The message in the first plague. Vaera



Stages of enslavement in Egypt

“And all the water in the river turned into blood” (7:22). “I will also condemn the people who will be served,” this is what the Creator said to Abraham when he announced to him about the Egyptian exile. And indeed, the executions came one after another, in order. The first among them was the transformation of water into blood. Why did the Creator start with this misfortune? What message is contained in it?

Gaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein found in it an instruction that cannot leave us indifferent. The Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel, slaughtered their children to bathe in their blood, drowned boys in the river, walled them up in walls. These were monstrous cruelties, unprecedented evil! But, on the other hand, they undoubtedly had some kind of social laws - a system of institutions that brought order to the lives of citizens and took care of their well-being. Such a system is likened to living water, from which creatures reproduce and multiply...

The moment of the first execution arrived. This was the most fundamental punishment, which revealed the secret and removed the veil: the water of the Egyptians is itself blood!

Evil and perversion have penetrated all levels of life. If violence occurs on the street, it enters the home. If there is no rein to restrain the rulers, then ordinary workers become unbridled. If they steal weapons in the army, they will steal money from an ATM. Morality is never “halfway.”

All this can be illustrated by the following real story. One person tried to call from a public phone. Perhaps someone else remembers: such a phone worked when tokens were inserted into it. And so, the device “swallowed” the token thrown at it. The telephone company owed this man a free call.

After some time, he came across a damaged public telephone, which allowed him to call for free and without restrictions. Doing this is, of course, prohibited, as it would be considered theft. But our hero asked Rabbi Yaakov Kanevsky, the author of the book “Kehilot Yaakov,” if it was possible to use this phone for just one call in order to return the missing token...

The Gaon revealed the Gemara (Berachot 5b) to him: if a thief stole money from your pocket, do not steal the money back from his pocket, wanting to return your property. Otherwise, you will feel the pleasure of a thief and thereby ruin your soul! Detain him, bring him to court, but don’t put your hand in his pocket... It’s the same here: making a free call on a damaged phone is allowed, but this accustoms the soul to dishonesty. This is why you should refrain from doing this. What a wonderful lesson, what a sublime example of morality!

Let's tell another story (ha-Meorot ha-Gdolim). The authorities announced that the rabbis were to gather for a congress in St. Petersburg, and Chafetz Chaim needed sheets of paper to keep notes. He didn't have any, and the stores were closed that day. The businessman Rabbi Zelig Persits told him that the Rabbi from Lubavitch (Admor Rashab) undoubtedly had the paper. He stayed at the same hotel, and when he heard the request, he immediately offered to take a notebook for writing.

Chafetz Chaim handed him a penny in response. The Rabbi of Lubavitch grinned and refused to accept her. Then Chafetz Chaim put the notebook aside and did not take it until his interlocutor agreed to take payment for it.

Rabbi Zelig was surprised: “Don’t you know that for a rabbi your copper penny is worth nothing?”

To this, Chafetz Chaim gave an explanation: “I have established for myself an inviolable principle: not to take anything for free. After all, one person never knows what another’s heart is thinking about (Psachim 54 b). Sometimes when you ask for something, it is not given to you from the heart. And if you take such a gift, a grain of theft is mixed in with it...

It is true that a penny does not have much value. But if you steal a penny, an angel of destruction can emerge from it, capable of tearing down all the walls of St. Petersburg on his own!”

Now let's do the math. If such is the power of an accuser born from one sin - from a “grain of theft” the size of one penny, then what is the power of an angel, a righteous intercessor, who is born from the most common commandment - one of those we perform every day? We are talking about the commandment of studying the Torah.

According to the calculations of the Chafetz Chaim, who claimed that you can read two hundred words in a minute, it turns out that for studying for half an hour an army of twelve thousand such angels is born! (Mayan HaShavua)