I would like to share with you a very deep and profound teaching that I recently heard in the name of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Taub known as the Kaliver Rebbe (1923–2019).
He was a Holocaust survivor who was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944, arriving there three days before Shavuot. While in Auschwitz, he was experimented upon by Dr. Josef Mengele. Because of “chemical burning experiments”, he was unable to grow facial hair; he also had an unusually high-pitched voice, and was rendered sterile, unable to have children. He was transferred from Auschwitz to the Breslau concentration camp, and later to Bergen-Belsen. Six months after the war ended, he reunited with his wife in Sweden.
In 1947 they immigrated to the United States and settled in Cleveland, Ohio. He related in a video that was publicized in Israel that shortly before the liberation, the Nazis were looking to murder 4 people on that day, no one knew whether or not they would be the ones that the Nazis would randomly choose. He starting saying the Shema Yisrael thinking that this may be the last time. He turned to G-d and said, please G-d give me life and I will make sure to proclaim the Shema amongst the living.
At the conclusion of Exodus chapter 5, Moses comes to G-d asking G-d why He had sent Moses since the situation in Egypt had only gotten worse. The beginning of this week’s Torah portion records G-d’s response to Moses and tells him that He had heard the moans of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians are holding in bondage therefore, he (Moses) should say to the children of Israel in the name of G-d, ‘I am the Lord, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their labor, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
It seems pretty straightforward, no?
Well, Rabbi Taub gives a very unique (homiletic) interpretation of the these verses of this week’s Torah portion. He says that G-d was telling Moses that the Israelites were making a huge mistake!
The Torah tells us in verse 5 that G-d had heard the moans of the children of Israel. And what were the Israelites saying? They were saying that the Egyptians were holding them in bondage! In other words, they mistakenly thought that their fate was in the hands of the Egyptians!
G-d tells Moses “Therefore, say to the children of Israel “‘I am the Lord, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,….” Everything is orchestrated from Above. Their fate and destiny are in G-d’s Hands, not the Egyptians or anyone else.
This message is so relevant to our lives today! The news this past week has been both alarming and distressing. Whether it is the news pertaining to the unrest in the US, the major increase in numbers of Covid cases and the new lockdown or the pending elections in Israel. We often wonder who are the “Egyptians” that are to blame for our “bondage”?
Says the Kaliver Rebbe of blessed memory, it is not this one or that one. Don’t waste your time looking for the Egyptians whom you can blame, turn your direction towards G-d. Our lives and our destiny (both individual and collective) are in the hands of G-d. G-d wants us to recognise this and turn back to Him in truth and sincerity putting all our trust in Him alone.
When need to make every effort to turn our attention towards our own personal relationship with G-d and to nurture it through prayer and increasing our study and observance of the Torah.
When we do this, we will hasten the coming of Moshiach NOW!!!