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SLAVERY AND REDEMPTION - BY DIVINE DECREEA new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Yosef. He said to his people, "Behold! The people of the Children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us outsmart them lest they become numerous and it may be that if a war will occur, they, too, may join our enemies, and wage war against us and go up from the land."?(Shemos 1:8-10)
There were three advisors involved in that scheme: Bilam, Iyov, and Yisro. Bilam, who proposed the plan, was killed. Iyov, who kept quiet about it, was punished with torment. Yisro, who ran away, had descendants who reaped the honor of sitting in the Marble Chamber [of the Sanhedrin]...?(Sotah 11a)
The following is from Be'er Yosef by R. Yosef Salant, vol. 1, pp. 6-7, as cited in Yalkut Lekach Tov, vol. 2, p.6.
The Children of Israel were forced to suffer slavery and anguish in Egypt because of the decree of the bris bein ha-besarim. This whole episode provides us with a tremendous lesson when we realize how this prophecy was brought about in a totally unnatural fashion, so that everyone could discern that it was due entirely to Hashem's direct supervision. Pharaoh called a meeting of his "inner cabinet," his three most expert advisors. He was distraught by a major problem and needed a plan. "Behold! The people of the Children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us outsmart them lest they become numerous and it may be that if a war will occur, they, too, may join our enemies, and wage war against us and go up from the land." The natural response of these advisors should have been quite different.
Bilam was known as a very haughty individual. He should have dismissed the king's concern. After all, he was the foremost sorcerer in the world. He could easily have pointed out that it was quite sufficient to rely on his expertise to curse Klal Yisrael and annihilate them from the face of the earth. And yet, not only did he agree with Pharaoh's concerns, he proposed the plan that was intended to eliminate them.
Iyov, on the other hand, was distinguished as a great tzaddik. As the Gemara (Bava Basra 15b) testifies, "Greater is that which is said of Iyov than that which was said of Avraham. Avraham was called 'a God-fearing [person]' [Bereishis 22:12], whereas Scripture characterizes Iyov as, 'a perfect person, upright, and God-fearing, and who turns away from evil' [Iyov 1:8]." He was crowned as a symbol of chesed and generosity, in recognition of his outstanding kindness and compassion. But if so, how could he listen to Bilam's scheme to slaughter the Jewish nation together with its savior - and remain silent? How could he restrain himself when faced with such a cruel plan of throwing little babies into the river?!
And Yisro - a symbol of truth and justice, a priest of Midian - also acted totally out of character. True, the Gemara states that he ran away - but not immediately. Shemos Rabbah (ch. 1) relates that Yisro was still among Pharaoh's advisors when Pharaoh's daughter's young adopted child (Moshe) took off the king's crown and tried it on for size. Pharaoh, a very superstitious person in a very superstitious society, became very apprehensive. Yisro advised the king to test the child with a choice between gold and hot coals, to see which he would choose. (The young Moshe reached out to grasp the gold. But an angel diverted his hand and he grabbed a hot coal instead. A reflex reaction caused him to put his hand in his mouth, and thus the child Moshe burned his tongue, which impaired his speech.) We see from this story that Yisro was still in Egypt a few years after it was decreed to throw the babies into the river.
That is remarkable! How could a person so renowned for justice and truth have been able to withstand the irrationality and injustice of Bilam's scheme?
All of this is meant to teach us that when the Almighty wanted to bring about the decree of exile, he made the wisest of men into fools. Bilam gave advice in total contradiction to his egotistical and haughty nature; Iyov the tzaddik remained silent even in the face of outrageous atrocities; even Yisro held his tongue for a long period, which totally belied his integrity and his upright nature. There is no plan that can succeed against the will of God. What we learn from this is that the whole chain of events that formed the background to the enslavement came about totally and absolutely through Hashem's very specific supervision.
This parallels the statement of our Sages in Bereishis Rabbah (44:13):
"You should definitely know [ידוע תדע] that your seed will be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall serve them, and they shall afflict them, for four hundred years [Bereishis 15:13]." You should know [this we learn from ידוע] that I will enslave them, and you will know [תדע] that I will redeem them.
