Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Bo

Rabbi Label Lam

Alive Today!

And HASHEM brought us out from Egypt- not through an angel and not through a seraph and not through a messenger, but it was The Holy One Blessed Be He, Himself in all His glory, as it says, (Shemos 12:12) "And I will pass through the land of Egypt on this night and I will smite every first born in the land of Egypt, from man to beast, and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment, I, HASHEM!" (Pesach Haggadah)

We don't have to wait till Seder Night to ask the question of the Maharal, "Why is this plague different from all the other plagues?" In all the other plagues there was also a clear differentiation of impact between the Jewish People and the Egyptians. So why is this one singled out as the defining moment of the exodus? Is it only because it was the final blow to Pharaoh's empire? Why was there so much extra preparation required prior to executing this 10th plague? Each household had to bring a sheep and slaughter it according to specification and the entire memory of the day centers forever upon this activity! Why?

For some non-mystical reason, about 80% of the entering freshman class had their sights on medical school when I arrived on campus so many decades ago. I was not part of that pack but it seemed everyone around me was. Obviously not all were going to make it so they had these impossibly hard and competitive pre-med bio-chem classes to weed out the weak willed and under-qualified. People stayed up nights at a time and one by one, dreams were dashed as grades were posted.

Everyone was graded "on a curve". If everyone did poorly then even a low grade could still earn an "A". Nobody despaired when tests were handed back because as long as others had failed as miserably, they might still salvage a high mark. After a particularly tough test everyone looked madly to see where in the curve they lie. The great upset was when some genius of a fellow actually scored "99". Now everyone else's "40" automatically spelled failure and many a tense and teary phone call was made to disappointed parents.

At the risk of oversimplifying, the Maharal explains that the Jewish People, who had remained distinct in Egypt, were spared from the fury of the first nine plagues on a relative scale. The Jew who had retained even a part of his heritage stood out amongst the decrepit culture around him. Therefore the Jewish People dodged the waves of misfortune that fell upon Egypt.

The 10th plague, however, was different. This one was to be delivered by HASHEM and no other agency. To survive it wasn't enough to be a little better than the low society about them. It became necessary not just to abandon everything Egyptian but to adopt everything HASHEM. The crucial test was to determine a willingness to approach the light of The Infinite and to bear forever the standard of The Absolute.

Rabbi Yaakov Emden noted almost three hundred years ago: "Many have tried to injure us or wipe us out. While all the great ancient civilizations have disappeared and been forgotten-The Nation of Israel who clings to HASHEM is alive today! What will the wise historian answer when he examines this phenomenon without prejudice? Was this all purely by chance? By my soul, when I contemplated these great wonders of our continued existence, they took on greater significance than all the miracles and wonders that HASHEM, Blessed Be He, performed for our fathers in Egypt, in the desert, and when they entered the Land of Israel. And the longer this exile extends, the miracle of Jewish existence becomes more obvious to make known G-d's mastery and supervision over nature and history.

The operative words in his compelling observation and the enduring lesson of that final night in exile are in the haunting phrase, "The Nation of Israel who clings to HASHEM is alive today!"


Text Copyright © 2004 Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

All Israel
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

A Lesson About Our Psyche
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Honesty
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

> In Our Best Interest
Rabbi Elly Broch - 5764

Murphy's Day
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Payment in Full
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5766

ArtScroll

Fear Itself
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

The Red Heifer Reality
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

The Purpose of the Fifth Book
Shlomo Katz - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

About This We Cry!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Faithful Contentment
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5774

What Are We Missing On Tisha B'Av?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Father Knows Best
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Don't Flaunt It
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

Visionary Words
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

9th of Av: Reasons for Fasting - Part 2
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information