Don't Play G-d

Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Parshas Shemos

Amram was the leader of the Jewish community in Goshen in the year 2,361. He was one of the only people alive that saw and remembered Yaakov Avinu. (Bava Basra 121) He was 105 years old, his wife, Yocheved, was 130. Together they had two fine children, Aharon and Miriam. Amram, as the Gadol HaDor, looked around and realized the plight of his people. The good times for the Jews were over. The Egyptian bondage was going from bad to worse. The slave situation was becoming more difficult and now Pharaoh had decided that all Jewish male children should be killed. Who could bring a child into this kind of world? As centenarians with two fine children they had already performed the mitzvah. Amram and Yocheved made a decision – no more children.

Amram divorced his wife Yocheved. The community watched Amram and began divorcing their wives. No more children. Why bring despair into the lives of innocent children? Why bring children into a world of hate and danger? Why complete Pharaohs dream?

A little girl called Miriam stood before her aged father. She was five years old! “Your decree is worse than the decree of Pharaoh,” she said, “Pharaoh decreed on males, your decree is on all children; Pharaohs decree was on this world, your decree is on this world and the world to come.”

Amram listened carefully to his daughter and immediately returned to his wife. All the Jews in Goshen began to return to their wives. “Normal” relations were restored. The cultural attitude changed. Women began to encourage their husbands. Families grew as Pharaoh grew more and more frustrated. A nation was created. Moshe Rabeinu was born.

“A man from the house of Levi took a daughter of Levi…” They made a chasuna. Aharon and Miriam danced before them, all of Israel danced before them, the Angels in Heaven danced before them. G-d Himself danced before them. (Medrash) The Jewish people would continue to live. Am Yisroel Chai!

This little girl stood before the Gadol HaDor and stated a truth that would remain infallible for the history of the Jews. “Don’t play G-d!” Don’t try to be smarter then G-d Himself. While Amram was trying to save children from suffering, G-d was creating the Jewish nation. Why the slavery why the deaths, why the oppression, why did Moshe have to be brought up as an Egyptian? Some of it I can explain and some of it no one can explain.

In my life of Kiruv, people would always ask why this Mitzvah isn’t old fashioned? Why the suffering? Where was G-d…? My answer was always the same – “I’m in sales – not in management!” We can guess we can try to figure it out, we can even understand but at the end we must rely on G-d.

My Rebbe, Rav Scheinberg, once told us that when he was at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Poland a fellow student from America was particularly noticeable for his fervor in learning and his charisma. I remember him describing how this particular student used to run to Reb Yeruchams shmuesen. Everyone was sure that this young man was destined to a great career in Torah. Many years later, Rav Scheinberg met this man in America, and discovered to his amazement that the man had become the Rabbi of a very large Reform congregation. He asked him what had happened, and this man explained that at the time (shortly after WWII) jobs in Orthodox Congregations were hard to come by, and he could become, at best, a rabbi of a little Shul and preach to a score of the already converted. If, on the other hand, he became a Rabbi of a large Reform congregation, he could bring the word of G-d to thousands of people. He did indeed have a great career as one of the Reform movement’s foremost spokesmen and an outspoken opponent of Orthodoxy. Rav Scheinberg’s lesson; don’t be smarter than G-d.

I look around and I see many instances of people one upping G-d:

The Torah says teach your children a trade or they will end up robbing people – we say “If they don’t learn all the time, Yiddishkeit will fall apart.”

The Torah says don’t steal from the Government – we say “but we’ll give more Tzedaka if we do”.

The Torah says be honest in business, - we say, “business is business”.

The Torah says daven with kavana and Hashem will take care of you – we say “let’s rush through davening so we can get to work”

The Torah says don’t be elitist we say, “your child doesn’t fit in our Yeshiva”.

The Torah says we must give every man the benefit of the doubt – we say “you can’t be stupid, truth will evaporate.”

The Torah says “al tischaber im rasha” don’t befriend evil people – we say “let’s sit down, talk and become friends”.

Perhaps the most important message of these Parshas is that G-d has a plan. We’re in sales; He’s in management.

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