Sadly we live in a time without prophets to inform us of Hashem’s will. However, in such times Hashem uses other mediums to communicate to us. World events and major news stories that populate the headlines are channels Hashem uses to convey messages to us. For the past few months, and even more so with the President’s upcoming trip, talks of whether Yerushalayim is the capitol of Israel have dominated the news. Evidently, this is a topic Hashem wants us to be involved in.
We believe that Yerushalayim is the capital of Eretz Yisrael. Why? Is it because the Knesset is there? Is it because the Prime Minister lives there? It is because the center, the nucleus of our nation and homeland is the Beis Hamikdash, which is in Yerushalayim. Hashem wants us to discuss whether Yerushalayim is our capitol for by doing so we may come to remember why it is our capitol.
Recently UNESCO once again claimed that Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. How could anyone in their right mind make such a ridiculous statement? The answer is because Hashem wants us to hear someone challenge our connection in order for us to defend it. What is our connection to the Kotel and Har Habayis? That is where the Beis Hamikdash stood. Hashem wanted thoughts of our connection to the Beis Hamikdash to enter our daily conversations.
The pasuk in Parshas Re’ei tells us that we eat matzah because Hashem took us out of Metzrayim b’chipazon – with haste. The Zohar tells us that this was because Klal Yisrael was on the forty-ninth level of tumah, and had they remained any longer they would have sunk to the point of no return.
The Mashgiach Rav Matisyahu Salomon shlit”a asked a compelling question. We know that the enslavement stopped one year before Klal Yisrael left Metzrayim. For an entire year, the
Jews witnessed the ten makkos defy every natural law and decimate their oppressors. How could they still be sinking lower in tumah after witnessing this?
In fact the purpose of the makkos was for Klal Yisrael to attain yiras Shamayim. How could witnessing these supernatural events lower their level?
Rav Matisyahu says that we can learn from this a chilling reality. If one witnesses Hashem’s actions overturning the world in front of him, and he is not meisim lev – paying close attention and concentrating on it – it will bring him to a lower madreigah.
The Bnei Yisrael were not meisim lev after seeing the yad Hashem destroy Metzrayim in front of them. Therefore they were constantly sinking to a lower level, and they had to be redeemed immediately.
Why is it that if one is not meisim lev after seeing the yad Hashem it will bring him to a lower madreigah?
Concerning the makkah of Barad, the pasuk (Shemos 9:20) says that whoever was a yarei dvar Hashem brought his animals inside, and they were saved. The following pasuk contrasts and says that whoever was not “sam lev” did not bring his animals inside, and thus they were lost. The opposite of yiras Hashem is not being meisim lev.
The Rambam (Hilchos Ta’anis 1:2, 3) says that whenever troubles befall Klal Yisrael, they are because of our actions. If one says that these occurrences are part of the natural course of the world and are not cause for one to cry out to Hashem and do teshuvah, he is an achzar – cruel person. The Rambam calls such a person an achzar because he has closed his heart.
Pharaoh closed his heart to seeing the yad Hashem during the first few makkos, as the pasuk constantly states, vayachbed Pharaoh es lebo. By makkas Dam the Torah writes a seemingly extra pasuk (7:23), which states that Pharaoh closed his heart from listening to this makkah as well. The Rambam says that Pharaoh represents the yetzer hara that we all possess. This yetzer hara tells us not to be moved by events that should awaken us to the yad Hashem in our lives. If one would leave his heart open to witness the yad Hashem, he would naturally become a yarei Shamayim.
It is now after Pesach and Nissan, and we were not zocheh to the geula. Does this bother us? Are we being misbonen about the fact that Hashem is overturning the world in front of our eyes?
Next week marks the anniversary of when Hashem through open miracles gave Yerushalayim back in our control. If we do not contemplate the yad Hashem it will bring us lower. May we recognize the open handiwork of Hashem and appreciate that Hashem is reminding us of the pasuk, “If I forget thee Jerusalem let my right hand forget her cunning.”