Were a single parasha of the Torah to contain a full
accounting of the past, together with an informative explanation of the present
and a definitive projection for the future, it would be deemed a most remarkable
source of wisdom. How more so when the past, present and future are encapsulated
in a mere two words!
I will return to this. But first, several questions
regarding this week’s Torah reading:
Moses is bitter at the results of his meeting with
1) Moses is bitter at the results of his meeting with
Pharaoh. He exhibits his feelings by protesting to G‑d for the disappointing
refusal of Pharaoh to permit the Jews to stop working for three days in order to
sacrifice to G‑d. How odd! Did not G‑d forewarn Moses that Pharaoh would not be
receptive to Moses’ request?
2) Why was Pharaoh so obstinate? Didn’t he realize
that even slaves cannot work 24/7 and produce satisfactory results?
And more. After being warned by Moses of the
approaching locust plague, Pharaoh’s own advisors said to him: (Ex. 10:7) "Egypt
is lost," and yet Pharaoh refused to give in and allow them ‘vacation.’
3) G‑d informed Moses that He would "harden Pharaoh’s
heart". But is not freedom of choice a basic tenet In G‑d’s relationship with
all human beings?
In the verse relating to Moses’ complaint to G‑d: (Ex.
5:23) From the time I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought
trouble on this people, and You have not rescued Your people," there are two
critical words (five in English) in Moses’ statement.
Moses did not just say: "From the time I came to
Pharaoh to speak... he has brought trouble on this people, and You have not
rescued Your people."
Rather he said: From the time I came to Pharaoh
to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and You
have not rescued Your people."
Had Moses come before Pharaoh as a labor
representative requesting a rest day or three for the workers, Pharaoh might
have considered the request. However, Moses immediately raised the issue to a
theological level, claiming that he was the messenger of the Almighty G‑d of
Israel. Pharaoh, as Egypt’s most eminent religious authority, could never
acquiesce to a request brought forward in the name of a foreign deity.
His stubbornness turned into a matter of principle,
and principles are guarded and not compromised.
Instead, Pharaoh’s reaction was to increase the burden
on the Jewish slaves by not supplying them with raw material as a way of
displaying his disregard for the God in whose name Moses appeared.
G‑d did not harden Pharaoh’s heart
by denying him freedom of decision...
In this situation, G‑d did not harden Pharaoh’s heart
by denying him freedom of decision -- it was unnecessary. Pharaoh’s ideological
and religious compulsions did not permit him even a symbolic compromise with the
defiant Moses and Aaron.
Herein lies our past, present and future.
In the past, our slave experience was based on
Pharaoh’s unwillingness to recognize the Jewish God.
In the present, the official elected government
of Israel refuses to state that the authentic claim of the Jewish People upon
the land is G‑d’s promise to our forefathers that this land belongs solely to
the Jewish nation forever. The majority of our ministers and members of Knesset
have a positive feeling towards Torah Judaism; yet they oppose every piece of
legislation that could be interpreted as being pro-religious. In their minds, if
the State of Israel is perceived to have a religious orientation by basing our
presence here on a theological premise, there could no longer be a chance for a
peace settlement. By maintaining the conflict as a political, as opposed to a
theological one, there could be a chance of everlasting utopian peace in the
The motivations of the past and present are indeed
embedded in the two Hebrew words:
L’daber b’shmecha--to speak in Your name….
And so too are the secrets of the future.
The prophet Ezekiel and others prophesied that in the
future the descendants of Esau (today’s Christian Europeans and their
derivatives) will join with the descendants of Ishmael (the Moslems and their
derivatives) in the final military conflict to destroy the descendants of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, here in The Land of Israel. And both enemies will be
destroyed by the "out-stretched hand" of the Almighty.
What a bizarre prophecy!
What a bizarre prophecy! What could ever bring these
two dissonant gentile peoples to agree upon anything, much less a coordinated
The answer again lies in the two words L’daber
b’shmecha -- to speak in Your name.
Political Israel will have no choice but to admit that
our only claim to the Holy Land is G‑d’s promise to our forefathers as cited in
the Torah. And when we declare in the great international halls of the world
that we are indeed God’s chosen people and we come in His name, it will serve as
a call to arms to the gentile religions to unite against the God of Israel.
So here we have the whole story of mankind
encapsulated in those few words of the Torah: "to speak in your name".
Moses and Aaron in Pharaoh's Palace
Did you ever wonder why Pharaoh never tried to do away
with Moses and Aaron? It appears from the Torah that Moses and Aaron had the
"run of the palace"; that they would come and go at will with never being
touched or even threatened.
At a time and place where human life had no value, the
two holy men not only accused, threatened and imperiled the entire Egyptian
nation, they even proved time and again that their threats were real as they
turned into the horrible realities of Egyptian life. Yet they walked without
fear in situations where lesser crimes were punished by death.
I believe that in the year when Moses and Aaron were
appearing before Pharaoh, they were besieged with dire threats to their lives
every time they approached the palace gates and were hounded day and night by
Pharaoh’s KGB and Gestapo. But G‑d created conditions that protected them,
although the Torah does not relate this aspect of the episode.
Why should I think so? Because this was always the way
The Midrash relates that Nimrod threw Abraham into a
fiery furnace, but Abraham emerged unscathed.
Jacob escaped from the evil designs of Laban.
David was saved from the hands of Achish King of Gat.
Chanania, Mishael and Azariah were thrown into a fiery
furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, and they walked around as if they
were sunning themselves.
Daniel emerged from the lion’s den unscathed.
Here and Now
greatest miracles of all are happening right now...
But you might be surprised to learn that the
greatest miracles of all are happening right now, before our very eyes, in our
How long were Abraham, Chananya, Mishael and Azariahh in
their respective crises? Five minutes? an hour? -- not more.
David was in the town of Gat for a few days.
Daniel was with the ferocious lions for one night.
Moses and Aaron were under siege for one year.
However, the Jewish communities in the Holy Land have
been in the lion’s den for over 100 years and the State has\been in the fiery
furnace for the last 62 years [written in 2010 – Ed.]. But not only do we
survive, we thrive in today’s world where the greatest nations are in downhill
Just to mention one. Several months ago we were
notified of substantial gas and oil finds; however, yesterday the estimates
reached legendary proportions, with the natural gas finds described as the
largest in the world in the last decade.
I have often written in these weekly messages that,
based on the words of the prophets, we here in Israel, are destined to be
materially the wealthiest nation in the world, to be followed by a return to the
Torah of the entire Jewish people.
The gifts of G‑d will free us from our dependence on
gentile "friends" and from the good will of Jewish communities in the Diaspora
exile. Indeed, the latter will be sending their "shnorrers" here for
In next week’s portion, G‑d tells Moses: (Ex. 6:6-8)
‘I am the G-D, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I
will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an
outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment...And I will bring you to the
land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I
will give it to you as a possession. I am G-D.
It has come to pass in our days. G‑d has handpicked
everyone who merits to be here in our Land to turn the dream into reality. How
fortunate we are!