Thursday, January 14, 2021

don't wait for a crisis

 וְגַ֣ם׀ אֲנִ֣י שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי אֶֽת־נַאֲקַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִצְרַ֖יִם מַעֲבִדִ֣ים אֹתָ֑ם 

So which is it -- was Hashem moved by the cries of Bnei Yisrael, in which case  אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִצְרַ֖יִם מַעֲבִדִ֣ים אֹתָ֑ם is extraneous, or was Hashem moved by the injustice of the Egyptian persecution, irrespective of whether anyone else cried out or objected to it, in which case אֶֽת־נַאֲקַת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל is extraneous?

The Oheiv Yisrael (also R' Liebele Eiger) explains the pasuk as follows: many people go through life ho-hum without thinking too much about G-d, until one day when the going gets tough, and then suddenly its time to break open the Tehillim and rediscover what avodas Hashem means.  Klal Yisrael in Egypt was pushed until their backs were against the wall, and so they cried out to Hashem for help.  But what they cried about is more than the pain of slavery.  What they cried about is the fact that it took a crisis to bring them to that point.  They cried because  אֲשֶׁ֥ר מִצְרַ֖יִם מַעֲבִדִ֣ים אֹתָ֑ם -- the Egyptians were the ones that drove them to avodas Hashem.  It shouldn't take a crisis to bring the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov to speak to their Father upstairs.


  1. min-ha'avodah (2:23) -- from "the...slavery"

    min-ha'avodah (2:23 final words) -- from "avodas Hashem", namely heartfelt vidui, "It shouldn't take a crisis...";

    G-d heard the former by "instinct" (previous post), from an "innate sense" of compassion, and the latter from His chiyuv ["assur/mutar"] regarding the bris* with Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov...

    *va'ezkor es-brisi, 6:5 part 3 [and 2:24]

  2. Not to be the Pshat Police every time, but this is the quintessential chassidishe vort. Also, M'Hechi Teisi that Bnei Yisrael in Mitzrayim were not serving Hashem until a certain point? Where do you see that in the pesukim or Midrashim? (I guess you can always trot out the good-old "49th level of Tumah" Midrash, which in my opinion also doesn't seem to have any connection to the pshat).

    1. "this is the quintessential chassidishe vort."
      No. This is "A quintessential chassidishe vort."
      THE quintessential chassidishe vort is
      אלם או חרש או פקח. מדוע מונה הכתוב את הפיקח בין שאר בעלי המומים? אלא שמכאן ראיה שגם פיקח יותר מדי נחשב לבעל מום, וכפי שפירשו צדיקים על דברי רש״י בפר׳ קורח: קורח שפיקח היה מה ראה לשטות זו׳ דהיינו שאסור להיות פיקח יותר מדאי.

    2. Fantastic.
      Absolutely fantastic.
      That's all I can say.
      (from CB)

  3. >>>but this is the quintessential chassidishe vort

    Is that a bad thing?

    >>>Where do you see that in the pesukim or Midrashim?

    You don't even need to get 10 pesukim into sefer shmos and you see in midrashim that Bnei Yisrael were not serving Hashem properly:

    וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ חָדָשׁ. רַבָּנָן פָּתְחִין פִּתְחָא לְהַאי קְרָא (הושע ה׳:ז׳): בַּה׳ בָּגָדוּ כִּי בָּנִים זָרִים יָלָדוּ עַתָּה יֹאכְלֵם חֹדֶשׁ אֶת חֶלְקֵיהֶם. לְלַמֶּדְךָ, כְּשֶׁמֵּת יוֹסֵף הֵפֵרוּ בְּרִית מִילָה, אָמְרוּ נִהְיֶה כַּמִּצְרִים. מִכָּאן אַתָּה לָמֵד שֶׁמשֶׁה מָלָן בִּיצִיאָתָן מִמִּצְרַיִם, וְכֵיוָן שֶׁעָשׂוּ כֵן, הָפַךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הָאַהֲבָה שֶׁהָיוּ הַמִּצְרִיִּים אוֹהֲבִין אוֹתָן, לְשִׂנְאָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: הָפַךְ לִבָּם לִשְׂנֹא עַמּוֹ לְהִתְנַכֵּל בַּעֲבָדָיו (תהלים ק״ה:כ״ה), לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר: עַתָּה יֹאכְלֵם חֹדֶשׁ אֶת חֶלְקֵיהֶם (הושע ה׳:ז׳)

    Bris milah is the defining feature of Jewish identity, esp, given that you are going by pshat, it is the one mitzvah that had been given to the Jewish nation family and set them apart from others. Being mevateil it carries great meaning (as it does to this very day).

    The Alter of Slabodka has a piece in which he collects all the midrashim that say that Bnei Yisrael were guilty of things like idolaty, etc. in Egypt in contrast to the better known midrashim like "lo shinu es shemam, lo shinu es malbusham" etc.

    1. I'd appreciate it if you could give me the sefer and page of that vort from the Alter. I checked the Or Hatzafun and couldn't find it.

    2. I haven't looked at the sefer in a very long time and was writing from memory -- I haven't been able to find it. Maybe I misremembered. (from CB)