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“And Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Go to Par’oh; for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, so that I can put these signs of Mine in his midst. And that you may relate in the ears of your son, and of your grandson, that I made a mockery of Egypt and My signs that I placed among them; that you may know that I am Hashem’” (Shemos 10:1-2).
The Ramban zt”l quotes a Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 13:4): “‘And that you may relate in the ears of your son,” The Holy One, Blessed is He, let it be known to Moshe what plague He was about to bring upon them, and Moshe hinted at it when he wrote ‘And that you may relate in the ears of your son, and of your grandson,’ this implies the plague of locusts about which it is written (Yoel 1:3), ‘Tell you your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation’”
Further on (Shemos 10:14), the Ramban quotes Rabbeinu Chananel in his commentary on the Torah: “From the time of Moshe’s prayer (that the locusts should leave Egypt) until today, locusts do not cause damage in all of Egypt. And if they come to Israel and cross into Egypt, they do not eat any of the produce there until this very day. And they say that this is a very well-known fact. Come and see, concerning the frogs, he (Moshe) said (Ibid. 8:5), ‘only in the river shall they remain,’ therefore the Altamtzach lingers there until today. But concerning the locusts it says (Ibid. 10:19), ‘Not a single locust remained within the entire border of Egypt.’ And on this it says (Tehillim 105:2), ‘Speak about all of His wonders.’”
In both passages of the Ramban, he mentions that the wonder of the plague of locusts is something which should be spoken about and passed down from generation to generation. Based on this, the Brisker Rav told Rav Mendelson zt”l, the esteemed rav of Moshav Komemiyus, to publicize the miracle which befell their community during one of the Sabbatical years of Shemittah.
Every seventh year in Israel is a Sabbatical, during which it is forbidden to plant or work the land in any way. In many places, farmers search for various leniencies to allow them to work the land somehow. Some of these leniencies are, in fact, quite questionable, but the alternative is too difficult for them to handle since their livelihood for a year is jeopardized. Indeed, those who observe the laws of Shemittah properly are referred to as “The mighty ones, who do His word” (Tehillim 103:20).
Komemiyus is an ultra-Orthodox moshav (a co-operative Israeli settlement) in the south of Israel where the land lies fallow for an entire year. Its inhabitants are truly those “mighty ones” described in the passage above, who keep the laws strictly without any leniencies whatsoever, even the reliable ones.
In the Torah, Hashem promised that His blessing would befall those who keep this mitzvah strictly. And indeed, over the years, Komemiyus has been blessed with many revealed miracles which attest to the status of its inhabitants as firm believers in Hashem and His Providence. The following story took place in the Sabbatical year of 1959.
The fields of Komemiyus were full of vegetables and grass which had been planted the year before. One Friday, the farmers of the Moshav came running to their venerable rabbi in a panic. The sky above was becoming black by day due to hordes of locusts which were alighting on all of the fields surrounding the community. Within seconds, the pests totally devoured entire crops. The people of Komemiyus were horrified. While neighboring farmers would only suffer great monetary loss, since they were not religious and would surely plant again after clearing their fields, these religious ones could not plant until the following year. What would they do, they moaned.
The honored rabbi, who never lost his absolute faith in Hashem, did not falter for a moment. He knew that Hashem would not abandon those who had trusted Him. He told his congregants, as Moshe had told his followers when they stood surrounded by the Sea and the Egyptians in what, too, seemed to be a hopeless situation, “Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform for you today” (Shemos 14:13).
The people really had no choice, for there was nothing that they could do but pray. Everyone stood near his property and watched with horror as the messengers of destruction totally annihilated field after field of the surrounding villages. But, as they stared at the horrific scene, they suddenly realized that, although they were enveloped by the locusts, not one of them crossed any of the borders of Komemiyus and not one single insect entered their land! There was absolutely no rationalization for this spectacular event except that Hashem had fulfilled His promise to bless those who put their trust in Him and Him alone.
The main purpose of the multitude of miracles which Hashem performed in Egypt was to teach us to believe and to trust in Him and His Torah. Our trust is supposed to be absolute and unwavering, in all circumstances, and then His blessing will be absolute too, even if we don’t really merit His help because of other considerations.
As we read these parshios, we are supposed to imagine ourselves living in Egypt and being taken out by Hashem, through His savior, Moshe Rabbeinu. And as we “witness” the events that occur on our behalf, our belief and trust are supposed to be strengthened proportionately. If we go through these weeks properly, we will be privileged to be among those about whom it is written (Tehillim 32:10), “But loving-kindness shall surround him who trusts in Hashem.”
Shema Yisrael Torah Network