The final plague to strike the Egyptians was מכת בכורות. Moshe warned Paroh that this מכה would occur at “about” midnight, כחצות הלילה. Isn’t it strange that Moshe spoke in such terms, considering that Hashem told him the plague would occur “at midnight?” Why did Moshe change what Hashem had told him? Rashi explains that Moshe understood that if he had said exactly midnight and מכת בכורות occurred when Paroh’s advisors calculated it to be slightly before or slightly after midnight, the Egyptians would claim that Moshe was a liar!
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin comments that this is a function of the power of finding fault. Even after witnessing the miracles of the first nine makkos, the Egyptians would not consider the possibility that perhaps they had miscalculated the time. Since they were looking to find fault, even a minor discrepancy would cause them to claim Moshe was a liar.
As parents, we all know that finding the positive traits in our children or a situation goes much further than finding fault. When discussing others, especially in front our children, we need to keep this in mind and realize that it can be very hurtful. People rarely respond positively to vindictive criticism. We do not live in a perfect world and there is always fault to find. But the Torah teaches us that there is a downside to being negative, of constantly finding fault. Let’s concentrate on seeing and emphasizing the good in everything, which will have a positive impact on our children.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School