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(Adapted from Reb Sholom's Hagadah - Rav Sholom Schwadron)
ìÈëÅï àÁîÉø ìÄáÀðÅé éÄùÒÀøÈàÅì àÂðÄé ä' åÀäåÉöÅàúÄé àÆúÀëÆí îÄúÌÇçÇú ñÄáÀìÉú îÄöÀøÇéÄí åÀäÄöÌÇìÀúÌÄé àÆúÀëÆí îÅòÂáÉãÈúÈí åÀâÈàÇìÀúÌÄé àÆúÀëÆí áÌÄæÀøåÉòÇ ðÀèåÌéÈä åÌáÄùÑÀôÈèÄéí âÌÀãÉìÄéí: åÀìÈ÷ÇçÀúÌÄé àÆúÀëÆí ìÄé ìÀòÈí åÀäÈéÄéúÄé ìÈëÆí ìÅàìÉ÷Äéí åÄéãÇòÀúÌÆí ëÌÄé àÂðÄé ä' àÁìÉ÷ÅéëÆí äÇîÌåÉöÄéà àÆúÀëÆí îÄúÌÇçÇú ñÄáÀìåÉú îÄöÀøÈéÄí:
Therefore say to the people of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their slavery, and I will redeem you with a outstretched arm, and with great judgments; And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Shmos 6:6,7)
The Chazal identify in this possuk 4 Terms of Geula. They derive from here that there were 4 different issues in the redemption of Klal Yisroel from Mitzrayim. When we study this we see that they are four steps, one after the other. First came the cession of the terrible burden that Egypt had put on the Jews. Second was the actual termination of the work and slavery. Third was when they left the land of Egypt and were no longer under control of the Mitzrayim. And fourth and final, was the actual Geula through Kabbolas HaTorah when we became the Nation of Hashem, and we entered Eretz Yisrael.
Now, the real essence of the Golus was not the physical enslavement, but the spiritual bondage. This is expressed in the Bircas Hageula in the Haggaddah: åÀðåÉãÆä ìÀêÈ ùÑÄéø çÈãÈùÑ òÇì âÌÀàËìÌÈúÅðåÌ åÀòÇì ôÌÀãåÌú ðÇôÀùÑÅðåÌ, áÌÈøåÌêÀ àÇúÌÈä ä' âÌÈàÇì éÄùÒÀøÈàÅì: "And we shall thank You with a new song for our redemption and for the deliverance of our souls." Therefore, it must be that just like the physical redemption was in stages, step after step, so too the spiritual redemption had 4 stages. Perhaps we can expound a bit on this to explain the stages of the Geula HaRuchnis - the Spiritual Redemption.
The first stage was, "I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians." We can understand physical burden, but what was the spiritual burden?
The word for burden in the Torah is ñáìåú (sivlos). This is related to the word ñáìðåú (savlonus) which means patience. (Even in English we find a relationship between the two words. ñåáì in Hebrew translates as "bearing" a burden. ñáìðåú in Hebrew translates as "forbearing" which means to be patient, to bear people and situations.) Now patience is a wonderful trait; it is wonderful to have a lot of patience for people. But that is only in regard to others. Patience is also wonderful regarding one's material existence; one shouldn't blow up over everything that doesn't go one's way. Also, don't be so "fired up" about Olam Hazeh. Keep your cool and your serenity.
But spiritual patience? That's not admirable. That's an illness! It's a terrible and life-threatening infection that can destroy one's spirit. To be patient when something is religiously wrong is awful. If you understand that something is wrong, get up and do something about it!
So, we will have to illustrate a bit more vividly what ñáìðåú is regarding the spiritual realm.
A Chassidishe Rebbe once instructed one of his Chassidim to learn the Mesillas Yesharim. When he had finished, the rebbe asked him, "What good midah did you learn from this sefer?"
With a broken heart the chossid answered him, "I went through the entire sefer and I only picked up one good habit - ñáìðåú - forbearance! Already from the first chapter the Mesillas Yesharim worked hard to stir me up. But I remained calm… The Mesillas Yesharim yelled at me in the second chapter… but I kept my cool…. This kept up until the end of the sefer. In spite of all the reprimands of the Mesillas Yesharim, I retained my patience. I had ñáìðåú the entire sefer!"
Nu! Do you understand yet? … OK. Let's try another moshol.
