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G-d intervenes!

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil

Since creation of our state, the land of Israel has been continuously targeted and gone through tough times.

There seems to be no end. Last year’s war in Gaza with mortars and bombs landing across the country and more recently the nonstop knife attacks throughout the land.

We are facing hard times and in a day and age where people can post their thoughts and send them instantly to millions, we are witnessing an unprecedented attack on our people, history and heritage.

The claim that the land does not belong to the Jews and the Jews are not the ‘Chosen People’ has taken on a fashionable role in society. So much so that it is even causing some of our own people’s views of the situation to be manipulated.

When Hashem created man, the Torah (Bereishit 1:26-27) relates that Hashem said:

“Let us make man in our image, as our likeness, and let them (him) have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the animals and over the land and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

The sages are baffled as to why the Torah relates to the Creator in the plural. Why does it say Naaseh Adam – let us make man, rather than E’eseh Adam – I will make?

Rashi explains that this plural formulation reflects Hashem’s humility in formally consulting with lower beings. People should learn from this that if the Creator of the world consulted with lower beings before creating man, so too when we are in a high position we should consult with those around us and bring them into the decision making process.

The lesson of DerechEretz far outweighs the small risk of theological confusion.

This lesson however seems to contradict an episode hinted at in this week’s Parasha.

Avraham had been married to Sarah for many years. He was nearly 100 and she was nearly 90 when they were caught up in the house of the king of the Gerar – Avimelech.

Avimelech took Sarah to his chambers over night. Due to the intervention of Hashem, Avimelech was not able to touch Sarah. However no one was there to witness this and soon after, Sarah became pregnant.

Our sages tell us that the LetsaneiHador – the jokers and scoffers of the generation all made up that the only reason Sarah was now pregnant was because she had relations with Avimelech.

This was of course false.

In order to show the scoffers of the generation that this was false Hashem made a miracle and Yitzchak’s facial features resembled those of his father Avraham. Hence the Torah states Avraham HolidEt Yitzchak. It was clear to everyone that Avraham, not Avimelech, gave birth to Yitzchak.

How come here it seems that G-d was worried (so to speak) about the wrong image being portrayed and thus changed how Yitzchak looked but in creating man, G-d did not seem to be worried. Why the difference?

There is one place that Hashem Himself intervenes.

Chazal teach us that the Jewish people were meritorious in leaving Egypt due to them not changing their language – they may have spoken the local language to the Egyptians but among themselves

they spoke LashonHakodesh. This prevented them from assimilating altogether, as we recite in Hallel – BetzetYisraelMiMitzrayim Bet Yaakov me-am Loez. The latter words may be interpreted as ‘from a nation that speaks a foreign tongue’. Am Yisrael kept their language preferring not to take on the language of the Egyptians.

But there is a further meaning to this Pasuk. Am Yisraelwent out from a nation that was MotziLaaz – speaking badly about them. The Egyptians claimed that BneiYisrael had fallen in their modesty. Egypt was the centre of immorality and they claimed that there was no way that BneiYisraelwere not affected by this during their tenure in Egypt.

The Pasuk continues – Hayta Yehuda Lekodsho – in fact the opposite was true. Am Yisrael had managed to survive morally intact.

When Am Yisrael left Egypt and came to Marah, a bitter water pool, G-d showed Moshe a tree. Moshe threw the tree into the water and the water became sweetened. The Jews were then able to drink the water.

The Rekenati explains based on a Zohar that in fact Moshe was asked to write Hashem’s Name and throw it into the water similar to the case of a Sotah (a woman accused by her husband for being secluded with another man).

All of Am Yisrael then drank from this water and they all lived – proving that they were all Kedoshim – Sham Sam lo chokumishpatVeshamNisahu.

Similarly in ParashatPinchas we find that Hashem intervened and gave a signature to every family.

The Torah relates the families by their names; “BneiReuvenChanochMishpachatHaChanochi”. Rashi asks, why does the Torah add a “Hey” to the beginning of each family name and a “Yud” to the end? He answers, because the nations of the world were ridiculing BneiYisrael by saying, “Why are you tracing your ancestry to your Shevatim? Are you under the impression that the Mitzrim were not promiscuous with your mothers?? If they controlled BneiYisrael by forcing them to work, they surely had relations with BnotYisrael! So all of you are really descendants of Egyptians!”  Therefore Hashem added a “Hey” to the beginning of each family name and a “Yud” to the end, using the name of Hashem – “Kah” – as a testimony that the Jewish women in Mitzrayim were not promiscuous.

In creating man, Hashem was adamant to teach DerechEretz by telling Moshe to write “let Us make man” and those that made the wrong conclusion would make the wrong conclusion and not learn from the moral. However when it came to taking care of the Kavod (honour) of His people, He is very clear and leaves no room for doubt!

ElehToldot Yitzchak Ben Avraham – AvrahamHolidEt Yitzchak. It was Avraham that bore Yitzchak, and Hashem changed Yitzchak’s entire features to be compatible with this so that there would be no room for confusion.

Over the past three thousand years we have stayed strong, through thick and thin. In our generation we have merited the gathering of the exiles. There are still trials and tribulations ahead. But one thing is for sure and has Hashem’s stamp on it – we are a Holy Nation, we are His Chosen Nation and we will never be forsaken.

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