Divrei Torah


By the end of this week’s Parsha, the Pharaoh must have been climbing the walls. At this point, we have read about the first seven of the ten plagues that G-d sent against the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, before Pharaoh finally decided that he had enough and threw the Jewish people out from Egypt – as we will read in next week’s Parsha. Each of the plagues was miraculous. It seems that each plague perhaps should have convinced the Pharaoh to let the Jewish people go.  All water in Egypt turned to blood. That was quite impressive, especially since the Jewish water remained as water. Then frogs appeared all over Egypt, followed by lice – neither of which affected the Jewish people. Next there were plagues of wild animals, cattle diseases and boils – all of which only attacked the Egyptians. The Jews got off scot free!

Yet, none of these six supernatural occurrences influenced the Egyptians to let the Jewish people go – even though it seemed obvious that the Jewish people received special protection and were unharmed. The plagues also seemed to be leading to the destruction of the Egyptian society and country. However, after the seventh plague – hail that was a mix of fire and water - Pharaoh proclaimed that G-d is righteous, and he and his nation were the wicked ones. Moshe should please daven for him. What was it about the hail that influenced the Pharaoh more than at any other time?

Rabbi Mordechai Kaminetzky explains that there are many opposing forces in the world. However, when they work together, they can be the most powerful force one can imagine. During the plague of hail, fire and ice overcame their differences and served G-d in tandem. Even Pharaoh saw the conflicting forces working together and was amazed. He realized that opposing forces working together are unstoppable. He realized -at least for a moment – how little control, if any, he had.

In the Mishebeirach that is said for a person who is ill, we ask that G-d send the person “a Refua Shleima - a complete cure from Heaven.” Rabbi Meir Juzint zt”l raised a question about the language of the Mishebeirach. He asked, “Isn’t everything from Heaven? Why say a cure “from Heaven”? Rabbi Juzint explained that the Hebrew word for Heaven - “Shamayim” -based upon Rashi – is a contraction of two words – “aish” and “mayim”– fire and water. G-d took two contrasting elements -fire and water - made peace between them and created the heaven. When a person is sick, the organs, limbs and veins – so-to-speak- don’t get along with each other.

In a similar vein to fire and water in Heaven, we ask that G-d should make peace among the organs and limbs in this person’s body - opposing forces should get along to form a strong bond – to restore his physical strength so that he could serve G-d properly.

There is nothing stronger than unity. The Jewish people frequently talk about it. Unfortunately, it usually takes a drastic event to produce that unity. But the Jewish people really should take a step back and work at it because - although we have many varying Halachik approaches in our service to G-d and the Jewish people - as a united people of opposing forces, we would be unbeatable. We would be on top – stronger than anybody. Then, people seeing our unity of opposing forces would say to us, “Hail to the Chief.”