Kinder Torah - Parshat Bo
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
"What is that smell?"
"I think it is roasted lamb."
"Impossible! No one would dare to take our sacred animal, the lamb, and roast it in public. Such an act of religious desecration would get the death penalty."
"Haven't you noticed that the Jewish slaves purchased a large number of lambs four days ago? They tied them up inside their homes. Everyone who heard the lamb's voices burned with anger over the boldness of these Jews."
"That was not the end of the story. Four days later they openly slaughtered the holy lambs and brazenly smeared the blood on the door posts of their homes."
"Look at that! A Jewish family is roasting a lamb over an open fire. These people are truly fearless."
The Torah writes, "When I see the blood I shall pass over you; there shall not be a plague of destruction over you when I strike in the land of Egypt" (Shemos 12:13). Did the blood really have the power to prevent or cause the plague? Of course not, explains Rabbeinu Bechaye. Rather one who trusted in Hashem and fearlessly slaughtered, roasted, and smeared the blood of the Egyptian's holy animal merited to be saved. He had shown himself fitting to merit Hashem's protection.
"Imma I don't know what to do." "What's the matter Ahuva?" "A girl in class speaks Loshon Hora to me all of the time." "Ahuva, the Chofetz Chaim zt"l says that you should try to correct her by telling her that she is speaking Loshon Hora." "But Imma, I am afraid that she will make fun of me." "Ahuva, have bitachon (trust) in Hashem. He will protect you. As the Gemora (Pesachim 8b) states, 'No harm can come to His mitzvah messengers.'"
The plague brings total darkness and the Egyptians are defenseless. Anything can happen. The Jews are free to do whatever they want. They can take revenge against their cruel Egyptian taskmasters and never be caught. Why not leave Egypt? The perfect opportunity. There were no guards or sentries to stop them, and no army to catch them. They have an opportunity to end this miserable slavery once and for all. But wait. They once made an oath many years ago. The Targum Yonason (on Bereshis 50:25) explains that Yosef made the Jews swear not to leave Egypt before the appointed time. The Chasam Sofer zt"l explains that this is the explanation of the verse in Tehillim (105:28), "He sent darkness and made it dark, and they did not defy his word." The Jewish people could have very easily defied Yosef's word and left Egypt. However, they would not go back on their oath. They resisted the temptation and kept their word.
We all have temptations. The desire is especially strong when people are not watching. "Abba and Imma are taking their Shabbos nap. Now I can go to my friend's house without asking permission." "The storekeeper is busy with customers. I can easily slip this bag of marbles into my pocket." "Imma is busy with the baby. Now is the perfect time to sneak a piece of the special desert that is only for guests." We know that these things are wrong. It makes no difference whether someone is watching or not. However, the temptation is greater when we feel that we can get away with it. We have the strength to resist that temptation. We inherited it from our forefathers. Stand fast and do the right thing. Even when no one is watching.
Measure for Measure
Hashem informed Moshe of his mission as he stood by the burning bush. "Now go, I will send you to Paroh and you will take My people the Children of Israel out of Egypt" (Shemos 3:10). The Jewish people were not going for a short vacation; rather they were leaving permanently. A true liberation from the slavery and oppression of Paroh. However, the message given to Paroh was quite different. "Let us go for three days into the wilderness and we shall bring offerings to Hashem" (Shemos 5:3). The Vilna Gaon zt"l points out the trickery in this approach. Why does Hashem, the All Powerful One, need to resort to such deception?
The answer is that Hashem repays the sinner measure for measure. Paroh tricked the Jewish people into slavery and hard labor. He himself first went to work. The Jewish people said, "If the king himself can work, so can we." At first he paid them well to motivate them to do their best work. Then he forced them to work at that pace all of the time. At first, he tried to trick the midwives into killing the baby boys. He promised to stand by them if the victims pressed charges. Paroh's whole plan was full of trickery. Therefore, Hashem sent Paroh his punishment with trickery. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz zt"l refers to "measure for measure" the language in which Hashem speaks to man. He shows us our mistakes by making those same things happen to us.
"Abba, Yossie borrowed my toy and broke it." "Oy vey. I am sure that you feel very badly about that. You should ask him to fix it. Can I ask you a question Dovid?" "Sure, Abba." "Did you ever borrow anyone's toy and break it?" "Now that you mention it Abba, I did." "Perhaps that is why this happened to you." Kinderlach, we can learn lessons from everything that happens to us in life. We just have to understand Hashem's language.
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