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Thought for the Day: You Either Take Control of Yourself or You Are Part of the System

Here are two ways to describe how you drive a car.  One: press on the accelerator pedal to go faster, press on the brake pedal to go slower, turn the steering wheel when you want to change direction.  Two: when you press on the accelerator pedal, the throttle valve opens to increase the rate of air flow into the piston cylinders and the ECU (engine control unit) increases of the rate of fuel to match the increased air flow, the valves in the engine allow in a measured quantity of fuel/air mix, which is then ignited by the ignition system, resulting in a controlled explosion that pushes down on the piston, which in turn pushes on the piston rod, which in turn pushes on the crankshaft, which converts that translational motion into rotary motion, which turns a shaft in the transmission, which adjusts for speed and torque to transfer that motion the wheels, upon which are rubber tires that push back on the pavements, translating that rotational motion back to a translational motion propelling your vehicle forward (or backward, depending on the transmission setting).  That's just for "going", and that's just an overview.  (If you like the second explanation and are chalashing for more, then maybe you want to learn kabala; kabala is that detailed explanation of how things happens under the hood.)

In any case, bottom line is we are talking about driver and vehicle.  Sometimes we are interesting in the details of how the car is getting its job done, but usually our only interest is in "the car" as a unit.

The greatness of Mitzrayim was that they were self-sufficient; no rain needed.  The Nile would overflow and the land would be watered.  Paroh declared that the Nile was his and that he had made it.  Paroh was declaring his independence from HaKadosh Baruch Hu; Paroh was the original self-made man.  In the process, however, paroh self made himself totally dependent on  -- and therefore subordinate to -- "nature".  In the haftara for parshas v'eira, HaShem refers to paroh as a big fish in which HaShem has placed a hook to lead paroh wherever HaShem chooses.  Paroh has been reduced to "hatanim hagadol", his nation to a school of fish clinging to his scales, his life to being dragged by the cheek hither and yon.  His choice to turn away from HaShem and depend on the river has reduced his life to nothing put a pull toy; his struggles as nothing more than a death dance.

How did this all happen?  va'yomer HaShem el Moshe kaveid leiv paroh mei'ein l'shalei'ach ha'am (Sh'mos 7:14).  "HaShem said to Moshe -- the heaviness of paroh's heart is refusing to send out the nation [Klal Yisrael],"  What does it mean that the "heaviness of paroh's heart" is running the show?  The Alshich explains that the heart is the center of desire; paroh has made his desires the master.  By giving in totally to his desires, he has made himself nothing more than just another cog in the system.  The fuel injection system may be important, but it's only important in the context of the car.

You can be the driver, or you can be the vehicle; there is nothing in between and the choice is in your hands.

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