Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Maharal: two apsects of Yetziyas Mitzrayim

The Maharal (Gevuros Hashem ch 3) cites the Midrash Shochar Tov which offers two analogies to explain the process of Yetziyas Mitzrayim: 1) The Midrash compares Yetziyas Mitzrayim to removing the purified gold from a burning hot smelter; 2) The Midrash compares Yetziyas Mitzrayim to removing a baby animal from its mother’s womb. These two analogies highlight two different aspects of Yetziyas Mitzrayim.

The first analogy calls our attention to the power and might of Egypt. Like a roaring fire that can consume a person’s hand if he is foolish enough to reach into a furnace and try to pluck out something being smelted, Egypt was a dominant force that had the power to destroy any outside force that might try to liberate the Jewish people. Only though miraculous intervention could that power be diminished.

But Yetizyas Mitzrayim was not just about diminishing the strength of Egypt. The baby animal within the mother’s womb struggling to be born is not enslaved because of the mother’s dominating force, but rather the baby is simply incapable of mustering its own strength to extricate itself. Like the shepherd or farmer who intervenes to help the baby out into the world, Hashem’s intervention was necessary because the Jewish people lacked the internal strength to pull themselves out of bondage.

Life is filled with Mitzrayim’s that we want to escape. Too often we focus our hopes and tefilos on asking Hashem to eliminate those problems that seem insurmountable. We also need to work at and daven for help at tranforming ourselves so we can find the inner strength to deal with whatever burdens come out way without becoming enslaved by frustration and failure.

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