Thursday, March 18, 2010

219 - Pesach

It is amazing to note that when the Torah describes Yetzias Mitzrayim, there is a much greater focus on Pharaoh than on Bnei Yisroel. There is a lengthy description of the ten plagues, which were primarily aimed at changing and subduing Pharaoh. Rav Wolbe (Da'as Shlomo, Geulah pg. 306) enlightens us as to the reason behind this phenomenon.

We find that in the earlier generations (the Dor Haflagah, Nimrod and the people of Sodom), there were people who acknowledged the Creator and, nevertheless, intentionally rebelled against Him. If they truly comprehended His omnipotence, how is it possible that they intentionally rebelled against Him? In a similar vein, Rashi, (Bereishis 6, 6) quoting Chazal, explains that although Hashem was planning to destroy mankind in the flood, He was "consoled" by the fact that He created man down on earth and not in the heavens. Had man been created in the heavens he could have convinced even the angels to rebel! Chazal revealed to us the arrogance of man: he wishes to remain independent at all costs. Even if he dwelled in the heavens, he still would not subjugate himself to the Creator Who rules over heaven and earth.

Likewise, merely a few days after Bnei Yisroel heard the Ten Commandments from Hashem Himself, they made the golden calf. It is easier to worship something that was created with one's own hands, than to worship Hashem Whom man did not create. Moreover, He created man and demands his subservience. After they sinned, Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu, "I have seen this nation and they are a stiff necked nation." The root of the sin was not the idol worship; rather, it was that they were stiff necked.

This is the reason the earlier generations acknowledged Hashem and, nonetheless, rebelled against Him, as opposed to later generations. Since they recognized His greatness, they had trouble subjugating themselves to a power they knew to be so much greater than they. However, later generations were not as cognizant of Hashem's true greatness and therefore did not feel the need to rebel. They did not feel threatened by Hashem's Omnipotence.

This is the reason that the Torah focuses the story of the exodus on Pharaoh and not on Bnei Yisroel. The years of bondage had taken a toll on Bnei Yisroel and they were broken in body and spirit. All they were waiting for was redemption, and when Hashem revealed Himself they willingly accepted His yoke upon themselves. This was not the case with Pharaoh who stated, "I don't know Who Hashem is" and boasted, "The Nile is mine and I created myself!" Hence, the plagues were aimed toward systematically subduing Pharaoh by showing him Hashem's greatness.

Many people find that when they are studying Torah they are alert and focused, while when they daven they have difficulty concentrating and are constantly distracted by countless random thoughts. This is because when one davens he is acknowledging that there is a Higher Power that controls everyone and everything, and automatically a feeling of rebelliousness rears its head. We must learn from Pharaoh that no matter how great one thinks he is, he is a mere creation and he must humble himself before his Creator and submit to being His servant.

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