R. Naftali Rupshitzer, zt"l, was a great Chassidish Rebbe. He was a talmid of the Lubliner Rebbe. The Lubliner had a special affection for R. Naftali. R. Naftali used to "joke" quite a bit - but the Rebbe's jokes were cover-ups for very deep thoughts. They say that when R. Naftali Rupshitzer was about to pass on to the next world he lifted his hands up to shomayim and said, "Ribono Shel Olam, You know that I never said one joke my whole life, chas v'sholom."
When R. Naftali was young, he once went in to his rebbe crying uncontrollably. The rebbe asked him, "Naftal'ke, What happened? Why are you crying?
"What can I do. Someone came over and started rebuking me. He threw at me the most terrible insults. Really terrible!" he answered him, as he continued crying with a broken heart.
"What? He really humiliated you so much? So what did you do to him?"
R. Naftali responded, "I hugged and kissed him!"
The Rebbe looked at him. "Oh, you're such a big tzaddik? He humiliated you with the worst insults and you hugged and kissed him? Tell me, who was he?"
R. Naftali lowered his eyes and said in a whisper, "He was the Mesillas Yesharim!"
OK. Did you get it now? That's how to learn mussar. You have to hug and kiss the sefer!
That is what happened in Mitzrayim. We sunk into the defilement of Mitzrayim. We had a spiritual falling that took hold in everyone's hearts. And the people of Israel got used to the terrible situation as their ruchnius slid quickly downhill and they remained "cool". Spiritually they became "walking dead men." You can't do very much with such people, so the Creator promised us that the first thing He will do is "I will take you out from under the forbearing of Mitzrayim." I first have to heal you from this terrible illness - the illness of being spiritually patient!
And so it happened. Klal Yisrael were cured of the malady of savlonus. The saw all the plagues, the Exodus from Mitzrayim, the splitting of the sea and the other miracles that happened. Finally they stood at Har Sinai and received the Torah and with this they left the 49 levels of tumah. They were lifted up to the 49th gate of kedusha. They were transformed into the generation that received the holy Torah, even though all this transpired in such a short amount of time. A few weeks ago they had been cool and cold to anything spiritual, and now they were full of emotion and fire - they had been elevated. This is pshat in "I will take you out from under the forbearing of Mitzrayim." He took us out of the tolerance into which we had sunken in Mitzrayim.
That's the first stage. A person has to wake up and his spiritual heart has to start beating again - that heart of stone that had gotten used to being cool and complacent starts feeling. Now comes the second stage - the healing process. This is the stage of "and I will save you from their slavery."
The possuk in Parshas Bo states, "Pull and buy for yourselves sheep for your families and slaughter the Passover sacrifice" (Shmos 12:21). Chazal reflect on the word "pull" and interpret that it implies "Pull your hand from avoda zara. Of course there is the simple pshat, that Klal Yisroel in Mitzrayim had become defiled by avoda zara and had to be weaned away from it. What was this avoda zara? Chazal have told us regarding the possuk "There shall be to you no false god" (Tehillim 91:10) that this refers to the false god within you - the yetzer hora (Shabbos 95). This was the second stage. "I will save you from their slavery" means that we had to remove ourselves from the evil and bad middos that had become stuck to us in Mitzrayim. This was "Pull your hand from avoda zara slavery," remove yourselves from the foreign god within you - the yetzer hora.
But what does that have to do with us? We don't worship idols? True. But there is another type of avoda zora that is found within each and every one of us. It is an idol that everyone worships. The Targum translates this as ôåìçðà îöøàé - the Egyptian worship. Meaning: a person has to realize that isn't the best, he has many desires which aren't exactly kosher, but at least don't make an avoda zora out of this, don't worship your desires.
You've been to a chasuna, of course. Even before the chupa is finished there are individuals who are already in the wedding hall making sure they have a seat for the first course. Their heads are sunk, first and foremost, in food.
There are others who hold themselves back and wait until the chupa finishes and they can give their mazal tov's. But they hurry to find an empty seat and lean the chair against the table as a sign that this spot is reserved for….
There's nothing wrong with this. Everything is kosher lemehadrin min hamehadrin. But it has become their "worship" - this was the "worship of Egypt."
I once was observing a person whom the waiter had missed. He seemed overcome with a mania. He grabbed his plate and ran after the waiter. When he finally returned with a plate full to the brim he passed by. I mentioned to him, "What? Don't you have chicken in your house? What's the rush?!"
He answered perplexedly, "Reb Sholom, but it's a seudas mitzvah!" That's how far our idol worship has gone. He didn't even realize how low he had sunken.
"And I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments." Chazal tell us that this relates to Krias Yam Suf, the splitting of the Sea. That is where Yisroel gained a genuinely tangible emuna. They could actually point with their fingers and say, "This is my God and I will adore Him." The lowliest maidservant saw at the Sea what even the Navi Yechezkel wasn't privilege to witness. The term "redeem" denoting Krias Yam Suf refers to emuna.
All the plagues and wonders that Klal Yisroel saw revealed an awesome hashgacha pratis. By Krias Yam Suf, however, they attained at very high pinnacle of emuna. "and they believed in Hashem and in Moshe, His servant."
This attainment of emuna didn't come randomly when it did. It required the first two steps of "I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their slavery." First we had be taken out of the spiritual "coolness" and saved from the idol worship of bad character. Only then can a person attain emuna.
Emuna is really very simple. You don't have to be a professor of woodwork in order to understand that a table cannot be made without a carpenter - so too the world cannot exist without a Creator. So what is it? The person "doesn't want" to understand. It is very hard for a person to accept any inkling in emuna because this little inkling, as small as it is, obligates him in mitzvos. He is a slave to his desires, and he cannot for the life of himself break away from their shackles.
Therefore, Yisroel had to first be freed from the enslavement the "patience" of Egypt and the "worship" of the lowly desires. Then naturally they could elevate themselves to the next stage - emuna. It is merely ones bad middos and lusts that stand in the way of his attaining emuna.
Anyone who has struggled with this and succeeded realizes that the difficulty doesn't lie in the lack of clarity. It is simply one's enslavement to his material lusts that stand in the way.
This is pshat in the possuk: after being "saved from their slavery," after leaving the enslavement of bad middos and lust, the next stage happens automatically: we are "redeemed" - we attain full emuna standing in front of the splitting of the Sea.
The fourth term of geula is "And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God." This is the finale, the finishing touches on the Redemption of the Bnei Yisroel - the People of Israel. The Rishonim explain that this is referring to Kabbolas HaTorah - the purpose of Yetzias Mitzrayim, as we see from Hashem's instruction to Moshe, "When you take the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain" (Shmos 3:12).
Now we have to understand. The first 3 terms are distinctly expressions designating "geula" - redemption from a difficult state of affairs. They can be labeled a language of geula. "I took you out" from the suffering; "and I saved you" from the labor; "and I redeemed you" from the Land of Mitzrayim to freedom. But what is meant by "and I will take you"? What kind of misfortune were they in now that they still required a geula? They had already been liberated. So we must take this word in its full context: "And I will take you to me for a people." This refers to Kabolas HaTorah - accepting the Torah. But what kind of geula is there in this terminology that it is listed in the terms representing geula? What kind of geula was this? The Midrash details that the 4 terminologies of geula were in reponse to 4 decrees that Pharaoh decreed against Klal Yisroel. What was the fourth decree that the geula was coming to rectify? The Midrash states (Shmos Raba 5:21) that after the first time that Moshe and Aharon had come to Pharaoh to demand the Jews' release from bondage, Pharaoh were incensed. In response he said, "Let the labor fall heavy upon the men and let them work at it, and let them not talk about false matters." He ordered that they should not be given straw. This was the 4th decree.
This implication from the possukim is that this was the harshest of all the decrees. And so derives the Mesillas Yesharim: This is one of the clever devices of the evil inclination - to mount pressure unrelentingly against the hearts of men so as to leave them no leisure to consider and observe the type of life they are leading. For the yetzer realizes that if they were to devote even a slight degree of attention to their ways, there is no question but that they would immediately begin to repent of their deeds and that regret would wax in them until they would leave off sinning altogether. It is this consideration which underlay the counsel of the wicked Pharaoh in his statement (Shmos 5:9), "Intensify the men's labors..." His intention was not merely to deprive them of all leisure so that they would not come to oppose him or plot against him, but he strove to strip their hearts of all thought by means of the unremitting, never-ending nature of their labor.
Already at the beginning of the bondage Pharaoh had such intentions. "Come, let us make a strategy against them.' He planned to make sure they didn't have a second to rest so that they should not have time to organize a counter strategy against him. But now he intensified the decree seven-fold and piled on the work to numb their minds and senses through exhausting and unrelenting work. This would for certain prevent the Children of Israel any ability of contemplation. It was as if their heart were put into a high security jail to prevent them from thinking about anything.
