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Hashem’s Wonders

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil

Soon we shall all be sitting with our families around the Seder table, men women, grandparents, children, many generations sitting at one table in order to relate the story of our ancestors and how G-d redeemed them from Egypt. It is interesting to note that we are told that we are to sing G-d’s praise, exalt and relate His wonders on this night. A little retrospection leads us to question who put us in Egypt in the first place? The Torah relates that Hashem told Avraham that his children would serve a foreign people in a land not theirs, and they would be afflicted harshly before being redeemed. It seems that it was already prophesised that we would be in exile. If so how can we praise G-d for taking us out of Egypt if He is the one that put us there in the first place? This question can be further understood by a Mashal, a man was dying- he had fallen off his ship and been drowning in the ocean. He had swallowed a great deal of water, and just at the last second a Dr who was in a small boat managed to bring him up and resuscitate him. He survived. The man was forever grateful to this Dr for saving his life. Similarly why is it that we are so grateful to Hashem for taking us out of Egypt, He put us there in the first place?

The Dubna Magid brings the Gemara in Berachot (5) Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai said, “G-d gave to Israel three good gifts, each of them were only given through the hands of suffering. The three are: Torah, the Land of Israel and the world to come”. Sufferings are a refinement. They burn away the waste. They cleanse and purify the material in order that a person may ascend to a level where he will be fit to receive the gift destined for him. Similarly Hashem put the Bnei Yisrael in suffering, he placed us BeKur Habarzel, in the iron furnace, he molded us and refined us like a fiery furnace, for only a nation that had passed through and experienced the fierce servitude in Egypt could relate to how to serve Hashem.

Rav Ovadiah Yosef Zts’l explains further, that when Hashem redeemed Am Yisrael, He could have just dealt one massive Plague that would have finished off the Egyptians and allowed the Jews to go, why did Hashem chose to send ten plagues? He answers with an awesome parable. Every wife knows which dish her husband enjoys. If she wants to get on his good side she will cook him his favorite dish. Normally this comprises of a main meal and side dish etc. The restaurant Chef, however does not know who will be popping in that day, and what kind of food they enjoy and therefore has to muster up a menu catering for a large number of possibilities. He has to show that he is an expert cook in all these dishes in order to impress all the clientele. The plagues were HaShem’s way of revealing himself in Egypt. Were He to reveal himself in one manner, people would have thought he was restricted to that one manner. Thus Hashem catered for all, and revealed himself in a manner that was clear that he was in control of all the elements. Rav Ovadiah Zts’l comments further that the prophet promises us in the Name of Hashem (regarding the future redemption): “as in the days when you left the land of Egypt, I will show wonders” (Micha 7:15). Chazal comment on this “as in the days when you left the land of Egypt I will show wonders – more than the wonders I did with your forefathers” (Yalkut Shimoni Bshalach remez 25). How can we explain these words of Chazal, does the Pasuk not imply that the upcoming miracles will be EQUAL to those performed in Egypt? How can Chazal conclude from this Pasuk that the wonders of the future redemption will be GREATER than those experienced in Egypt?

The invention of the telephone generated tremendous excitement. What a miracle! Imagine being able to speak here and being heard in another house! Today, however, if we try to call America and do not get through we immediately complain to the telephone company. It is all so simple today, there is nothing new in being able to be heard in America. The only way to generate excitement is to show something even more novel, on a greater level than being able to speak to someone in America.

The same may be said regarding HaShem’s “miracles”. The fact that water can be transformed into blood and that a non-Jew can drink blood from the same cup from which a Jew drinks water is nothing new to us, we have seen it all in Egypt. These are no longer “wonders” for us, but rather things which we are used to. We teach our children every year about these great events. When the prophet promises us “wonders” in the future he must be referring to miracles beyond what we have seen in Egypt, for otherwise we would not be able to refer to them as “wonders” but rather as events we have seen before. May Hashem bless us to merit this prophesised GREATER Redemption hastily in our days. Amen.

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