For the past three weeks, I’ve been learning in the mornings at home, since all the kids cannot go to school and my wife needs to work. In the afternoons, I get to go to the kollel to learn and I have the honor of sitting next to two 12-year-olds who spend their afternoon in the kollel learning. Obviously, these are not normal 12-year-olds. Most 12-year-old boys have a natural ADHD. These two don’t. They actually enjoy learning Gemara, which is wonderful, but, unfortunately, not normal. Of course, they are both super-brilliant, so I also hate them.
I happened to overhear an argument they were having this week about something. I just happened to see something in my own learning that would settle the argument, so I spoke up and gave my opinion. They didn’t believe me, so I went back and told them the source. It happened to have been a Tosfos on the exact page of Gemara that they were on. They quickly looked it over, realized the answer, and thanked me.
It felt really good to the 43-year-old to “best” two 12-year-olds.
Stupid smart kids.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve “witnessed” Hashem take apart Egypt little by little. Taking apart the superpower of the day and reducing it to rubble. Moshe and Aharon could have easily walked into Pharaoh’s chamber, smacked him around a few times, and say in an Italian accent, “Hey, buddy … Let. My. People. Go … Now.” And that would be the end of that. Rather, Hashem deliberately carried everything out slowly and painfully. Why? Answers the Torah, “I’ve also done it so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians.”
What’s the point of this “mockery”?
When fighting the Yetzer Horah, one needs to attack two “bases” of his. The first is the head. By understanding the logic of the Torah and the intellectual side of the Torah, one can understand why one should do mitzvos and stay away from avreiros. In fact, we don’t necessarily need Torah involved in this. A smoker who knows nothing, can learn all about the dangers of smoking and then decide that he really needs to quit.
Yet, that’s not enough. If it were, we would all be tzaddikim and there would be no more smokers left. The problem is the body. There are still cravings, physically and emotionally. And THAT is what gets in the way of our growth more than anything else. Ask the smoker why he can’t quit despite knowing all the dangers involved, and he won’t be able to give you a logical answer.
Many times you need to bring in the emotional part in order to make a person realize the danger he is in. When a smoker loses his close relative to lung cancer, that could be the catalyst to his quitting. The same is true with our outlooks in life.
Remember, most Jews did not make it out of Egypt. Many wanted to remain, and even those who did leave, had ties to Egypt. They were born and raised there. So, in order to get Egypt out of their system, Hashem needed to make a mockery of Egypt. He had to make a fool out of Pharaoh for all to see, so by the time they left Egypt, they would not WANT to have any connection with it.
As you know, I’m not part of the “Corona is here = Moshiach is on his way” crowd. He could come today. Or maybe not. I don’t know. It’s not my business. But, if there was one thing that makes me feel that perhaps he is, is watching what is happening in the world and how Hashem is making a mockery of our “leaders” that we put so much faith into.
In America, you had the Right-Wing Moshiach, Donald Trump, who was supposed to “clean the swamp” and bring peace and prosperity to the land. In the end, his big mouth and his larger-than-life ego lost his re-election and destroyed his “legacy.”
Then comes the Left-Wing Moshiach, Joe Biden, who is supposed to bring peace and love throughout the land, no matter what color, religion, or one of the 25 genders there are, unless of course, you are Conservative. Yet, here’s a man who can barely make sense when he speaks. And I’m not talking about the good ol’ George Bush Junior faux pas. I’m talking about real signs of real issues.
But what’s really amazing? People actually loved and trusted one and thoroughly hate and despise the other. There is such an emotional investment in them one way or another, even amongst the religious. Yet, they both represent American society today: it’s run by idiots who were voted in by idiots. It’s a joke! America has a system where, in theory, competent people can be voted in and do good, but it’s all dependent on the voter. Well, that tells you something.
And in Israel? We’ve been in constant lockdown for nearly a year. My kids have barely spent any time in school. The right and left wing are busy punching each other in the faces, saying that they can do better, without explaining how. Heck, we're going to our fourth election in two years, and we all KNEW it was going to happen last year! Even the religious party leaders have joined in the party. One of them, so “wisely” got up in the Knesset and blamed the non-religious lawmakers for “forcing” the religious to live in small apartments, with their large families, in packed communities. And yet this same lawmaker will wonder why his party is not enjoying the support of his “constituents” as it used to.
Hashem is making a mockery of things around the world, specifically those people and institutions we have always put our faith in. Whether it’s Democracy, Socialism, Trump, Biden, Netenyahu, Litzman, Gantz, etc., we trust them. We fear them. We love them. We hate them.
When the Jews left Egypt, they did not trust, nor fear, nor love, nor hate Pharaoh. They were laughing at him. They were laughing at the society that he built which crumpled before their own eyes. And in the end, we too will look upon all these “leaders,” and simply laugh at them and perhaps even bemoan the time and energy we wasted trusting them or even thinking about them.
May we learn this lesson sooner rather than later and keep our focus on more important things. You know … like Torah and Mitzvos.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!