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Many Thoughts!

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil

You’re late for a very important business meeting. The Chazan finishes the Amida – and you wait for the potential good news – no Tachanun. But it doesn’t come!

You check your watch and decide time out. Off go the Tefilin and before you know it your in the car on the way to the meeting.

Fait has it of course that every traffic light you seem to approach – turns red!

In an undertone you can hear yourself claiming – it wouldn’t have made any difference if I would have stayed in Shul 5 extra minutes. (Of course it would have made all the difference as each extra minute with Tefilin and each Amen gains eternal reward!)

Shlomo Hamelech stated – Rabot Machshavot –”Many thoughts are in a man’s heart, but Hashem’s advice will prevail (Mishlei 19:21).

We think we are gaining by leaving early, but Hashem sometimes has a different plan.

In this weeks Parasha, Moshe, was commanded to avenge the attack on the Children of Israel by the Midianites before his death. Rashi comments that even though Moshe knew that his death would follow, he did this with joy and did not procrastinate.

We can ask, how did Rashi know that Moshe acted joyfully? Perhaps he felt sadness and only did this because of G-d’s command.

The “Kli Yakar” (Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Lunshitz) explains that the answer can be found in the changes Moshe made when repeating G-d’s words. Whereas G-d said: “Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites; afterward you shall be gathered unto your people,” Moshe changed his words and said: “…execute Hashem’s vengeance on Midian”. Moshe said to himself: If I repeat the words as they were spoken, that they should go to war with Midian for their own honour and afterwards I will be gathered up unto my people, the Children of Israel will say: We forego the vengeance and let Moshe not die! Therefore Moshe changed the wording and said: …” Hashem’s vengeance on Midian.” The vengeance is for the honour of the Almighty, and this you cannot forego.

This type of message can only result form joy, not sadness.

Our sages, who expressed Moshe’s greatness, mention in that same Midrash that not everyone merits rising to such a high level. Even a spiritual giant like Yehoshua did not achieve that degree of selflessness demonstrated by Moshe.

Our sages taught: It is written in Yehoshua (1:5) “As I was with Moshe, so will I be with you.”

Yehoshua should have lived 120 years like Moshe! Why was his life shorter by 10 years? When G-d told Moshe: “Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites; afterward you shall be gathered unto your people,” and even if this heralded Moshe’s death, he acted quickly “and Moshe sent them”. But when Yehoshua was about to fight against the 31 kings, he said “If I kill them immediately, I will die right away, just like Moshe or teacher. What did he do? He delayed the war with them, as it is written (Yehoshua 11):

“Yehoshua made war a long time with all those kings.”

G-d said to him: “Have you done everything? Behold, I will shorten your life by 10 years.” (Bamidbar Rabba 22)

Yehoshua thought that he would prolong the war and live longer. Hashem wasn’t happy with this conduct and the opposite occurred. So said Shlomo “Many thoughts are in a man’s heart, but G-d’s counsel will prevail.” (Mishlei 19:21):

In fact on a deeper level, throughout Jewish history these famous words have rung out, symbolising G-d’s Guiding Hand in our eventful history.

The entire exile to Egypt was as a result of Yosef going out to look for his brothers.

There were no GPS’s in those days. He was not looking for a specific address. He was out in the field in the middle of nowhere.

Yosef should have gone back to Yaakov and told him “I tried to find them but I was not successful. They were nowhere to be found.”

But the Almighty wanted Yosef to find his brothers and A man found him and behold he was blundering in the field…”(Bereishit 37:15) Yosef was ‘found’ by a man who helped guide him to his brothers.

He went off to see them, they sold him to Egypt and the rest is history.

The Ramban on this Pasuk ” says four very important words.

HaGezeira Emet V’haCharitzut Sheker.

When G-d wants something to happen, He makes it happen!

HaGezeira Emet – what G-d has decreed is true (it will happen), V’haCharitzut Sheker and the diligence of man is false.

Man can plan and do this and that but in the final analysis, if G-d wants something to happen, it will happen and if He does not want it to happen, it will not happen.

This is Jewish history. This is the whole story of the exile to Egypt. It was all hanging on Yosef finding his brothers.

Once in the depth of servitude in Egypt, we see that Pharaoh wanted to get rid of the Jewish boys. He decreed that all male children be thrown into the Nile.

Pharaoh stated – Hava Nitchakma Lo Pen Yirbeh – Let’s  come up with a plan lest they increase in population…   R Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Zts’l explained that the numeric value (Gematria) of this phrase is 918.

Pharaoh wanted to bring down our population;

G-d has a different plan: Vayomer Lahem Elokim Pru Urvu… – and G-d said to them: Be fruitful and  multiply. This also has a numerical value of 918.

And so it was that G-ds plan overrode Pharaohs plan.

Similarly when it came to Moshe’s birth – pharaoh was told by his astrologers that the saviour of the Jewish people would be born. He decreed that every male baby be thrown into the river. And it was – even Moshe Rabenu himself was thrown into the Nile as an infant.

Pharaoh decreed – Kol Haben Hayilod Hayora Tashlichu – numerical value of 1154.

And Hashem had other plans – but G-d’s counsel will prevail – Atsat Hashem Hi Takum – 1154.

Pharaoh’s own daughter came down just then to bathe, saved Moshe, and he was raised in Pharaoh’s own palace. It was as a result of his own plan that the future Jewish leader was raised not as a slave, but as a prince who learned the protocols of leadership.

It is only when we tap into and connect ourselves to Hashem, that we are able to attach to the infinite.

Hashem has been with us and will always be with us throughout history. If we make our will like the will of the creator – we cannot fault.

Many are the thoughts in the hearts of man, and G-d’s plan is what emerges.

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