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"Am Yisrael Chai!"

04/18/2019 02:19:22 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

Imagine the following scenario:  A man wearing a white coat is walking down the main street of his city carrying a baseball bat.  As soon as he sees another person coming his way, he walks up to the man and begins swinging away at him with the baseball bat.  After a few swings, the man with the bat manages to land a blow that puts the other man down on the ground writhing in pain.  With that, the man who delivered the blow bends down and says this to the injured person: "Don't worry, my friend. You see this white coat I am wearing?  I am this city's leading orthopedic doctor, and I work in this city's finest hospital.  I will make sure that you have a full and speedy recovery!"  An impossible scenario, you say?  Maybe not.  Just think about the following scenario that actually happened.

In Sefer Breyshit (the Book of Genesis) we read the following: "And He (Hashem) said to Avram: 'You shall surely know that your seed will be strangers in a land [that does] not belong to them; and they shall serve them, and they will afflict them [for] four hundred years.'" (Breyshit/Genesis 15:13)  One of the recurring themes of the Seder meal is our giving thanks to Hashem for having brought us out of Eretz Mitzrayim (the Land of Egypt) with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.  But why are we so grateful to Hashem for saving us when it was He who put us there in the first place?  That reminds of the vignette of the defendant who appears in court before the judge after being charged with the murder of his parents and pleads for mercy because he is now an orphan.  HaShem could have kept us far away from Eretz Mitzrayim so that no harm would have befallen us and there would have been no need to rescue us.

The answer to this perplexing riddle is that our descent into Eretz Mitzrayim was necessary, because it was there that Am Yisrael (the People Israel) were formed as a nation.  It was there that Am Yisrael became capable of being lifted up in order to gain the merit of receiving the Torah.  It is because we were slaves that we had no choice but to recognize HaShem's role in taking us out from Eretz Mitzrayim.  And it is because of this status in our relationship with Hashem at that time that we could receive the Torah from Hashem saying the words "Na'ase v'Nishma!" ("We will do and we will listen!")  Chag Kosher ve-Sameyach!

Sun, September 15 2019 15 Elul 5779