This decree prevailed 7 days a week Previously they had the privilege of a bit of rest on Shabbos. They could sit down and relax with their holy scrolls describing Hashem's promise that He would redeem them, generating a deep sigh. But now even this was gone. All they had was a double dose of work.
This enslavement of their spirit left its impression upon them long after they had been freed from the physical bondage and left Egypt. This terrible debaseness implied total bondage and imprisonment of their minds. They felt no connection to the geula and redemption until the promise was fulfilled: "And I will take you to me for a people" through Kabolas HaTorah. Only by accepting upon oneself the "Yoke of Torah" can one free himself of the "yoke" of this golus. Only one who toils in Torah is a truly free man. Only the study of Torah had the power to liberate Klal Yisroel from the shattered spirit caused by the terrible degradation of the enslavement in Mitzrayim. It was able to return to them the power of contemplation that they had lost. This was the fourth level of geula - the geula of the spirit.
Bitachon Creates Miracles
(Excerpts from Trust Me! and Chizuk!)
And God said to Moshe, "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Children of Israel to go."?(Shemos 14:15)
(Based on the Or HaChaim's commentary on the Torah)
Imagine the scene: The Jewish People are gathered at the edge of the sea. Behind them is the mighty Egyptian army, relentlessly advancing on them. The situation is getting more desperate by the minute, and there is nowhere to turn. At this dark hour, Moshe turns to Hashem in heartfelt supplication. The Almighty's startling response is, "Why are you praying to Me?!"
Incredible! To whom should one pray if not Hashem - and especially at such a difficult time as this?! And if one's prayers are not answered, he should continue to pray until he sees some sign that his prayers have been accepted. Logically, we would have expected God to answer Moshe's prayer by instructing him to lift up his staff and split the sea. Instead, He told him to stop praying! What is the meaning of this?
Furthermore, what did God mean by His pronouncement: "Tell the Children of Israel to go"? Go where? Behind them were the Egyptians, and in front of them was the sea, which had not yet split open.
In answering these questions, the Or Ha-Chaim teaches us a very important principle in life. Chazal tell us that when the Jewish People were standing before the sea, they were on trial in Heaven. The prosecuting angels claimed that the Children of Israel were not worthy of being saved. While in Egypt, they had begun worshiping idols just as the local inhabitants did. "These [the Jewish People] are idol-worshipers, and these [the Egyptians] are idol-worshipers!" (Zohar, Terumah, 170b). Moreover, the Jews had just shown their lack of faith in God by saying that they would rather go back to Egypt than die in the desert.
How does one win a case in the Heavenly court? Normally, the side of rachamim (mercy) is strengthened by the good deeds one performs. However, the Jewish People's idolatry had just the opposite effect, and gave strength to the side of din (strict judgment) instead. Hashem wanted to judge Israel favorably, but He saw that the power of Heavenly mercy was very weak.
In order to bolster Israel's Heavenly standing, Hashem gave Moshe a potent piece of advice: "Why are you crying out to Me?" It's not in My hands. Even though I want to perform a miracle, the force of strict judgment is preventing Me because they are not worthy. Therefore, "tell the Children of Israel to go." This is My advice to strengthen the side of rachamim. Speak to the Jewish People and tell them to rely on their emuna by going into the sea even before it splits. Tell them to have faith with every fiber of their being so that I will perform a miracle for them, to match their willingness to endanger their lives. By doing so, they will strengthen the side of rachamim. Because of their actions, the sea will miraculously split. Such is the power of emuna and bitachon to tip the scales to the side of merit; they are such tremendous forces that they can overturn midas ha-din.
* * * R. Chaim Volozhin in Nefesh HaChaim (section 1, ch. 7-9) explains this episode in a slightly different manner:
First, we have to give a short introduction to the first section of Nefesh HaChaim. Rav Chaim Volozhin, elaborates on a basic precept in the foundation of the world: Man's partnership with Hashem. The possuk says: "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him" (Bereishis 1:27); "…for in the image of God He made man" (Bereishis 9:6). What is the meaning of "in the image of Hashem"? Do we really look like Him? Or does He look like us? That, we know, is utterly absurd. He has no image. And anyone who ascribes a material image to the Almighty is guilty of the heresy of anthropomorphism. Hashem is totally spiritual, and has no material form. All characteristics associated to Hashem are metaphors and figures of speech for our benefit to enable us to relate to Him. The commentaries tell us that all we can know about HaKadosh Baruch Hu are the attributes with which He relates to us, such as lovingkindness, mercy, justice, etc. But we can have absolutely no concept of Him Himself. He is beyond that. So what is this image of God?
