Simcha's Torah Stories - Va'era
THE KING'S HEART
"Chaim, did you hear the news?"
"Good or bad?"
"Famine, disease, plague, death, blight, and terrible destruction."
"Oy vey, Avi. That sounds awful. When and where did all of this happen?"
"Three thousand years ago in Egypt."
"Avi, you have a good sense of humor. I always appreciate your jokes. For a minute, you really had me worried. Now that you brought up the subject, I would like to share with you something that I learned today about the plagues in Egypt."
"Try to imagine the plague of tsefardeah (frogs). They were everywhere, in the homes, in the ovens, even in people's stomachs. The noise from their croaking was deafening. Paroh, the King of Egypt, in all of his splendor, is sitting on his throne in his royal garments, surrounded by his officers. He opens his mouth to speak, but you cannot hear his voice. It is drowned out by the croaking of the frogs in his stomach. Can you imagine anything more disgraceful than that?"
"It was very humiliating."
"Paroh calls to Moshe and Aharon and asks them to pray to G-d to remove the frogs from him and from Egypt. Then he will send out the nation to worship G-d."
"Moshe and Aharon did their part, but Paroh did not keep his half of the deal."
"Because G-d hardened Paroh's heart. Over and over again, after each plague, G-d hardened Paroh's heart."
"And the entire nation of Egypt was destroyed."
"Exactly. Shlomo HaMelech, King Solomon, the wisest of all men, wrote in Mishle (21:1) "The heart of the King is in G-d's hand". The king cannot just think about himself. His decisions affect all of the people. G-d controls his heart to make the choices that are right for the entire nation. Therefore, G-d hardened Paroh's heart."
"But Paroh's decisions allowed Egypt to be destroyed."
"Our sages give several reasons for that. One thing is for sure. It was the will of G-d based on the deeds of the Egyptians."
"Chaim, is this still true today?"
"In what way, Avi?"
"These are times when the Jewish people are in great danger. It appears that our fate is in the hands of a few world leaders. Now we know that their hearts are in G-d's hands. They are really being controlled by Him."
"Right, Avi, but He still wants something from us."
"The true service to Him that has saved the Jewish people from disaster time and time again. Tefillah (prayer), tshuva (correcting our mistakes), strengthening our Torah learning, strengthening our mitzvah performance, and giving more tsedaka (charity). This is what our Torah leaders are calling for."
"Chaim, I'm ready to give it my best. Let's do things the right way and try to avoid something terrible. Let's go straight to the Beis HaMedrash and learn."
"I'm with you, Avi. Let's do our part to help our people. G-d will surely take notice and soften the king's heart."
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