Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Using This World Efficiently

The second book of our chumash begins with a listing by name of Yaakov Avinu and his 12 .  Rashi tells us that they are beloved to HaShem and likened to the stars that He brings out and takes back in by name (Y'shayahu 40:26).  It was only after that exalted generation was gone that the harsh treatment of Klal Yisrael at the hands of the Miztri'im began, and from there got steadily and progressively worse.  Seems a bit unfair, no?  Here they are in a foreign land, forced their by a famine, and now they are being treated to the worst kind of unfounded xenophobia.  Where is G-d?  Oh... there He is; after things have gotten so bad that their babies are being ripped from their mothers' arms and thrown into the Nile to drown, after decades and decades of backbreaking and fruitless labor, finally, finally... "HaShem heard their groaning and G-d remembered His covenant with Avraham, with Yitchak, and with Yaakov."  (Sh'mos 2:24).  He couldn't have paid attention a few decades earlier?

This is getting heavy... we need a joke.  A guy takes his donkey to the donkey obedience school.  He is handed a two-by-four and a sack of sugar cubes.  He is instructed to stand in front of his donkey, wack him with the two-by-four and give him a command.  If he does as told, give him a sugar cube.  He asks, "So much negative reinforcement?!"  The instructor says, "Oh no!  We don't believe in negative reinforcement at all.  You must only reward when he follows instructions."  "But what about the two-by-four??"  "Oh, that.  First you need to get his attention."

The S'porno notes that the listing of names that begins with Yaakov Avinu and continues through to his children stops there for a reason; the tzadikim of the next generation  were not up to the level of their forebears.  They were not at a lower level because of the harsh treatment of the Mitzri'im, rather the harsh treatment of the Mitzri'im started because the generations were not living up to their potential.  Living a torah life in galus is difficult.  So difficult, says the Chasam Sofer, that we are rewarded with Yom Tov sheini for being diligent about keeping the first day.  Klal Yisrael could have gotten everything their neshama needed out of galus Mitzrayim just by doing mitzvos and living a Torah lifestyle; all in a friendly, albeit foreign, environment.  They could have.. but they didn't, so external forces were imposed and the harsh treatment began.  It could have stopped any time; any time at all.

Why did HaShem wait all the way till pasuk 24 to harken to us?  Because we waited till pasuk 23 to say, "Abba, we need you."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…