This week’s Torah portion of Va’eira contains the posuk, “Veyod’u Mitzrayim ki ani Hashem bintosi es yodi al Mitzrayim – the Egyptians will know that I am Hashem, when I stretch out My hand over Mitzrayim.” The Degel Machane Ephraim asks in the name of the Baal Shem Tov zt”l: Why did Hashem need to break all the rules of nature just for the purpose of proving that He is the Mighty One? Does Hashem need all types of signs and miracles to prove His omnipotence? The Nesivos Sholom, quoting the Degel Machane Ephraim, answers that the posuk does not mean that the actual Egyptians would learn about Hashem’s strength; rather, the Torah understands that the culture of Egypt had seeped into every one of us, and was now inherently part of us. Yet, even those whose value system had strayed would recognize the greatness of Hashem.
The Nesivos Sholom explains that it was worthwhile for Hashem to perform all these miracles that defy nature in order to uplift Bnei Yisroel and to help them reach their ultimate fulfillment as a nation. The slavery in Egypt was not a punishment, but rather was a purification for them to be able to become the Am Hanivchar, the Chosen People. The ten plagues were needed to remove the impurity from the land in order to eradicate the forces of evil that were in Egypt.
The purification process of the ten plagues also allowed Bnei Yisroel to witness the awesome power of Hashem and to strengthen their belief in Hashem, which was the ultimate reason that they were worthy of redemption.
Returning to the initial peshat of the Degel Machane Ephraim, we can apply the lesson that the miracles of Mitzrayim required Hashem to step out of the world of nature, as it were, and that these events served as a sign for future generations. We live in a generation where secular culture has seeped into the walls of even the finest homes. Hashem performed great miracles in Egypt so that today, we, His children, can put on our “faith-tinted glasses” and witness, understand, and internalize that miracles happen right in front of our eyes on a daily basis. Many day-to-day happenings, politically and otherwise, seem to defy nature, reflecting divine intervention; the handprints and footprints of Hashem are all over them. Every so often, Hashem reminds us that as much as we are affected by our surroundings and its foreign culture, we can use these daily events and bursts of faith and inspiration to strengthen ourselves in our Torah study and performance of mitzvos to serve as a lifeline and an opportunity to enhance our faith in Him, and to spiritually uplift ourselves and our families.
This weekend, we will be celebrating the completion of Phase One of our building campaign at a Melave Malka. We ask all parents to join us on this important occasion, to celebrate the work that is already enhancing and creating a more comfortable learning environment for our students and staff. Special thanks to Mrs. Elaine Saklad and Mrs. Ruchama Szendro for all their efforts on our behalf.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman,