Through The Eyes of a Woman
Shmos: Egyptian Heads and Jewish Heads
The people of Egypt were very bright. In those days, they were the smartest of
all nations, and to this day people cannot understand how they built the pyramids
without the assistance of modern machines and technology. To this day we see the
mummies that have been preserved for thousands of years, and yet they did not have
access to modern chemicals and medical know-how. The Egyptians were masters of astrology,
medicine, science and many other fields. Pharaoh was also no slouch. But Pharaoh
is a symbol of the anti-Jewish way of thinking.
There is a Jewish way of thinking and a goyish way of thinking. The two
are very very different. Pharaoh is the prime symbol of the goyish way of
thinking. When you read in the Torah that Pharaoh said this-and-this, take heed.
It is not just the Pharaoh of that generation that said that, but all through the
generations there is a Pharaoh saying the same thing. That is why HaShem
put these things in the Torah -- because He wants us to know how not
to think. There is an expression, "Forewarned is forearmed." That means that you
are taught in advance how to fight this kind of philosophy or outlook on life.
In this parshah Pharaoh tells Moshe to go mind his own business, to do
his own work, and to stop pestering the Jews about serving G-d. This is the eternal
statement made by the eternal Pharaoh. "Mind your own business," he says. "You like
to learn Torah? Go ahead. I won't bother you. I will not stop you from learning
Torah. But don't bother other people; don't make them learn Torah. You want to be
a frum Jew? Be a frum Jew, be a tzaddik. But leave other people
alone." When you hear people speak like this, you should know that this is the philosophy
of Pharaoh and it is anti-Jewish.
Spiritual death is far more severe than physical death according to the Jewish
view. If a person loses his life, as long as he has the World to Come, that's the
main thing. If he loses the World to Come, then there's nothing. What good is a
physical life if it's all over? One's person's love for a fellow Jew should motivate
him to enquire into his welfare. This doesn't mean that one is being nosy. Someone
told me that once she was very annoyed at a certain Lubavitcher person who seemed
to be very nosy and was very interested in her business. This person kept on bugging
her, until she lost her temper and shouted, "Why are you bothering me? This is
my life. What business of yours is my life?" That is the goyish way
of thinking. And it was only years later, when she had changed a lot, that she was
able to see that what she took to be annoying pestering was actually a great kindness.
One has to be like a mother. From your own experience you know what it's like
when you have to give a dose of medicine, or when you have to remind your children
to wear a coat. As a mother you really care about your child, but the response is
generally, "Oh Mom, leave me alone, you're making me nervous." If we would really
care about another Jew's spiritual life, we wouldn't feel like we were being a pain
in the neck. There's too much at stake. The Torah says, "Love another Jew like yourself."
When it comes to yourself, you don't say, "Oh, I did enough for myself," do you?
The Mezritcher Maggid once said that he wished we could kiss the Sefer Torah
with the same love that his mentor, the Baal Shem Tov, loved every Jewish child.
The Baal Shem Tov was one of those very rare individuals who loved Jews because
they were Jews, even if they were not learned or bright or rich. If we are trying
so hard to raise ourselves to a higher level, how can we be satisfied if
other Jews are on a lower level? Try to raise them to a higher level. And if you
don't, you can be jeopardizing not only your own mission in life, but also the redemption
of the entire Jewish nation from galus. This is a point which the Rebbe quotes
from the Rambam very often -- the redemption of the Jewish people
could be dependent upon a single action that tips the scales in our favor. So don't
think so much. Do not put it off for a week or a day or even for a second. As soon
as you have the opportunity to help another Jew, do it -- right away.
HaShem wants to see all the Jews in all their levels, b'achdus
-- living in unity and harmony. A building is built of many parts, but
every part is connected to every other part to make the whole. Because we are all
connected, we could never say, "Well, what difference does it make if someone else
out there is stumbling, or is not behaving properly?" That's ridiculous. If the
roof is okay, but the basement is about to collapse, the entire building
is in danger. You want the whole house to remain standing, don't you?
Let us explain this further, using the analogy of an army. Supposing a general
announces that he is coming to inspect his troops. Of course he gives them time
to prepare -- to polish their shoes, iron their uniforms, etc. But, if
there is even one soldier who is not ready -- if his buttons were not
polished, or his uniform was a mess -- he isn't angry at the soldier.
He goes to the officer in charge and says, "What nerve! How come you didn't prepare
your unit for this review?" In other words, the general does not blame the individual
soldier, but the one in charge of him. If you see a little child walking in the
street and he looks like a mess, do you blame the child or the mother? You blame
the mother, right?
In the same way, the Rebbe says that each of us is responsible for our fellow
Jew who isn't yet as he should be, because we can do something about it. We cannot
sit complacently and say, "Oh, what's the difference. As long as I'm OK, I don't
have to worry." Because the Day of Judgment will come and HaShem may find
you guilty for the other person's deficiencies, because you could
have done something about it and you didn't. We all come into contact with people
who are less knowledgeable than us. We know that if we would care a little bit,
and expend some energy, we could dent that person's life in a positive way. This
is certainly within the reach of all of us.
When we reach this oneness and unity, we will merit the total oneness and unity,
when "G-d is One and His Name is One" will be revealed. But the Oneness of HaShem
is dependent on the oneness of the Jewish people. If you want to reach that era
when the unity of G-d will be revealed, be warm to your fellow Jews.