I Believe Me
in honor of those that kept our shul covered - thank you for
sponsoring our roof!
May your ability to be generous never cease !
The Torah describes a nation with no place to turn: [Shemos, 14]
6. So he
[Pharaoh] harnessed his chariot, and took his people with him.
He took six hundred select chariots and all the chariots of Egypt,
with officers over them ... and he chased after Bnei Yisrael ....
were marching out triumphantly. The
Egyptians chased after them and overtook them encamped by the sea
every horse of Pharaoh's chariots, his horsemen, ...Pharaoh drew
near, and the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold!
the Egyptians were advancing after them.
The Jews turn to and on Moshe:
They said to Moses,
Is it because there are no
graves in Egypt that you have taken us to die in the desert?
What is this that you have done to us to take us out of Egypt?
A swift R. Hirsch digression teaches us the value of a good line:
This sharp irony (out of graves, Moshe? ) even in moments of
deepest anxiety and despair is characteristic of the witty vein
which is inherent in the Jew ... from their earliest beginnings
Humor counts! It is one of Hashem's great gifts to mankind. To laugh
at oneself is to be able to see a bigger picture; the ultimate
laughter of course is saved for the end [Bereishis Rabah, 52:3]
Vatischak l'yom acharon - And she laughs on the final day (Mishlei
31:25) . What is the meaning of on the final day? That all the
reward of the righteous awaits them in the world to come, from where
: And she laughs on the final day ... R. Abbahu as he was about to
depart from this life, beheld all the good things that were stored
up for him in heaven, whereat he rejoiced and said: 'All these are
But there's a question here: Yes - the Egyptians have 600 elite
chariots and a large force of people - but consider that 600,000+
mens were all massed in one place. Why did the Jews consider
themselves stuck ? A remarkable Ibn Ezra opens up a penetrating
psychological window: [14:13]
One must wonder - how could a camp of over 600,000 men be afraid
of their pursuers - and why would they not fight for their souls and
for their children? The answer is that the Egyptians were masters
over Yisrael and this generation that left Egypt learned from their
youth to suffer the yoke of Egypt; its soul was low and how could
they now fight against their masters.... And Hashem alone
establishes the pattern and sets the plans that the whole male
nation that left Egypt would die for they would not be able to fight
It's not them - It's us! The Jew was and remained a slave; long
after the shackles were removed, he was still unable to fathom
overcoming his master. The abusive relationship perpetuated itself
to the point that Jew, even at the banks of the Yam Suf, post
plagues was unable to escape his Mitzrayim mindset. Liberation then
begins with self re-assessment.
A striking contrast gives us a glimpse within the inner mindset of
royalty divorced from its this-worldly trappings. The background: a
Talmudic description of King Solomon's descent: [Sanhedrin 20b]
.... so did he [Solomon] reign over the whole world. But
eventually his reign was restricted to Israel, as it is written, I
Koheleth have been king over Israel etc. Later, his reign was
confined to Jerusalem alone, ... And still later he reigned only
over his couch, .... ....And finally,
he reigned only over his
stick ... Did he regain his first power, or not?
Rab and Samuel [differ]:
One maintains that he did; the other, that he did not.
Shlomo sinks to utter powerlessness and yet the Talmud depicts
Shlomo as King of His stick. Is this classic Talmudic irony
or reflective of something even deeper? In a classic mussar vort ,
Rav Chaim Shmuelevits explains:
Even after his descent, the wisest man of all found a method to
not sink into depression. What did he do? He remained king over his
stick - even though he had only a stick, he retained his regal
bearing - even in his
present state of pverty and this is what allowed him to return to
his throne as before [Sichos Mussar, 5731, Ki Tisa p.
In pithy Ishbitzer terminology: In that stick, resided
Shlomo HaMelech's whole world!
A powerful R. Yaakov Galinsky [ a powerful and famous passionate
Bnei Brak maggid] story brings it home!
