Va'era: Only Time Will Tell

Pharaoh's stubbornness was our salvation.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

And I shall harden Pharaoh's heart, so as to multiply My wonders... and Pharaoh strengthened his heart.

One of the most difficult dictums of chazal is their statement, "Just as we bless G-d for the good, so must we bless Him for the 'bad.' For in this world we recite two brachot: HaTov V'Hametiv ('He is good and does good') and Dayan HaEmet ('G-d is the true judge'); but in the next world we shall only recite, 'He is good and does good.'"

I've often cautioned well-meaning individuals against couching their words of consolation in terms of gam zu l'tovah - "everything is for the best." While this may indeed be true, it is something that cannot be imposed on the person who is suffering; he must come to that conclusion all on his own. When a loved one dies tragically (by our terms), high-minded cliches are useless at best, and often cruel and hurtful.

Moshe Rabbeinu struggled mightily to come to grips with Jewish suffering in a world controlled by an all-powerful G-d of mercy and compassion. He also questioned how Pharaoh could be held accountable for his obstinance when, from word go, HaShem hardened his heart. Both of these issues meld together in our sedra, and the end
Moshe Rabbeinu struggled mightily to come to grips with Jewish suffering.
result is the ultimate liberation of Am Yisrael.

HaShem guides a person in the way he or she wishes to go, facilitating their journey while keeping their free choice intact. Pharaoh wished to act arrogantly and live in denial, and so HaShem let him do just that. Pharaoh passed on all the many chances he was given to save his country; and so what began as a simple request for a three-day pass in the desert turned into our total redemption. Pharaoh's stubbornness was our salvation.

But Pharaoh was not alone among our historical foes in this regard. Imagine where we would be today if our enemies had not held fast to their intransigence and pathological hatred of us. We would have received a truncated, tiny, indefensible state in 1947; we would never have unified our holy capital in 1967; we might have accepted the horrendous deal Messrs. Barak, Arafat and Clinton (Mr. Hillary) tried to force on us in 2001 at Camp David, which included ceding Har HaBayit to the Palestinians.

But, Baruch HaShem, our enemies were stubborn and selfish. Their hearts were hard and they rejected peace. And so we prevailed, and the tragedy became triumph. Their rejection - thanks to HaShem - became our reward, time and time again.

And speaking of time, the Torah suddenly injects into next week's parsha a totally new topic: time (hachodesh hazeh lachem). I suggest this interjection comes to teach us that seeming tragedy must always be filtered through the prism of time. Time has a way of providing the perspective that illuminates the darker moments of our life and reveals the blessing that lies hidden beneath the tears.

What is "good" or "bad"? Only time will tell.