The Nefesh HaChaim explains that the term used to denote Hashem in that possuk is Elokim. This term indicates Hashem's total control of the universe. He is the ultimate power ruling over millions upon millions of forces that influence every detail of this world. When He created Man, God gave him the ability to rule (so to speak) over those millions of forces. Man controls the world together with Hashem. By his good deeds, the world is influenced toward good; by his bad deeds toward the opposite. Thus, Man has been made a partner (so to speak) with Hashem. And therefore, Man was the only creature given free will. It is this quality of freedom of choice that enables Man to spiritually improve himself or lower himself. Angels and animals are compelled by their nature and cannot decide anything based upon free will; Man is the only creation with this ability. And because Man is partner with Hashem, through his actions he controls the world to add or detract from its spiritual perfection.
It says in Shir Hashirim, ìÀñËñÈúÄé áÌÀøÄëÀáÅé ôÇøÀòÉä ãÌÄîÌÄéúÄéêÀ øÇòÀéÈúÄé "I compare you, O my love, to a horse of the chariots of Pharaoh" (1:9). This is a very strange possuk. Imagine saying to your wife you're like one of Pharaoh's horses, what would she think of you? Not very romantic.
So Rav Chaim Volozhin explains that we have to understand that Shir Hashirim is a love poem between Hakadosh Baruch Hu and Klal Yisroel. In this possuk Hashem is describing His great love for Yisroel and one of the remarkable gifts He gave us. Normally a rider controls the horse. The horse is guided by the rider; where the rider wants to go, that is where the horse goes. By Krias Yam Suf the tables were turned. The Egyptians had chased Klal Yisroel into the open sea-bed. All of a sudden the water, which had been upright like a wall, started falling. The riders pulled the horses to retreat and escape. But the horses all decided to go straight ahead, into the water. In this instance nature reversed itself and the horse controlled the rider.
This is the moshol the Ribono Shel Olam tells his beloved Klal Yisroel. When I created the world I was the ruler. But then I put you in charge. Instead of Me directing you, you have control over Me! This is the marvelous aspect of áöìí àì÷éí. Hakadosh Baruch Hu put Klal Yisroel in charge of all the powers of the Universe. We, so to speak, act like Elokim controlling the Universe.
And so it all depends upon us. The nature of the Universe reflects Klal Yisroel. If we are acting properly, then the entire Universe, spiritual and physical, follows accordingly. All of nature does what it is supposed to do. But if we are acting improperly, then the entire Universe acts accordingly and everything is tarnished and imperfect.
This is the meaning of ä' öÄìÌÀêÈ òÇì éÇã éÀîÄéðÆêÈ "Hashem is your shadow by your right side" (Tehillim 121:5). A shadow does whatever the person does. If the person moves right, the shadow moves right. So too does Hakadosh Baruch Hu act with Klal Yisroel. In whatever direction Yisroel go, so acts Hashem. It is, so to speak, as if He is guided by our actions. This is the moshol of Shir Hashirim. You might think that Hashem is the rider and we are the horse and so He guides us. No, says Shlomo Hamelech. Even though He is the rider, we guide Him.
With this Rav Chaim Volozhin explains the possuk by Krias Yam Suf: "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Children of Israel to go." This possuk is telling us that everything depended upon them. If they were to display perfect emuna and bitachon by fearlessly going into the sea, then the sheer power of their faith would cause the waters to split before them. Their faith alone would arouse Heaven to perform a miracle for them. This was the message that Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu, standing there by the Yam Suf. Why are you crying out to me? It doesn't depend upon me, it depends upon you! If you show such strong faith and bitachon that you are willing to jump into the sea, then I will conduct Myself accordingly and split the sea. It all depends upon you. Bitachon has the power to create miracles.
I heard in the name of one of the Masters of Chassidus a pshat the coincides with this Nefesh HaChaim. We say in Adon Olam: àãåï òåìí àùø îìê áèøí ëì éöéø ðáøà "Master of the World Who ruled before any creature was created." Simple pshat (and it is correct) is that this is an expression of Hashem was King, is King, and will be King forever. But we can also detect a deeper pshat: Master of the Universe, You ruled before Man was created. But once Man was created, now Man rules.
Wishing everyone a Chag Kosher v'Sameach!
© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Yeshiva Shaare Chaim.
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood).
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