One cannot help but be amazed and bewildered when studying
the parshiyos describing the ten plagues visited upon
Egypt. Hashem, the A-mighty, Supreme Being, engages in
`negotiations' with a flesh-and-blood king, a mortal creature
of dust and ashes, a fleeting shadow, a wisp of nothing. And
this `pauper king' arrogantly stiffens his neck in refusing
to let His people go, while Hashem continues to argue, to
hold a dialogue, as it were. Emissaries come and go, the
Egyptians are warned, but they ignore the warnings, and the
faithful emissaries return empty-handed. Still, the
negotiations carry on.
With whom? With a miserable mortal? A minuscule, lowly
critter, adamantly, presumptuously standing its ground before
the very Master of the world! When Dovid Hamelech was forced
to flee from Shaul, he shouted at him, "Who are you pursuing,
King of Israel? Who are you persecuting? A dead dog is
chasing a flea!" (Shmuel 24). This question
reverberates in the atmosphere tenfold. Who is the A-mighty
King trying to best, here? Whom is He contesting? Whom is He
continually plea-bargaining, beseeching, literally begging
that he agree to listen to His voice? A bat of an eyelash is
more than enough time to annihilate Pharaoh so that not a
vestige remains of him or his mighty army, and then Israel
could go forth into freedom with an upper hand, reigning
Modern times can offer us an example of this situation
through the state of affairs (lehavdil) that existed
and still exists between the U.S. and Iraq. The mighty world
power, guardian of world democracy, demands, pleas and
threatens, and repeats the process from the very beginning in
the hope that the Prime Minister of Iraq will be so kind as
to listen to it and do what it obsequiously asks.
Before the talking is all over and actions speak with an
offensive attack, people still wonder why all this groveling?
Why don't you preempt and strike? Ready, aim, fire -- and the
show's over. Why this hesitation and show of forbearance? Was
it cold feet? Lack of courage?
Today, after witnessing the chain of counterattack, the
entire world knows that even for the world's superpower it
isn't as simple as just pressing the trigger. All they can
really do is threaten, demand, and gesticulate wildly to
frighten the enemy. But when zero hour arrives and it is time
to carry out the threats, one returns to the starting point,
to begin all over.
But Hashem, lehavdil a thousand times, has the power
and the ability. He is Omnipotent. He merely glances at the
earth and it quakes. He touches the mountains and they spew
smoke. And if Hashem does not strike with His mighty hand, is
it not a mockery?
He has been insulted, as the Ramak says in Tomer
Devora. He suffers and He absorbs affront. And still,
negotiations are conducted to and from this flea, this
Paro-par'osh who feels himself on equal footing, in
the hope that he will surrender, submit, bow out, deign to
lose face so as not to perish altogether.
Our viewpoint is distorted, however, for our eyes are only
human. A hero, a victor, is considered one who imposes his
will, who wins. But only "You are the Victor, forever,
Hashem." Gentiles enslave His children, but His suffering
them is the very proof of His greatness. The very fact of
Jewish survival in the harsh exile is the confirmation of
Hashem's greatness. Gentiles cackle in His holy sanctuary?
This, too, is a sign of His awesomeness. "Le'olom --
forever," in all situations and circumstances. Even when
everything points to the opposite conclusion -- You are the
The Rambam explains why this is so: The maximum evidence of
power lies in the very fact that despite everything and in
spite of everything, the goal will be achieved when all is
said and done. No person in this world can undertake any
mission and adhere to it in complete opposition to the rest
of the world rising up against him. Hashem created the world
and all of the people in it for one defined purpose: "For My
glory did I create it, form and even make it."
This will be a source of heavenly glory. Period. Whether you
like it or not. You can climb the highest mountains and plumb
the lowest depths but you cannot escape the destiny of
Providence. In the end, the Divine Design will be carried out
and the world will turn over to execute His will.
The hero can bide his time. He is in no rush. What difference
does it make if Pharaoh is insolent, blasphemous, stubborn?
It makes no dent in the ultimate glory of Heaven because when
the show is all over and the process winds down, the result
will be exactly as Hashem planned it all along. In fact, his
very obstinacy will increase the subsequent glory of Heaven,
for then it will be all the more clear that nothing can
oppose or defy Hashem. No will can foil the Divine Will; no
scheming can undermine Hashem's plan. In the end, the
Egyptians acknowledged this and loudly declared, "Hashem is
the Righteous One!" And all of Egypt will know that I am
Hashem. Hashem will not desist or accede an iota. The
accursed ones will be drowned, and as they go down, they will
know full well that "I am Hashem and that might is only
Mine." Can anything be more potently victorious than this?
The Ramchal describes political events in history as an
expansion of this very idea, wherein Egypt is but a
springboard, a metaphor.
The world is drawing further away from its Creator. We
sometimes cannot help painfully feeling that He is being
shunted aside, as it were, from His own world! How many
people in the world are cognizant of a Creator as an active
manipulator of world events, of personal events?
Not to worry, says the Ramchal in Daas Tvunos.
Precisely this fact is the cause for eventual increased
Divine glory in the world.
The time will come when evil will evanesce into nothingness;
it will disappear. Then, suddenly, the full impact of
Hashem's glory will be revealed on earth. Then it will become
apparent that the millennia of attempts to rebel against Him,
to kick up the dust in His face, as it were, have all come to
They will perish and You shall persevere. They shall wither
like weathered hay, like a garment discarded. They will pass
on, away, out, and You will endure. Is this not the ultimate
greatness and awesomeness of Hashem -- that He suffered these
mites to defy Him?
R' Dessler zt'l used to quote a very vital conclusion
in the name of the Maharal: "The will of Hashem will be
realized in man, come what may, either through him, or
despite him." By his hands or upon his back.
The wise one will harness himself to serve Hashem with all of
his might, to carry out his G-d-given mission in life,
willingly. For if not, that goal will be realized, willy-
nilly, through means beyond his power and against his