In a Siberian slave labor camp, Rav Galinsky and so many others
suffered unbearable and inhuman pain and misery. The Russians did
not single out Jews . Whoever fell into their clutches was
imprisoned and relegated to performing backbreaking labor under
brutal conditions. After a full day's work the men would trudge back
to their barracks ... and attempt to fall into a painfully fitful
Every night at approximately 2:00AM, one of the Polish prisoners
would arise from his "bed" and remove a bag that was hidden beneath
his bed. He would quickly remove what appeared to be some kind of a
uniform, put it on, view himself in the mirror, quickly remove the
suit, and go back to sleep.
.... To force oneself to arise in the middle of the night just to
put on a suit seemed irrational. ...One day, when they were alone,
Rav Galinsky asked the man to explain his behavior, "Why do you
arise in the middle of the night to put on your suit and view
yourself in the mirror? Do you not value your sleep?"
"Yes, Rabbi, my sleep is very important to me, but so are my
sanity and dignity. Let me explain. Prior to being taken captive by
our Russian tormentors, I was a distinguished general in the Polish
army. I had the respect of thousands of soldiers. Suddenly, our army
was vanquished and I became a prisoner. The degradation and
depravation to which they subject us is, in my opinion, a greater
danger than the physical blows which they rain down on us on an
almost constant basis. At all costs, I had to prevent them from
getting into my mind and destroying it. Therefore, every night when
everybody is fast asleep, I risk removing my general's uniform which
I was able to retain in my possession. I don the uniform and look in
the mirror. For two minutes, I see before my eyes my true self - my
position and my status. I do not see a broken down, frail prisoner.
I see a general in the Polish army! This is how I am able to
maintain my sanity."
Royalty and Slavery then are mindsets more than body modes. With
regard to one's ability to overcome, self perception and inner
royalty makes all the difference in the world.
And for us, a generation that suffers from chronic self esteem, from
whence do we purchase a potent dosage of healthy self perception -
in order to be empowered servants of Hashem?
Just etch these incredible words of R. Tzadok HaKohen [Tzidkas
HaTzaddik 154] on your heart forever:
כשם שצריך אדם להאמין בהש"י כך צריך אחר כך להאמין
בעצמו, רוצה לומר שיש להש"י עסק עמו ושאינו פועל בטל, שבין לילה היה
ובין לילה אבד... רק (אלא) צריך להאמין כי נפשו ממקור החיים יתברך שמו
והש"י מתענג ומשתעשע בה כשעושה רצונו וזה פירוש ויאמינו בה' ובמשה עבדו
(שמות טו')... רצה לומר: כלל ששים רבוא נפשות ישראל בדור ההוא האמינו
שהש"י חפץ בהם.
Just as one must believe in Hashem, so one must then believe in
himself, - meaning that Hashem has involvement with him, ... he is
not a meaningless worker, who is here one night and gone the next
.... (Rather) he must believe that his soul comes from the
source of life, blessed be His Name and that Hashem delights and
playfully rejoices ... when one does His will [ this is the
meaning of "and they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant -
all 600,000 souls believed that Hashem desired them]
Being wanted and a real delight to God is life altering.
It gives one a sense of mission and the ability to overcome all
It is perhaps the singularly most important message we can give our
children/students and ourselves as we seek to lead inspired
ascendant lives of Kiddush Hashem.
May Hashem help us believe in ourselves - so that we can pass it
Good Shabbos, Asher
 In a remarkable analysis of why it is that Moshe had
to come from the outside, Ibn Ezra goes further [Shemos,
2:3] Perhaps Hashem arranged that Moshe should grow up
in the house of the king so that his soul will be on an
elevated state .... And he would not be habituated and lowly
in the house of slaves... do you not see that he slew the
Egyptian who acted violently and saved the Midianite
daughters from the shepherds ....
Moshe ability to redeem was rooted in his self perception as
a royal personality [even as he was the most humble of men]