web analytics
February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Being Like Hashem


The-Shmuz

“And Pharaoh sent for Moshe and Aharon and said to them, ‘I have sinned this time. Hashem is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.” – Shemos 9:27

After months of rebellion, Pharaoh finally admitted he was wrong. The Dos Zakainim explains that the plague of barad moved Pharaoh more than any other. And it was because of one factor: Moshe had warned him the hail would kill anything living. Again and again, Moshe cautioned Pharaoh to take his livestock and his slaves inside. Because Pharaoh was repeatedly warned to save the living creatures, he was moved and recognized his error.

This Dos Zakainim is difficult to understand. Why would this detail cause Pharaoh to admit Hashem was right? He witnessed the greatest revelation of Hashem’s mastery of nature and it didn’t move him. He watched as Mitzrayim, the superpower of its time, was brought to its knees. That didn’t move him. Why should this single factor have such an effect?

This question is best answered with a mashal.

The Nature of the Human

Henry Ford, while a brilliant businessman, was not known for his kindliness. In fact, he used to brag that he never did anything for anyone. The story is told that while he was going for a walk in the fields with a friend, they heard yelps coming from a nearby property. A dog had gotten caught in a barbed wire fence and couldn’t get out. Ford walked over to the fence, gently pulled on the wire, and freed the dog. When he returned to the road, his friend said to him, “I thought you were the guy who never did anything for anyone.” Henry Ford responded, “That was for me. The dog’s cries were hurting me.”

This story is compelling because Ford didn’t care about anyone but himself. He didn’t choose to be kind. He didn’t want to feel the pain of others. In fact, he tried his best to squelch this sensitivity. But it was still there. He couldn’t stop himself. He was pre-programmed to have mercy. In his inner makeup there was that voice that said, “Henry, the poor animal is in pain. Go do something!”

Even though he prided himself on selfishness, he couldn’t quell that voice inside. It bothered him to hear a creature in pain. When he heard those cries, they reached down to his inner core, to that part of the human that only wants to do good, proper and noble things. That part was touched. It saw an animal in pain and said, “Don’t just stand there, Henry. Do something. That poor animal is suffering.”

Let Us Make Man

This is illustrative of the basic components of the human. When Hashem created man, He joined together two diverse elements to form his soul. These are his spiritual soul, what we call his neshamah, and his animal soul, which is comprised of all of the drives and inclinations needed to keep him alive. The conscious “I” that thinks and feels is made up of both parts.

The neshamah comes from under the throne of Hashem’s glory. It is pure and holy and only wishes for that which is good, proper and noble. Because it comes from the upper worlds, it derives no benefit from this world and can’t relate to any of its pleasures. The other part of man’s soul is very different. It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to drive man though his daily existence.

We humans are this contradictory combination. Within me is an animal soul made up of pure desires and appetites, and within me is a holy neshamah that only wishes to do that which is right and proper. The animal soul only knows its needs and exists to fulfill them. The neshamah is magnanimous and only wishes to give. These two total opposites are forged together to create the whole we know as the human.

This seems to be the answer to the Dos Zakainim. Pharaoh was a human being, and as all humans, he had a sublime side to him. He may have spent years ignoring and pushing it down, but it remained within him. What he experienced during the plague of hail was pure chesed. His enemy was concerned for his good.

There was nothing Hashem had to gain by protecting the cattle and the slaves of the Egyptians. The only motivation was generosity, goodness, and a pure concern for others. Seeing this warmed even the callous heart of Pharaoh. He understood he was dealing with something outside of the realm of normal human interests. He saw Hashem.

This also helps us understand one of the great ironies of life.

The selfish person is focused on his needs and wants. The generous person is concerned about the welfare of others – even at the cost of his own needs. We would assume the selfish person would be happy. After all, he is singly focused on what’s good for him. But the generous person has the good of others on his mind – surely he can’t be as happy. He has to worry about the good of others.

Yet just the opposite is true. The more a person is focused on others’ needs, the happier he is. The more he focuses on his own needs and wants, the unhappier he will be.

When man develops the trait of giving, he achieves inner peace, balance, and harmony. When he ignores it, he suffers. His sense of self becomes fragmented. One part of him is demanding, “What’s in it for me?” and the other side is crying out, “What have I done for others?” The more a person develops the nature of giving, the more he becomes like Hashem.

This why kindliness is so basic to being a Torah-observant Jew, to being as much like Hashem as is humanly possible. While it takes focus and attention to bring out the higher part of our personality, it is ingrained in our soul and so it comes naturally to us.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Being Like Hashem”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
Likud Charges Opponents with Illicit Funding Through US-backed V15
Latest Judaism Stories
Staum-013015

People often think that all they are missing is “just a little more” and then they can be truly happy.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The Midrash is teaching a fundamental message of what it means to be a religious person.

Rabbi Sacks

Torah opposes slavery; G-d desires the free worship of free human beings, yet slavery’s permitted-?!

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

France allowed Islamists to flourish despite their loyalty to Islamic sharia law not French values

Approximately 18 years ago, my uncle called me into his office saying he had an urgent matter to discuss. I didn’t know what he had in mind.

“Where is God?” asked the Kotzker Rebbe “God is not everywhere but only where you let Him enter”

An Explosion In The Trench
‘With A Glowing Hot Knife’
(Yevamos 120b)

Her first tactic was tefillah; she immediately began to recite one perek after another of Tehillim.

When a miracle occurs that transcends nature, Hashem has broken the laws of nature to create the miracle.

“How could you have expected my glasses to be there?” argued Mr. Weiss. “You shouldn’t have to pay.”

Rather than submit to this fate and suffer torture and humiliation, Shaul decided to fall on his sword.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

A strange midrash of fruit trees surrounding the Nation of Israel as they walked to freedom

Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

The-Shmuz

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to drive man though his daily existence.

How did their hatred toward the Jews make their own lives disgusting? It’s the Jews they hated, not themselves.

When Hashem made man, He created two worlds – this world and the World to Come. Each has its purpose.

Because we see these events as world changing, as moments in history, they become part of us forever.

Our right to exist and our form of self-government were decided by the ruling parties.

If Hashem is watching tzaddikim, why couldn’t He just save Yosef from all the suffering he was about to endure?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/being-like-hashem/2013/01/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: