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Thought for the Day: Good Midos Must Be Protected

The developers of Modern Hebrew were not among the 36 tzadikim who sustain the world.  In fact, some had significant axes to grind with the Torah world and went so far as to plant k'fira directly into the language.  One of the egregious example I recently encountered their translation of "אגדה" (agada) as "legend".  This is extraordinarily damaging to understanding Chazal.  The aggadita we have contains vitally important information about how to live a spiritually healthy life.  Calling agada "legend" is like calling nutrition "old wive's tales".  [No, honey, I don't dismiss what you say.  What?  No, of course I don't mean you are old.  I mean tales reported in the name of unlearned women of olden times; not at all like our educated and sophisticated wives now a days.  -- And you thought only Mrs. Rema looked over her husband's writings.]

One familiar agada is that Moshe Rabeinu was not allowed to hit the water of the Nile for the plague of dahm/blood, nor the dust for the plague of kinim/lice.  He was not allowed to hit those things because they had protected him early in his life, so it would not be in consonance with the hakaras hatov they were due.  Obviously, water and dust do not have feelings; so what is going on?  That question is obvious and we all know the answer: it is for the impression is makes on us.  It is supposed to inculcate a sensitivity into us.  Is that it?  Reading the story inspires us?

R' Dessler, in fact, makes the question even stronger.  The makkos of dahm and kinim were (according to the S'porno) to educated the Miztri'im in yiras HaShem.  That means that hitting the water and dust would result in a kiddush HaShem of the highest order.  What could possibly be wrong with that?

R' Dessler's answer is incisive and opens up for us what Chazal wanted us to understand.  The kiddush HaShem that would result is a noble, intellectual idea.  However, our midos are affected by the here and now.  Even though Moshe Rabeinu knew intellectually that what he was about to do would result in a kiddush HaShem, there was a present danger that his midos would be affected -- ever so slightly -- by the immediate action: hitting something that had helped him.  Water and dust have no feelings, but a person does.  The cruelty of hitting affects the hitter even when there is no damage to the recipient.  The fraction of a second between the hitting and the kiddush HaShem is not worth it; that fraction of a second could undue years of positive improvements.

Good thing to keep in mind tonight (or next week) when making kiddush over those covered challos.


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