Study of the history of the enslavement of the Israelites and how it evolved in total contradiction to reason and logic brings us to the realization that Hashem alone brought all this about. From this we will also realize that Hashem alone redeemed them. All efforts and human strategy can have no effect; the redemption comes totally from Hashem.
Let us analyze the redemption. Of course everything that happened - all the signs and wonders, the ten plagues, and the splitting of the sea - were totally miraculous and supernatural. But even the fine details are one long chain of unnatural - or to be more exact, supernatural - events. Take the account of Moshe Rabbeinu, the redeemer of the people of Israel.
First of all, his mother was 120 years old when he was born. He was then hidden on the river in order to save him from the decree of death issued by Pharaoh against Israelite male babies. From there he was rescued by none other than the daughter of Pharaoh - the same king who instituted the deadly decree. Then he was returned to his mother to be nursed. He was raised in the house of his father, who was one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish People. This gave him the pretext that allowed him to visit his family and study with his father even after he was weaned.
This is what we said above. Just as the enslavement was totally supernatural, the entire chain of events leading to the redemption was likewise entirely under direct Divine supervision.
The following is from Moreshes Avos vol. 2, p. 65, citing Tenuas Ha-Musar.
R. Yisrael Salanter had the total and absolute conviction that Heaven directs everything. Even a person's illness has a spiritual basis. When that cause is gone, the illness disappears.
When R. Yisrael went to Germany to consult with some doctors concerning his personal illness, a shamash was sent along to accompany him. However, on the journey the shamash became ill. In an unusual turn of events, they exchanged roles and R. Yisrael became the attendant for his shamash. He cared for him, fed him, and watched over his every need. The shamash, a simple and God-fearing man, was terribly pained that such a great Torah scholar and tzaddik like R. Yisrael should have to attend to his needs. He even considered it a breach of his responsibilities, and he pleaded with R. Yisrael to desist. R. Yisrael stood firm, and explained that it was quite likely that by attending to the shamash he was really benefiting himself. "The ways of hashgachah are hidden," R. Yisrael explained. "Who knows? Perhaps my own illness came about in order that I should now care for you. Hashgachah declared that you should fall ill. But since there was no one to take care of you, Hashem - the cause behind all causes - caused me to fall sick. Baruch Hashem, there are enough people to care about me. And they hired you to accompany me on my journey. But this was all in order to create this opportunity for me to help you during your illness. It is quite possible that, after you recover, the original cause, ill health, will have disappeared, and I will be miraculously cured."
This is from Shiurei Da'as by R. Yehudah Leib Bloch zt"l (formerly Rosh Yeshivah of the Telshe Yeshivah), vol. 3, p. 53, as cited in Yalkut Lekach Tov, vol. 1, p. 53, and Moreshes Avos vol. 2, p. 65.
There were two relatives in the city of Telz who ran similar business enterprises. After a few years in business, they decided that it would be better for both of them to move their enterprises to a larger city nearby. There, they thought, they would have more opportunities for their businesses to grow and prosper.
One of the two had an extremely easy time in relocating quickly. And, as anticipated, his business started flourishing, bringing in handsome profits. The other, however, couldn't seem to get things moving. Nothing he did worked out. He suffered greatly from the whole affair, and was extremely jealous of his now wealthy relative.
A few months later World War I broke out. All of the Jewish residents of that large city near Telz were forced to leave. The Jewish businessman who had so recently settled in was forced to flee to Russia. His business collapsed, and because of all the aggravation and grief they had suffered, his wife and children died, leaving him a broken man.
The second relative, who had been so jealous, was left in Telz undisturbed. Suddenly, with the influx of refugees from the war, his luck turned and his business started picking up remarkably. What had appeared to be a terrible calamity, turned into his good fortune.
We find many examples similar to this. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to establish the following principle in our hearts: excessive reliance on various strategies and schemes indicates a deficiency of the emunah and bitachon that a Jew should have.
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Yeshiva Gedolah Medrash Chaim
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood). You can access Rav Parkoff's Chizuk Sheets online:
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