BO (Exodus, 10:1-13:16) — “Just Desserts”

It was the eve of our redemption.  G-d was preparing us for our departure from Egypt.  On the tenth of the month of Nissan every family was to designate a lamb for slaughter.  On the afternoon of the fourteenth of the month, the lambs would be slaughtered in preparation for our first Seder meal.  We were to take matzah, bitter herbs, and roasted lamb, and eat them in celebration of the fact that G-d was about to take us out of Egypt.  

Why lamb?

It was pay-back time.

———————————————————————————-

G-d is the ultimate arbiter of fairness.

A scale and just balances are G-d’s; His deeds are like weights in a pouch.  (Proverbs, 16:11)

Rashi explains this verse as saying that G-d carefully weighs out punishment for sins.  When you weigh something on a balance scale, there are different sized weights that are placed on the opposite side of the scale to determine the exact weight.  Just as every item that goes on the scale is measured with a different combination of weights, so too does every person receive a different punishment, depending upon his actions.  A scale and just balances are G-d’s — every measurement by G-d is done with absolute precision.

The Egyptians had it coming.  They mistreated us.  They persecuted us.  They enslaved us.  They made life miserable for us.  G-d insured that not one bit of the pain that they inflicted upon us would go unpunished.

Midrash Rabbah (16:4) describes how the Egyptians made life so unbearable.  They would cook meat in our presence and not allow us to eat it.  We had to satisfy our hunger with bread while they enjoyed their freshly-killed and -cooked venison.

G-d saw this as intolerable.  His children were being deprived of eating a decent meal while being forced to watch the Egyptians enjoy theirs.  They suffered while watching others eat what they couldn’t have.  G-d decided to pay back in kind.  He would force the Egyptians to watch eating that they wouldn’t enjoy.

The lamb was sacred to the ancient Egyptians.  (See Exodus, 8:22)  The Israelites were told to gather in all the lambs they would need for the Passover Seder.  For four days before Passover, the Egyptians helplessly looked on as their god was prepared for slaughter.

The Egyptians had forced their slaves watch them eat meat that was off-limits to the Israelites.  Now the Egyptians would suffer the anguish of seeing their god made into a schwarma sandwich.

“I am a True Judge,” said G-d.  You caused My children to suffer.  Therefore you shall suffer as well.”

A scale and just balances are G-d’s; His deeds are like weights in a pouch.

———————————————————————————-

This is difficult to understand.  Our People were enslaved.  We were beaten.  Jewish children were murdered so the Pharaoh could bathe in their blood.  In the major scheme of things, not getting the beef seems to be an almost insignificant addition of insult to injury.  G-d brought ten plagues against the Egyptians.  He devastated their country.  He shattered their economy.  The god-roasting of the Passover Lamb seems to be an inconsequential supplementary slap at an already chastised sinner.

However, as King Solomon wrote, a scale and just balances are G-d’s.  No act of treachery goes unpunished.  If you add an ounce of weight to one of the sides of a scale, you will need another ounce on the opposite side to balance it out.  Had the Egyptians done all the evil acts that they did, but allowed our People to eat well, they still would have been punished.  However, since they sinned a little more, they deserved a little more punishment.  Had they not treated us this way, there might, perhaps, be no Passover Offering.  Or, at least, there might not have been an in-your-face collection of lambs that so offended our idolatrous taskmasters.  Egyptians would not have been forced to endure the indignity of seeing their god being eaten.

———————————————————————————-

It is not always easy to be a Jew.  We are hated and resented.  We are persecuted.  There are two points that we must always keep in mind.

1)                 G-d is a fair Judge.  We do not possess the wisdom to fathom the reasons for His actions. But we know that those reasons are there.  If something happens to us, major or minor, it is because it was meant to happen.

2)                 Those who hurt us will, in the end, receive their just punishment.

———————————————————————————-

Another thought.  There is a general rule that whatever applies to the negative applies all the more so to the positive.  G-d does not ignore the slightest misdeed.  If someone does something wrong, there is, eventually, a punishment.  (Unless that person repents.)  If that were not the case, that G-d would not be a True Judge.

That being so, it is certainly the case that G-d rewards every good deed.

We should never despair of receiving G-d’s reward for every Mitzvah.  Every action, so matter how small, is recorded and measured on G-d’s scale.

Never ignore the opportunity to perform a Mitzvah, regardless of how small and insignificant it MAY seem to be.  There is a reward that comes with every Mitzvah.

G-d has a very long memory.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

To leave a comment about this article, or to read other readers’ comments on this article, scroll down past the archive links.

———————————————————————————

From the Archives 

“How Many Plagues Does It Take to Punish a Pharaoh?”, or,

“A Plague on TEN of Your Houses?” (2012)

… G-d told Moses to tell Pharaoh, “G-d said, ‘My firstborn son is  Israel…You have refused to release him…I will kill your firstborn son.’”

