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Weekly Chizuk

Parshas Shmos

You Can't Outsmart Hashem

And a man from the House of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. (Shemos 2:1)

"And a man from the House of Levi went." Where did he go? R. Yehudah bar Zevina said, "he went with his daughter's advice."

We are taught that Amram was the greatest sage of the generation. When he saw that the wicked Pharaoh decreed that all the male children should be thrown into the river, Amram said, "Why do we have to sire our children in vain?" He got up and divorced his wife. Everyone followed his example and divorced their wives. His daughter said to him, "Father, your decree is worse than Pharaoh's. Pharaoh only decreed against the boys. You have decreed against both the boys and the girls. Pharaoh only decreed [to kill them] in this world [but they will still live in the World to Come]. You have decreed against them in this world and in the World to Come. [Since they will never be born, they can never attain the World to Come - Rashi.] Pharaoh is an evil man, and it is not certain that his decree will be carried out. But you are a tzaddik, and certainly your decree will be effective."

[Upon hearing his daughter's arguments,] he stood up and remarried his wife. Then everyone stood up and remarried their wives. (Sotah 12a)

The following is adapted from Chofetz Chaim Al Ha-Torah, as cited in Yalkut Lekach Tov, vol. 2, p. 13.

The Chofetz Chaim remarks that this advice of Miriam parallels the advice of the Prophet Yeshayahu to King Chizkiyahu. The king didn't want to marry, having seen in a prophecy that he would have a son who would be terribly evil [King Menashe]. The Prophet Yeshayahu told him, "Why are you getting involved with the hidden secrets of the Merciful One." (Don't start making calculations that go counter to a direct commandment.) Since you are obligated to marry and have children, cease from all reckonings and just do the mitzvah! King Chizkiyahu listened to what the prophet told him. He got married, and one of his descendants was the great King Yoshiyahu, of whom it states, "There was none like him, nor will there be afterwards."

This teaches us an important lesson regarding man and his responsibilities. No one has permission to subject the mitzvos to rational analysis and to perform them according to human outlooks. One must be careful of even the best intentions. Human vision is by nature shortsighted and cannot detect the distant outcome.

The Steipler Rav in Birkas Peretz writes:

Chazal tell us (Sotah 12b) that Pharaoh's astrologers foresaw that there would arise a savior of the Jews to take them out of Egypt - and that Pharaoh and his people were terribly alarmed by this. However, the astrologers also saw that this savior would eventually be punished by water. So Pharaoh immediately decreed that all the male babies should be thrown into the river. He was so worried that he even had the Egyptian children murdered. In the end, not only was Moshe not cast into the river, but he was saved by none other than Pharaoh's own daughter. And if that wasn't enough, Pharaoh, in all his glory, brought up the Jewish child in his own palace! So we see that the chain of events that brought Moshe into Pharaoh's palace began with the decree that all the children be cast into the river. Because of the decree, his mother hid him, and Pharaoh's daughter found him and took him into the palace and raised him like a son.

All of this is meant to teach us that none of man's actions and schemes can move by one inch what has been ordained in Heaven (except teshuvah and tefillah, which have the power to reverse the evil of the decree). Moreover, those same actions that man does to accomplish his desires are liable to be turned into the vehicle for attaining the very opposite. Whatever Heaven has dictated to be, will be. Our job is merely to execute our responsibilities without engaging in unnecessary calculations and rationalizations that are not based on the wisdom of Torah.

Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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