In this week’s Parsha, the Egyptians are struck with the first seven plagues out of the ten plagues that they received for enslaving the Jews. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were brought to their knees as they suffered one plague after another. Although they were proven to be utterly powerless, Pharaoh stubbornly refused to free the Jews.
We will focus specifically on the Makkah of Barad, hail. More accurately, this was a combination of ice and fire, natural enemies who made peace in order to fulfill Hashem’s Will.
Hashem warned the Egyptians through Moshe His prophet before almost every plague in order to give them a chance to repent. Hail was no exception. In fact, in order to escape the lethal effect of the Barad, the Egyptians were forewarned that all they had to do was procure shelter for themselves, their servants and their livestock by bringing them indoors. They would only suffer the terrible discomfort of the thunderous noises but they would not be struck by the fiery hail and forfeit their lives.
The Torah relates, “Those who feared the Word of Hashem brought their servants and their livestock indoors with them (and they were saved). Those who didn’t direct their hearts towards the words of Hashem, left their servants and their flocks in the field (where they were destroyed by the hail)!
But wait! There seems to be an important party missing. What about the owners of the servants themselves? Apparently, they were prudent enough to remain indoors! They only desired to make a statement of their doubt of Hashem’s Word by sacrificing their possessions and leaving them outdoors but yet they themselves fled indoors! As they say, “There ain’t no atheist in a foxhole!”
Although this seems very foolish to us, we have to wonder whether we ourselves are sometimes guilty of the same misguided behavior. Although we are able to distinguish right from wrong, sometimes our stubbornness or pride may lead us to act in ways that may contradict what we really believe in. In addition, it seems from the words of the Possuk that the flip-side of fearing Hashem is the failure to focus one’s heart on Hashem. Evidently, the appropriate Awe of Hashem is within everyone’s reach, provided that one directs his heart and mind towards seeking the Truth. It was only because those Egyptians failed to focus on the word of Hashem that they didn’t completely heed the warning.
May we merit to always make our decisions based upon what is truly right and just according to the Torah and not just by our instincts or emotions.
By Rabbi Sharaga Thav