Torah Portion

Parashat Va’era

You can be Redeemed

This is one of the messages of Rebbe Nachman: precious Jew, you do deserve it!  You don’t need difficult work in order to live!  Everything is very simple:  you scream from so much pain, your prayer goes up to Hashem, Hashem sends you Moshe, and that’s it, you can be redeemed!

moses_and_aaron_before_pharoah_

Harav Israel Asulin

Translated by Moshe Neveloff

Monday, 23rd of Tevet, 5776

BS”D

Finally, after years upon years of bitter and long exile, suffering and slavery- Hashem turns to Moshe and tells him, the time for redemption has come: “Moreover, I have heard the groan of the Children of Israel whom Egypt enslaves and I have remembered My covenant,” and he requests of him to pass on the hoped for message to the children of Israel: “Therefore, say to the Children of Israel: ‘I am Hashem, and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt; I shall rescue you from their service; I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.  I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be a God to you… I shall bring you to the land about which I raised My hand to give it to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.” (Exodus, Chapter 6, Verses 5-8)  These words are so comforting, soft and healing: “My beloved children, it’s me, Hashem, and I promise you that from now on everything will be okay!  Not just okay, everything will be incredible!  The good ending has come, and I’m coming to take you out of this suffering, to save you from the difficult slavery.  I’m coming to redeem you, to take you as the chosen nation for me and to bring you to the promised land!”

Moshe, who was faithful to the command he received, comes to the Jewish people, who were groaning and struggling from the slavery and crying out for salvation, and tells them the good news, which they waited for for so long: “Beloved brothers, I have good news from Hashem!  Here it is!  Hashem who is great, the one who saved our forefather Avraham from the furnace and our forefather Yaakov from Esav and Lavan; Hashem who promised our holy forefathers that we will be a nation for him, Hashem says that it is happening now!  The redemption is at hand!  Your cries reached the throne of glory, and here it is, he is coming to redeem you!  All of this pain and suffering and servitude and humiliation and weakness- will immediately become history!  Soon it will be good!  There won’t be any more slave masters.  There won’t be any more blows.  The blood of babies will not be spilled.  That’s it.  Everything is going to turn into good!”

A speech full of shining hope for a good future, new, different… and how do the Jewish people react?  “So Moshe spoke accordingly to the Children of Israel; but they did not heed Moshe, because of shortness of breath and hard work.” (Exodus, Chapter 6, Verse 9)  The news of the redemption did not even enter into their ears!!!

Why?  Why didn’t they listen to Moshe?  It’s strange!  They were the ones who groaned and screamed to Hashem for him to save them, and then, when Hashem comes and says to them, “Okay, my precious children, you are free”- they don’t ever hear what he says!!!

How can we possibly understand this???

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov says: “’Because of shortness of breath and hard work’- because they were in the aspect of ‘shortness of breath’, because they were small in their level of faith as discussed above, through this a person needs to engage in difficult work and fasts… and there are several aspects of lacking faith, because there are even Tsaddikim who have a lack of faith…” (Likutei Moharan, Torah 86, Part 2)  Rebbe Natan explains: “When he said to me… that because of a lack of faith a person needs difficult work etc., I stood before him incredulous and my thoughts were in wonderment regarding this matter, because it seemed to me that I have a bit of faith, he answered me and said with a little bit of a language of rebuke: If you have faith, you don’t have faith in yourself… and he mentioned immediately the teaching of the Sages: ‘For who is scornful on the day of small things?’ (Zechariah, Chapter 4, Verse 10)  What caused the table[1] of the Tsaddikim to be disdained in the future?  The smallness that was inside of them, that they did not believe in themselves… It can be explained according to this that they did not believe in Hashem that he is good to everyone and they are important and great in Hashem’s eyes… And the general principle which can be understood from his words is that a person needs to have faith in himself that he also beloved in Hashem’s eyes… great and important in his eyes.” (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, Paragraph 140)

It’s true, they screamed and pleaded to Hashem to save them, but when they were answered, and the redemption was knocking on their door- it didn’t enter their hearts because of smallness of faith, and in whom did they not believe?  They did not believe in themselves.

They did not believe that their scream did something, that their prayers had the power to bring the Messiah.  They thought that in order to merit the redemption you need ‘difficult work and fasts.’  They did not believe that they, as they were, from their place and by speaking with Hashem were truly worthy of redemption!  “They did not believe in themselves!”  They did not believe in this simple truth, that they could call out to Hashem and he would answer and love them and shower upon them good.

Therefore, they allowed the news of the redemption to pass by their ears, and they continued to work hard.

What about us today?

Just as then, also today, in the Egypt of today’s generation which still dwells in the blood and tears of the exile of the soul.  It could be that the news of the redemption is already here, truly, in our hands.  It could be that Moshe stands at our side and whispers to us in the ear: “Listen, beloved ones, this whole nightmare already belongs in the history books!  This bad and painful dream is finishing.  Say enough to blows, blood, pursuits, hunger, pain, loss, blame, confusion, lack of certainty, fears, sadness… a turning point has happened in the story, the time of the redemption has come…”  It could be that Moshe stands here, so close to us, telling us in our ears the news of the redemption- and we don’t hear!  We are in the middle of screaming to Hashem, and from so much screaming, we don’t hear how Hashem is saying to us:  “It’s okay, I’m here, you can calm down, I’ve come to save you.  Now.”  Hashem comes to us with all of the good in the world, and we close our hands and don’t take.  We are not prepared to let the redemption enter inside us.

Why?

Because we don’t have faith that we deserve salvation.  We think that we haven’t prayed enough.  For someone like me, poor and not worthy, to merit this great thing that I want, I need to make more of an effort, to work hard, to pray a lot… a little respect to difficult work, to fasts, self-denial, to reading the book of Psalms two thousand times… according to our outlook, in order to merit a salvation, we need to work hard.  How could it be, that I’ll just call out and Hashem will answer me and the redemption will come?!  How?  I don’t deserve it!

This is one of the messages of Rebbe Nachman: precious Jew, you do deserve it!  You don’t need difficult work in order to live!  Everything is very simple:  you scream from so much pain, your prayer goes up to Hashem, Hashem sends you Moshe, and that’s it, you can be redeemed!

Just believe in it…

[1] Their place in the Garden of Eden

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