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ב"ה

Talking to Me

Friday, 15 January, 2021 - 6:04 am

It’s easy to point fingers as we observe the challenges America and our world face today. And, the blame that we assess may be fully valid.

However, I was once taught that every time you point a finger at someone else, you are pointing more fingers at yourself.

Does this apply to a situation when I am certain that someone else is at fault? Is this relevant when it’s clear that I am not involved at all in the issue at hand?

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In this week’s parsha Va’eira, Hashem punishes Egypt and its corrupt leader with the (first seven of the) ten plagues.

G-d declares that, “I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and I will increase My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.”

It seems obvious that G-d’s plan in bringing the Ten Plagues upon Egypt is to punish them for the crimes perpetrated against the Jewish people and to help – force – them to recognize Almighty G-d and His authority and power.

Rashi, however, offers another view. According to this classic commentary, Hashem preferred that Pharaoh’s heart be hardened, “’So that I can increase My signs and My wonders in him; thereby, you will recognize My mighty deeds.’ Such is the custom of the Holy One, blessed be He. He brings retribution on the nations so that Israel should hear and fear.”

The target was Pharaoh and Egypt. Yet, the real target was the Jewish people.

Pharaoh and Egypt endured the consequences – rightfully so. But, Hashem’s objective was much deeper. G-d was speaking – through His third-party actions – to the Jewish nation.

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The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything we see and experience in the world should be a lesson in life. The great founder of Chassidism was emphasizing that Providence puts us in a certain time and place for a reason. Sometimes, that reason involves direct action. Invariably, it involves direct reflection.

If G-d put me in a certain era, observing certain challenges and events – much of which is beyond my control – it’s a clear message.

Twitter, Facebook and our inboxes are full of suggestions on how to fix this world.

Perhaps the one suggestion I need most – and am most capable of actually implementing – is the one directed right back at me. How can I learn from the important lessons transpiring all around me?

Will I be a better person tomorrow due to what I have observed and experienced?

After all, Hashem is talking directly to me. Am I answering that call to inspire and improve myself?

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