As we all know, he refused to release G-d’s “firstborn”, and eventually he sustained the loss of the Egyptian firstborn in the Tenth Plague.  Based upon this original warning, it appears that the only punishment necessary for refusing to release the slaves was the tenth Plague.  Why the other nine?…

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“Time Off for Bad Behavior” (2010) 

The numbers don’t add up.

The habitation of the Israelites during which they dwelled in  Egypt was four hundred thirty years.  It was at the end of four hundred thirty years, on that very day, the legions of G-d left the  land of Egypt.  (Exodus, 12:40-41)

There’s a problem with the math.

…  Obviously, our stay in  Egypt must have been considerably shorter.  In fact, says Rashi, we were only there for 210 years.

… what happened to the other 190? 

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“Just Desserts” (2009)

…The lamb was sacred to the ancient Egyptians.  …Now the Egyptians would suffer the anguish of seeing their god made into a schwarma sandwich…

This is difficult to understand.  Our People were enslaved.  We were beaten.  Jewish children were murdered so the Pharaoh could bathe in their blood.  In the major scheme of things, not getting the beef seems to be an almost insignificant addition of insult to injury.  G-d brought ten plagues against the Egyptians.  He devastated their country.  He shattered their economy.  The god-roasting of the Passover Lamb seems to be an inconsequential supplementary slap at an already chastised sinner…

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“Double Dating” (2007)

A few weeks ago we opened up our new calendars and re-taught ourselves how to write checks … 

There are authorities who rule… that one is not permitted to abbreviate the secular months of January, February, etc., as 1, 2, etc.  …  Other authorities … argue against the use of the secular months entirely!…

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“Pharaoh’s Brother” (2006)

One of the unsung heroes of the Exodus from  Egypt is the Pharaoh’s older brother.  He was the one who finally brought the Pharaoh to his senses.

What’s that?  You’ve never heard of the Pharaoh’s older brother?  Well, I did tell you he was an UNSUNG hero!…

Pharaoh lost it.

Get outta here!” he screamed.  And don’t ever come back!  If you dare come to see me again, you’re a dead man!”  (Loose translation of Exodus,10:27)…

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“Lox, Cream Cheese, and … UNLEAVENED BAGELS??!!!” (2005)

You don’t have to be religious to feel Jewish…

Pharaoh no longer refused to let the Israelites leave.  Not only did he permit them to leave, he INSISTED that they leave.  Immediately!

… we have been in exile for close to two thousand years  … How is it that our ancestors would not have been able to withstand a moment more than 190 years of exile, while we continue to exist into our third millennium?

… there is a very big difference between our generation and that generation…

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“The Dog Days of Egypt” (2004)

… He’s doing it again… That obnoxious know-it-all at the office who always manages to grate on your nerves.  He “knows” who’s going to win the primaries and who’s going to win the Super Bowl.  He’s got an opinion about everything, and he’s consistently full of baloney.

You really want to put him in his place.  You’d love to tell him, just this once, exactly what you think of him and his crazy notions.  Still better, you’d just love to punch him in the nose! …

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“If I Could Only Be Like ___” (2003)

… G-d said to Moses, …”Go to Pharaoh, because I have made his heart stubborn …

Was this fair?  It looks like a set-up!  It looks like G-d is forcing Pharaoh to stubbornly refuse to release the Israelites, and then He plans to punish Pharaoh for being stubborn!

Why should Pharaoh be punished?  He should plead “Not Guilty, by reason of Divine Coercion!”  …

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“Nissan Maximum” (2002)

… How can we celebrate the first of Tishrei in the fall as the New Year, when the Torah tells us very clearly that year really begins on the first of Nissan in the spring? …

Read more.

———————————————————————————

“Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts…I’ve Already Made Up My Mind!”  (2001)

…Egypt is in shambles. The king’s own advisors have begged him to wake up and smell the coffee and realize that he is destroying his own country by continuing to disregard G-d’s demands.

Now it’s time to take off the kid gloves and get tough! …

Read more.

———————————————————————————

This is the weekly message at www.torahtalk.org.   Copyright © 2000-2012 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

———————————————————————————

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (www.Brisrabbi.com)  and chaplain in  Monsey,  New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

———————————————————————————

If you enjoyed this e-mail, send it to a friend.

To subscribe to this mailing, send an e-mail to Torahtalk@gmail.com, and type “Subscribe” on the subject line.   To unsubscribe, type “Unsubscribe” on the subject line.

Advertisements
Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 7:33 am  Comments Off on BO (Exodus, 10:1-13:16) — “Just Desserts”  
%d bloggers like this: