S P E C I A L S

For the week ending 28 March 2015 / 8 Nisan 5775

You're as Great as the Challenge

by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

G-d has provided leaders of the Jewish People throughout history with “great souls”. Souls that must bear the major brunt of the burden to lead the nation to follow G-d through "thick and thin".

King David was one of these leaders with such a “great soul”. He required this depth of spiritual character since he was the first of the line of kings which will ultimately give birth to "King Mashiach".

But accompanying this greatness is "another side". In simplistic terms, this means that with a spiritual greatness also comes a parallel great “evil inclination”. As the story of King David unfolds, we see the development of a king whose descendants will bring us the final salvation. King David overcame every mighty challenge, which resulted in his starting an everlasting dynasty to lead the Jewish People.

Let us travel back in history for a moment to examine key events in the formation of our nation, and their meaning for us today as we too face our own challenges in life.

The Ten Plagues: The Jewish People in Egypt did not have the privilege of today's Jewish education. No Hebrew schools, no yeshivot. Thus, the Ten Plagues, as well as being a punishment to the Egyptians, also served as a method of “schooling” the Jewish People. It helped them gain proper recognition and understanding of G-d’s Monarchy in the world — in “Ten (not so) Easy Lessons”.

The Exodus: G-d “invited” all of the Jews to join the great Exodus from Egypt. But as our Sages teach us, only one-fifth chose to follow to exit the land to which they had become accustomed. Those who did not choose to join in the Exodus — the other 80% — disappeared during the plague of darkness, the ninth plague.

One must be in awe of that “small” fifth that left Egypt. They were “great souls” who chose to follow G-d into the desert. They were so great that we find the prophet Jeremiah (2:2) extolling their virtue as he expresses G-d's praise of these people: "So says G-d, I will always remember the kindness of your youth; you followed me into a desert, a non-arable land."

We see in this verse praise from G-d for the Jewish People for rising to the occasion and defeating a negative inclination to stay in Egypt. G-d was saying in effect, “You are the greatest of people on Earth. You have fulfilled the purpose for which I created the world. You have placed your entire being in My hands to accept the Torah.”

The challenge of the Exodus was the beginning of our national challenge, and no other nation had faced this challenge, nor will they ever face it. Meeting this challenge and “winning” by following the way of G-d, revealed the “Great Soul” that reverberates in the Jewish People until today. The soul that has sustained us through every challenge down through the ages. It has accompanied us and aided our survival through every "Exodus" we have encountered.

The Exodus was a one-time event. But this one-time challenge was soon followed by a new, ongoing challenge that has been with us until this very day: The challenge of the Jewish People and the Torah. The Jewish People and the Torah are the reasons for Creation. If the Jewish People adhere to the Torah, the reason for Creation is fulfilled.

And besides our national challenge, there is the “individual” challenge”. Each and every one of us has his "specially tailored" challenge.

There are many challenges in our lives to see if we will follow what G-d taught us, and what has been handed down throughout the generations — just as we hand down this rich history on Pesach to our children at the Seder. And when a person overcomes a challenge he is re-enacting the original Exodus, moving toward the original goal of receiving the Torah.

And moving one step closer to the final goal of “bringing” Mashiach, may it be speedily in our days. Amen.

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