By Rabbi Yechezkel Spanglet
We asked last week why it was necessary to test B’nei Yisroel’s emunah once again at yam suf. In order to answer thus question, let’s return to the chet of Adam Harishone. What brought such an adam kodesh to sin? We know that his yetzer harah had not yet become internalized. Furthermore, aside from the one prohibition of eating from the eitz he was given the opportunity and even encouraged to enjoy all of the pleasures of Gan Eden. Therefore, when Adam carried out this fateful act, the Al-lmighty asked him “ “איכה-Where are you? What did you do? The Kadmonim explain Hashem’s inquiry in a deeper manner. Adam – how could you have broken the unimaginable kesher that exists between you and the Borei Olam? Why didn’t you humble yourself to His will?
Adam deflected the question and passed the buck, “The woman you have created for me, gave me to eat from the tree”, that is, it was her fault. And Chava subsequently blamed the nachash. At that moment, Adam and the entire world crashed from its high spiritual madrega because he did not submit his ego to the Al-lmighty’s will. Thus began the challenge of mankind for all generations to re-connect to Hashem through hachnu-uh and bring the world to back to the status of Adam Harishone before the chet.
At the Yam, B’nei Yisroel was faced with a choice, to collide head on with the army of Mitzrayim or jump into the yam suf. It was not the time for tefillah for the Al-lmighty said to Moshe Rabeinu, “Why do you cry out to me, speak to B’nei Yisroel that they travel forward.” (Shemos-14:15). Many of B’nei Yisroel decided to follow Hashem’s instructions at the risk of their lives. Although B’nei Yisroel showed emunah in Mitzraiyim, they were embraced with Hashem’s assistance and infinite chesed through the nisim and niflaos. On the other hand, at yam suf, B’nei Yisroel were required to bridle up their own emunah, the ultimate act of hachnu-uh to their Creator. (Nesivos Shalom – Pesach). Subsequently, they were saved by the Al-lmighty and were zocheh to the enormous booty of Mitzrayim.
What is the message for today? Actually, curtailing our ego, or in middos form, gaavah, remains one of the biggest challenges of our time. Many nisyonos and difficulties today with middos, interpersonal relationships, shalom bayit , chinuch banim, Yiddishkiet, machlokes, learning Torah, parnasa, lack of simcha and fulfillment, kavod etc. etc. are ego related.
An illustration of the yetzer harah of ga-avah comes from the annals Rav Levy Yitzchak of Barditzchev. Once Rav Levy Yitzchak was visiting a bait knesset and was very impressed with the kavanah displayed by one of the mispallelim. That Shabbos, the Rav of Barditzechev was astonished to see the same man enraged that he did not receive an aliyah. The Rav of Barditzev him and asked, I saw your impressive dovening a few days ago and I was convinced that you were a Yiras Shamayim. What happened? He replied, “Hashem realizes that I am humble person and worthy of kavod, but not the gabbai.” (Rav Levy Yitzchak of Berditchev-Artscroll)
A key to facing and growing from our stressful situations is to worry about Hashem’s kavod and run away from our own. If we want to resolve a disagreement we need to be willing to be mevater. If someone insults us, it’s worthy to forgive. If we feel that someone has wronged us it’s a good idea to judge them favorably. The common denominator of all of these praiseworthy actions is curtailing our ego and making assertive decisions to fulfill Hashem’s will, even though it may be very difficult and go contrary to our nature. The reward is limitless and the growth potential is vast. Sometimes we just need to jump in.