“For I have made heavy his heart and the heart of his servants in order that I should put these signs of mine in his midst and in order that you should relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son how I dealt with Egypt, and you should know that I am Hashem” (10:1-2).
That great generation was mandated with the mission of serving as eyewitnesses who would testify to all future generations. This is a key statement that explains the reason for all the wonders that took place in Egypt and at Sinai and in the wilderness: this generation was privileged to be eyewitnesses in order to testify for all future generations.
Why were they considered such good witnesses? Because they were “a stiff-necked people,” which means highly intelligent people of independent minds who had learned from Avraham and from Yitzchak and from Yaakov to discount the superstitions of the nations among whom they had sojourned. This was the reason Moshe had said to Hashem: “They will not believe me” (4:1).
Hashem performed miracles for these trusty eyewitnesses that were never again shown to any generation in order that all subsequent generations would benefit by the lessons these miracles teach. Thenceforth the laws of nature decreed by the Creator would no longer be disturbed, for the lessons of the miracles are available to all who wish to study them as they are related in the Scriptures.
From these words (“In order that you should relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son…”) it is apparent that such wonders would not be performed in the future. The time of open miracles would pass, because the Creator desires that His laws of nature should prevail. But these laws of nature are actually stupendous miracles that men fail to recognize due to the regularity of their occurrence, which lulls the mind into lethargy.
Now, in that era the great open and unusual miracles were performed so that men would remember them forever learn from them that Hashem performs miracles of equal magnitude every day: “A man’s food is as difficult [i.e. as miraculous] as the splitting of the Sea of Suf” (Pesachim 118a).
The plagues were chiefly intended not as punishment upon Egypt but to bestow on the sons of Israel the everlasting gift of awareness of Hashem and of His election of the nation of Israel forever: “I am Hashem” and “Israel is My firstborn son” (4:22).
When the later generations fail to utilize properly the lessons of these wondrous events, it is considered a frustration of Hashem’s plan, and as if Hashem punished Egypt in vain and abrogated His laws of nature in vain.
“That which l performed in Egypt and My signs which I put upon them” were for the purpose that “You should know that I am Hashem,” which refers to Israel.
This verse foretells that such wonders will not recur because Hashem does not wish to abrogate His laws of nature. Forever we shall look back to the great past.
The second verse should have stated “And you shall know that I, Hashem, have performed this wonder.” But to know that He is Hashem means that and much more, for the word Hashem signifies the “source of all that exists” and therefore He alone is the doer of wonders and of all that transpires.
“You shall know” – did the first seven plagues not cause them to know? But here we learn that to “know Hashem” is an unending effort that should be continued always, because His greatness is endless. Thus Moshe requested, after Hashem had revealed Himself so abundantly to him, “let me know You.”
Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com.
For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.Rabbi Avigdor Miller