Vol 36.05 - Va'eira 2 Spanish French Audio Video
The connection of the end of the Haftorah - "I will give you free speech in their midst" (Ezekiel 29:21) to the topic of the Parsha;
(5751 Vol. XXXVI, pp. 33-37)
For the Sake of the Jewish People
Others of our Sages199 explain that G-d hardened Pharaoh's heart and "increased His signs and miracles" in order that Pharaoh and Egypt regret their insubordination and subdue themselves before G-d -- "leading the Egyptians to repentance as He made known His greatness."
In point of fact, these aren't divergent explanations, they are essentially one and the same: Punishment was meted out to Egypt in order to demolish and nullify the Egyptian evil entity, so as to reveal G-d's majesty within the world.
Rashi, however, explains200 "I shall harden Pharaoh's heart" in the following manner: "Because Pharaoh sinned and acted impudently before Me. Since I know that idolaters do not repent from the depths of their hearts, therefore it is better for Me that his heart be hardened, so that I may increase My miracles and the Jewish people will recognize My might. Such is the conduct of the A-mighty, bringing punishment upon idolaters so that the Jewish people hear of it and come to fear Him."
We observe that according to Rashi, there is yet an additional purpose in the multitude of signs and miracles, that of instructing the Jewish people.
This is stated explicitly in the verse at the beginning of the Torah Portion Bo: "I have made him and his advisors obstinate, so that I will be able to demonstrate these miraculous signs among them. So that you be able to relate to your children and grandchildren how I made sport of the Egyptians, and how I performed miraculous signs among them. All of this being done, so that you know that I am G-d."
Thus, hardening Pharaoh's heart and the plagues wrought upon the Egyptians were mainly for the benefit of the Jewish people, as Rashi states: "Such is the conduct of the A-mighty, bringing punishment upon idolaters so that the Jewish people hear of it and come to fear Him."201
What compels Rashi to provide an additional reason for the signs and miracles; in any case it was necessary for the plagues to be brought upon the Egyptians in order to mete out punishment, as well as for the Egyptians to know "that I am G-d." What is gained by stating that this was also for the purpose of the Jewish people fearing G-d?
As known, all of creation was created by G-d for the sake of the Torah and the Jewish people.202 This is so not only with regard to creation as a whole, but also with regard to all matters and events -- they are not entities unto themselves, rather, all are for the dual purpose of the Torah and the Jewish people. Thus, not only are all events Providential,203 but they reach their truest and most complete state204 when the Torah and the Jewish people benefit from them.
This is also true regarding specific events whose cause and reason is provided: their most authentic and complete state is attained when they are of service to the Jewish people. For the world is not an entity unto itself, it is G-d's creation for the sake of Torah and the Jewish people. Therefore, the G-dly revelation contained within the world as a whole achieves its most complete state when it relates to and is revealed within the Jewish people.
Here, too, as well: G-d's retribution from Pharaoh and Egypt was indeed a result of their actions towards the Jewish people; also by exacting judgment He kept His promise to Abraham, as G-d had told him, "They will be enslaved and oppressed. But I will bring judgment against the nation who enslaves them." Moreover, G-d's retribution from Pharaoh and Egypt also resulted in "and Egypt shall know that I am G-d."
Nevertheless, all the above fails to fulfill in its entirety that which was stated above, that the singular purpose of all these signs and miracles were ultimately for the sake of the Jewish people.
Therefore Rashi emphasizes the inner meaning of the verse "I shall harden Pharaoh's heart, and increase My signs and miracles in the land of Egypt" -- "therefore it is better for Me that his heart be hardened, so that I may increase My miracles and the Jewish people will recognize My might. Such is the conduct of the A-mighty, bringing punishment upon idolaters so that the Jewish people hear of it and come to fear Him."
Rashi points out that all correction that is meted out to the nations -- even when it serves the cause of punishment and retribution -- has as its main purpose that of ultimately being of service to the Jewish people, "so that the Jewish people recognize My might ... and come to fear Him," "and know that I am G-d."
( From http://www.sichos-in-english.org/books/chassidic-dimension-5/14.htm)
The Haftarah’s Correspondence to the Torah Reading
So says G‑d the L‑rd: “When I have gathered the House of Israel from the peoples among whom they have been scattered, and I will be sanctified through them in the eyes of the nations, then shall they dwell on their land…. They shall dwell upon it securely…. when I execute judgments against all those around them who plunder them, and they shall know that I am G‑d their L‑rd.”
These verses are apparently an independent matter,9 unrelated to Yechezkel’s prophecy against Egypt and its king,10 but insteadrefer to an entirely different era11 – the era when “the House of Israel will be gathered in from the peoples,” which will take place after the final exile. Indeed, this prophecy was conveyed to Yechezkelas part of the continuation of the prophecy regarding the destruction of Tzidon12 and does not directly relate to the prophecy concerning Egypt and its king. Nevertheless, it relates to the theme of Parshas Vaeira, which speaks of the relief granted the Jews because of the judgment G‑d brought against Egypt.13
Why G‑d Brought the Plagues
A Third Reason for the Plagues
3 In a manner that parallels the explanations given regarding the plagues themselves, so too, there are several explanations regarding G‑d’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, as G‑d said,26 “I will strengthen his heart,” and “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and I will perform My manifold signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.”27
There are commentators who explain that this was not an independent matter, but it was part of the retribution to be visited upon Egypt, fulfilling G‑d’s promise that He would judge the nation that oppressed the Jews, as Rambam writes:28
Thus, G‑d hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that His promise that He would judge the Egyptians would be fulfilled.32
Other commentaries33 explain that the reason G‑d hardened Pharaoh’s heart was so that the manifold signs and wonders that Pharaoh would witness would ultimately cause him to undergo a change of heart, cease rebelling against G‑d, and instead humble himself before Him.34 G‑d sought “to motivate the Egyptians to repentance by showing them His greatness… and His wonders, as He declared,22 ‘For this reason, I have allowed you to endure, in order to show you My strength….’ ”35
On the phrase,26 “I will harden,” Rashi comments:
That verse emphasizes that the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart and the primary plagues40 – of which G‑d said,26 “I will perform My manifold signs and wonders…” – were wrought for the sake of the Jewish people, as Rashi states, “This is the way the Holy One, blessed be He, manifests His attributes. He brings retribution upon the nations so that Israel should hear of this and fear Him.”41
The Purpose of Creation
4 In resolution, it is possible to offer the following explanation: As is well known, all existence is not, Heaven forbid, an independent entity, but was created by G‑d. And it was created for a purpose, “for the sake of Israel and for the sake of the Torah.”42 Just as this axiom holds true regarding the very existence of the creation – that it is entirely “for the sake of Israel and for the sake of the Torah” – so too, it applies to every event that occurs in the world. No event takes place independently. Instead, they all – as a whole and individually – occur “for the sake of Israel and for the sake of the Torah.”
Just as the above axiom holds true regarding the occurrences in the world as a whole, so too, it applies to specific events, including those for which the Torah explicitly explains the reason why they occurred. Even when the Torah states that they occurred for a given reason, from an inner perspective, their ultimate and true purpose is “for the sake of Israel….” Since, as explained above, the world is not an independent entity, the revelation of G‑dliness associated with every event that occurs is consummated when that revelation is drawn down to the Jewish people and recognized by them.
On this basis, it is possible to explain the subject under discussion:
This is the inference to be derived from Rashi’s commentary – which, as is well known, alludes to “the wine of the Torah”45 – at the onset of the plagues, on the verse,26 “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and I will perform My manifold signs and wonders”:
“It is better for Me that his heart be hardened, so that I can perform My manifold signs and you will recognize My mighty deeds.” This is the way the Holy One, blessed be He, manifests His attributes. He brings retribution upon the nations so that Israel should hear of this and fear Him.
What G‑d Will Do for the Sake of the Jews
5 Based on the above, it is possible to offer an additional explanation why the final verse in the aforementioned prophecy of Yechezkel is included in this week’s Haftarah.
Nevertheless, at the end of the prophecy, a further point is added,14 “On that day, I will cause the sovereignty of the House of Israel to flourish and I will grant you the opportunity to speak openly among them and they will know that I am G‑d.” This addition underscores that the ultimate goal of all these events that G‑d brought about was for the sake of the Jewish people.
Thus, G‑d brought about a war between Bavel and Egypt, the two superpowers of that age, that involved a great battle in which thousands, even myriads, of soldiers took part. All of this was to grant Yechezkel the opportunity “to speak openly” so that the Jews would accept him as a prophet and thus derive benefit. Moreover, the benefit was not for the Jewish people as a whole – since most had already accepted him as a prophet – but for those few54 who had yet to believe in him.
Not Only a Story of the Past
6 From the above, a lesson can be derived for a person’s Divine service in the present age. Jews must be aware of the fundamental principle that everything that happens in the world, even among the non-Jews, is for the sake of the Jews. As the Yalkut Shimonistates,55 the Holy One, blessed be He, tells the Jewish people, “My children, have no fear. Whatever I have done, I have done only for your sake.” Therefore, despite seemingly ominous events occurring in the world at large, the Jews should not become fearful. Instead, they should strengthen their trust in G‑d56 and strengthen their observance of the Torah and its mitzvos in actual practice as a preparation for the Future Redemption that is speedily approaching.
In addition, we learn from this Haftarah how efforts must be made to draw even a small number of Jews closer to the Torah and its mitzvos. A person should not make a reckoning that he will only be able to have an effect on a small number of people, since most of the Jews in his surroundings already observe the Torah and its mitzvos. He may also doubt whether he will be able to influence those few and draw them close to G‑d’s service. Therefore, he may think that its preferable that he should work on himself in order to rise to loftier levels of Torah study and Divine service.
Rambam57clearly states that a person should always see himself and the entire world as equally balanced between good and evil, and understand that if “he performs one mitzvah, he will tip the balance for himself and the entire world to the positive and bring deliverance and salvation for himself and for them.”
It is possible that influencing even one person to perform one mitzvah will tip the balance to the positive and hasten the coming of the true and ultimate Redemption. May it come in the immediate future.
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