Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bo 5631 Second Ma'amar - Practical Application

This essay is based on Bo 5631 Second Ma’amar.  Clicking on the previous words will bring you to the ma’amar on the blog.
Even after seven plagues had decimated Egypt, Pharaoh’s resolve had not weakened.  On the one hand, the plagues were a clear indication that God was in control, a tremendous revelation.  On the other hand, why had the redemption not yet come?
The Midrash explains that the nation did not deserve to be redeemed because we had not yet forsaken idolatry.  In fact, we deserved to be destroyed.  Since we could not be redeemed on our own merit, God orchestrated a series of events which would be Pharaoh’s undoing.  Unless Pharaoh deserved to be destroyed more than we did the redemption would not have come. 
God therefore told Moshe at the beginning of the parsha, “... בֹּא אֶל־פַּרְעֹה כִּי־אֲנִי הִכְבַּדְתִּי אֶת־לִבּוֹ .../Come to Pharaoh for I have hardened his heart …”  In effect, God is telling Moshe not to be concerned that the redemption has not yet arrived.  “I am the one who has hardened Pharaoh’s heart for the good of the nation, in order to bring about the redemption.”
This is a powerful lesson for us.  Many is the time that we find ourselves in difficult situations.  We wonder why God is doing this to us?  Why are things not working out the way we expected them to?  Why is God not helping us?  The story of the plagues and Pharaoh’s hardened heart teaches us that God is always helping us.  He always has our best interests in mind.  Even if we do not understand it, we can understand that everything that happens to us is ultimately for our own benefit.
This is a difficult lesson to put into practice.  When we’re in the throes of a crisis, the last thing we want to hear is that this is good for us!  Usually, we’re trying to find the way out of the mess.  We are not interested in hearing someone’s “mussar”.  
And, of course, it’s important to be sensitive to a person’s pain even if it is ultimately for his benefit.  Many years ago a friend of mine was in a terrible car accident in which his mother died (lo aleinu).  He was driving and was also hurt and hospitalized.  One of the visitors told him that he needs to do teshuva. That’s a pretty extreme case of insensitivity. 
Because it is difficult to put into practice during a crisis, it is crucial to be prepared emotionally and spiritually before any crisis arises.  The way to prepare is to strengthen our faith that everything that happens to us is from God and that He always has our best interests in mind even if we don’t understand it.
How can we strengthen our faith?  Here is a technique that has worked for me.  During the course of your day, take note of everything that happens.  As events occur, say, “This is from Hashem.”  I know people who are constantly thanking God.  All day long, “Thank you Hashem!”  If, for example, you are driving and are stopped by a police officer, before even talking to him, say, “I know that this is a test of faith.  It is from you.  The cop is only your tool.”
Then, fortified with this idea that has become second nature, when a serious crisis arises, you are prepared for it.  You have the tools to cope with it.  And sometimes if we merit it, we even get to see the personal “redemption”.  Then all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and we understand why things had to happen the way they did and how we benefited because of it.  Sometimes we don’t merit this and we take it on faith anyway.
May God help us to realize that everything that happens to us is from Him and for our benefit, that God wants only the best for each of us.  He wants us to succeed and experience Him.  May we merit it!

1 comment:

Moshe David Tokayer said...

This morning I it occurred to me that another technique that has worked for me is to view events as guidance from Hashem. Even if it's not clear what the guidance is, the act of viewing them as guidance many times makes things clearer. Hatzlacha Rabba to us all!