The attitude of the nations of the world to the Jewish People

Americans are paying for former Pres. Obama's decision to persist with the Iran deal. The Egyptians paid for Pharaoh's stubbornness.

Dr. Joseph Frager,

Dr. Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager
Courtesy of Dr. Frager

"Hashem granted the People favor in the eyes of Egypt; moreover, the man Moshe (Moses) was very great in the Land of Egypt, in the eyes of Pharaoh's servants and in the eyes of the people."

The Ramban (Maimonidies) divides this posuk (verse) into two separate parts: The first part relates to the fact "that the people of Egypt did not hate [the Children of Israel] because of the plagues they suffered upon Israel's account."

The Ramban goes further and says the Egyptians were saying, "We are the evil ones, perpetrating violence against you and it is only right that G-d would show you favor." In other words, the Egyptian people, unlike their leader Pharaoh, recognized G-d's supremacy, His might, His awesomeness and His operating system. They were repentant, and essentially said "Al Chait" (the confessional prayer) before the final Plague of the Firstborn. It was Pharaoh who resisted, not his people.

Because their leader was stubborn, arrogant, and lacking in fear of G-d Almighty, the Egyptian people suffered the Plague of the Firstborn.

The second half of the posuk says, "the man Moshe was very great in the land of Egypt..." The Ramban relates "in the eyes of the people" to the Jewish People. Most commentators do not divide the posuk this way. They keep it consistent by saying the whole posuk is referring to the Egyptian people. However, the Ramban must use the words, "the man Moshe was very great in the land of Egypt" to relate to the Egyptian people and the words, "in the eyes of the people" to the Jewish People.

Until now, we have not been told that the Jewish People had recognized the greatness of Moshe. The last we were told (5:21) was, "They said to them, 'May Hashem look upon you and judge, if you have made our very scent to be abhorrent in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of his servants to be a sword in their hands to murder us.'"

The posuk in Parshat Bo (11:3) was, according to the Ramban (Nachmanides), written to correct that initial misconception. The Ramban writes, "For now Moshe became exceedingly great in Israel's eyes, through their seeing he was faithful as a prophet to Hashem." There are many examples in the modern era of G-d's control over the nations of the world and their attitude to the Jewish People.

The concept expressed in this posuk (11:3), "Hashem granted the People favor..." is of a nation waking up to G-d's ways, recognizing the greatness of the Jewish People, and finding favor in the Children of Israel, has been actualized in modern times. The decision of the American people and former US President Harry Truman to help grant statehood to Israel in 1948 is one such example.

The fact that the Russians voted in the United Nations for the establishment of the State of Israel is another example. There may have been separate agendas at work, but the fact is that the State of Israel came into being this way. Even the Germans' offer of reparations to the Jews is an example. (I am not of the opinion that this even comes close to what the Germans must do. This is the subject of a much longer piece and it will stir many passions. Suffice it to say that it is impossible to forgive or forget what the Nazis did to the Jews.)

Closer to home, when Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on March 3rd , 2015 to Congress against the terrible Iran deal, this was another example of, "Hashem granted the People favor...". The majority of Americans opposed the Iran deal and accepted the Prime Minister's words over and above those of their own then-President Barack Obama. This was one of the factors that convinced America to vote for US President Donald Trump.

The American People unfortunately suffered because their leader (President Obama) stubbornly persisted in making the foolhardy deal, just as the Egyptian people suffered because of Pharaoh. There is a lot to be learned from the Torah. Shabbat Shalom