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The Crown of Halacha

Yitro 5777 – Remember Hashem’s Wrath

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Shemos

Yitro 5777 – Remember Hashem’s Wrath

When the Jews were about to receive the Torah, Hashem told Moshe to remind them, “You saw what I did to the Egyptians…” (Shmos 19:4)

The Ohr Hachaim asks, “Isn’t it more important for Moshe to remind us that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim? Isn’t the redemption more important than the war itself?”

A Dangerous Loss of Identity

We can Answer this with a Parable:

The daughter of the King was sent to live in a far off town. It was meant to be a temporary stay but as time passed the citizens realized how important she was and devised a plan to keep her. They slowly gave her more and more work until she was so busy she forgot she was a princess and became one of them.

Eventually, the King came to visit and she barely recognized him. At this point, he decided to take her home immediately before the situation worsened to a point of no return. So he executed the evil citizens and razed their town.

Look What Happens to the Enemies of Hashem:

When the king restored the princess to her position of honor he was concerned that she might desire at some point to return to the corrupt lifestyle. So he decided to put a scare into her and told her not to forget what she saw him do to the corrupt citizens who were executed. Yet he also wanted to show her how much he loved her so he told her to remember the destruction he wrought was in revenge for them holding her captive.

Love Through Proper Fear

The Ohr Hachaim answers that Hashem wanted more than to just remind us that we have a special relationship with him through redemption. He wants us to fear Him so we won’t fall again, and He wants us to love Him in order that we exert ourselves to come close to Him. This is why he reminded us of what we saw; the memory of the Egyptians drowning in the sea to strike fear in the hearts of those who rebel, and the destruction of Egypt to arouse love because we see how great Hashem’s vengeance is towards those who raise their hand against us.

Will Your Jewishness Survive Without Torah?

But why mention Mitzrayim at all at the time of receiving the Torah?  Isn’t receiving the Torah so monumental that it needs no supporting reason for us to accept it?

By mentioning Mitzrayim at the time of receiving the Torah, Hashem is warning us to follow the Torah. “Look what happened to you without the Torah, you sunk to the 49th level! If I would’ve waited for any longer there would be no difference between you and the Egyptians!”

Being Jewish is a Full-Time Occupation

By definition, we all have a special relationship with Hashem because we were redeemed. Yet, if one wants to elevate his relationship to Hashem he has to act with both fear and love of Hashem. But fear and love are not enough if one only occasionally acts as a Jew. One must remember that by letting go of the Torah at any moment he will fall backward towards assimilation.




Series Navigation<< Beshelach 5777 – Seeing is BelievingMishpatim 5777 – A Fair Trial >>
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