Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Makkos in Mitzrayim as a Foundation of Emuna

I was talking to a recent ba'al t'shuva (this is only his second year of making Pesach properly); part of the discussion centered on how to keep the seder fresh and new every time; especially when we celebrate two s'darim back to back.  I think that's one of the reasons that new hagados come out every year with yet another angle.  However, at this point I have more than enough hagados to keep things fresh for decades; all I have to do is learn a paragraph or two starting from where I left off last year (or the year before or the year before...)

None the less, I did (of course) buy a new hadaga; Matnas Chaim.  It wasn't just my yeitzer harah, this hagada was published l'ilu'i nishmas (as an elevation for the soul of) Ita Rivka Zucker, ale'ha shalom.  This hagada is unique as it is not simply filled with divrei torah (from HaRav Matisyahu Chaim Solomon, shlita), but all the divrei torah are designed purposely as preparation for enhancement of the seder experience itself.  First there are 12 articles before the hagada starts to help one be in the correct frame of mind for the seder.  Interspersed and interleaved throughout the hagada are just enough instructions to guide, but unobtrusive enough allow to actually use this hagada during the seder.  Finally, at the back is "kuntrus eser makos"/notebook concerning the 10 makos to zero in on a few essential points that each makah is meant to teach -- including instructions for giving them over to the children (dance from foot to foot to impress on them how ridiculous Paroh looked in front of everyone when Moshe prevented him from attending to his daily needs in the morning while warning Paroh about the plagues).

There is one more thing I love about this hagada -- with every turn of the page comes a question that makes me think, "What an obvious question!  I wonder why I never thought of that before!"  Like this one: Why didn't Paroh just have Moshe killed and be done with it?  Bad enough Moshe and Aaron just walked in and out of Paroh's palace at will, but why not just order his guards, "Off with his head!"?  The answer is important to us in our daily life.

Mitzrayim was a the center and height of culture in a very civilized and cultured world.  (I know... not like the anthropologists told you in college; don't tell me you are still shocked that they lied!)  It was a world where sorcery and magic really happened.  Here comes Moshe Rabeinu claiming to have no special skills, not a sorcerer, nothing up his sleeve; he comes simply as the messenger of the Creator of the World, HaShem.  Paroh declares, "I don't know any HaShem"; meaning, "I don't recognize a power outside of my reality, and certainly no power exists that I cannot control."  The overarching message of the makos was to teach one lesson: HaShem creates the world anew each and every moment.  There is no nature, there are no real powers; the world is nothing but what HaShem says it is -- nothing more and nothing less.  Paroh therefore had only one thought, one single minded intention; prove Moshe wrong.  If Paroh can't prove that, then his whole way of life and world outlook become one colossal mistake.  Paroh time and time again goes to any extreme to find a hole in Moshe's arguments -- this must be the highest level of sorcery!  Moshe again and again demonstrates the opposite; nothing is what it is, everything is what HaShem says it is.

That, of course is our daily avoda; as we say in p'sukei d'zimra every morning: The gods/powers/physics of the nations of the world have no independent reality -- HaShem created everything, even the heavens.

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…