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  • Yehuda Pevzner

But Why??


This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Va’eira, opens with G-d's answer to Moshe Rabbeinu about the claim he has made towards G-d at the end of the previous Parsha. Moshe said there: "Why did you do bad to this nation?! From when I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, things have just gotten worst for the Jews!” G-d answers in this week's Parsha: "and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob", telling him that regardless of the numerous tests and trials that the patriarchs underwent, they didn’t question Hashem’s ways.

Everything written in the Torah is intentional. Its purpose is to guide a Jew in his life and in his Divine service, teaching him how to serve G-d properly. The Torah usually refrains from speaking badly about other creations, even animals! Here, it says something that is ostensibly not to the praise of Moses. It is clear, then, that this is necessary in order to give us guidance in our lives.

Moses, who merited to receive the revelation of the Divine Presence, must have known about the way of the patriarchs. There is no doubt that he knew that the patriarchs did not question the virtues of G-d. Nevertheless, he stood and cried out: "Why did you inflict evil onto this nation?".

It is explained in Chassidut that Moshe’s main attribute was Chochma, wisdom, while the patriarchs were dominated by emotive attributes. With emotions, one can hold onto acceptance, even while one does not understand the matter at hand. For someone who is an intellectual, everything needs to be understood! Moses could not just sit and let things happen before him. He sought to understand, “Why?!”

From this we can learn a double lesson:

On the one hand, we have G-d’s answer, that even in such a time of need, one should embrace the attribute of the patriarchs and not ask questions, even when the situation seems unbearable.

On the other hand, the claim of Moshe Rabbeinu was not removed from the Torah to teach us an eternal lesson. When a Jew is in exile, and especially at the end of exile, when spiritual darkness is prevalent, to the point of complete confusion between light and darkness and good and evil, still two mental tendencies must reside within him: on the one hand, he must be strong in his faith in G-d, Who will lead him to redemption; but on the other hand, on the part of divine wisdom, the cry must break force: “Why?! Until when?!”

The cry does not contradict the belief. On the part of the mind, which examines what is being done with its own tools, a terrifying cry must break out: "Why is it bad for this nation!". This is how G-d wants the mind to respond. And yet the characteristic of the patriarchs, to just accept and believe, must prevail in the Jew, and that’s where faith comes in.

A Jew is required to live with these two opposite realities - on the one hand, a complete and unshakable faith, and on the other hand, a cry from the depths of the soul: "We want Moshiach now!"

Shabbat Shalom and may we merit the immediate redemption RIGHT NOW!!

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