to his surprise, the frog did not die. Rather it multiplied into several frogs, all croaking into the Mitzri's ears.
"You lousy frogs! You can't get away with this! I'll kill you all!"
And so, the Mitzri began angrily striking frog after frog. Each blow only produced more and more frogs, more and more croaking. As the number of frogs grew and grew, the Mitzri's anger grew and grew. And so the plague went. The Mitzrim themselves filled the land of Mitzraim with frogs.
The Steipler, in his sefer Bircas Peretz, points out the irony of the situation. The Mitzrim were disgusted with the tsefardeah, and wanted to kill them. However, they reacted with anger. With each frenzied blow, the frogs increased. They should have seen this and realized that their anger was counterproductive. Not only was it not helping them to get rid of the frogs, rather it was creating more, more, and more frogs. Didn't they realize this? No, because this is the destructive power of anger. It blinds a person to the devastation that it causes. And so, each angry reaction goes like the makkat tsefardeah. A quiet calm approach will allow emotions to slowly cool down. The anger will evaporate and the matter will be settled. However, a heated reaction will only bring another irritated response, just as each fierce blow brought more frogs. Tempers will escalate, and soon the fire engulfs everything. Therefore, the Steipler advises silence as the best response to anger. Time will pass, and the temper will cool. Peace will prevail, and bring along with it Hashem's blessings. As our sages say, "The only vessel which can hold blessing is peace."
Kinderlach . . .
"That's it! I am fed up! I must have told him 1000 times not to do that. I explained to him how it bothers me. He just continues to do it! I am going to scream at him. That will solve the problem." Kinderlach, will screaming really solve the problem? Surely not. It will only bring an angry reaction. That, in turn will provoke more rage. The vicious cycle will just escalate and escalate just as the frogs increased and increased. There is only one way to stop it. Silence. Accept the things you cannot change and calmly deal with the others. You will prevent the plague from spreading. Anger is a makko. Let us not suffer its destructive force.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2010 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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