Torah Insights for Shabbat
Parshat Vaera 5758
January 24, 1998
Hashem tells Moshe that he should speak to Aaron and tell him to take his staff and strike the Nile River. Moshe wasn't commanded to do the job himself, Rashi explains, "because the Nile protected Moshe when he was cast into the river; it was not to be smitten by his hand--not in the plague of blood and not in the plague of frogs."This notion also held true for the plague of lice. Moshe was not to strike the earth to bring on the plague because that very earth had saved him when he used it to bury the Egyptian taskmaster whom he had killed.
In this manner, the Torah is teaching us how deeply we must feel gratitude, not only to human beings who help us but even to inanimate objects such as water and sand.The Rosh Yeshiva quoted a case from the Shita Mekubetzes. A wealthy man lost his fortune and needed to sell his bathhouse to satisfy creditors. The famous rabbi, the Rif, lived in that city and was asked to assess its value, but declined to do so because he had personally benefited from the use of the bathhouse.
To this the Shita Mekubetzes writes: "If this internal feeling of gratitude by the Rif applied to an inanimate bathhouse, how much more so should a person be sensitive to the feelings of a human being."IIn Bemidbar, Moshe is commanded to take vengeance on the nation of Midyan, and while he did not hesitate to go into battle, he nonetheless did not lead the troops himself. Because he had lived in Midyan many years earlier and felt gratitude toward his former homeland, it would not be proper for him to personally fight this battle.
Rashi, at the beginning of the Chumash, tells us that the world was created for something called reishis. Bikurim, the first fruits of the harvest, are called reishis, and we can thus learn that the world was created so that one could bring these first fruits, which show appreciation for the bounty of the Almighty. One who displays the trait of gratitude fulfills the purpose of creation.One who shows ingratitude, on the other hand, is described by the Talmud as "an ingrate, son of an ingrate." This appellation was applied to the Jews who complained to Moshe in the Sinai Desert. They had, it seems, inherited their lack of appreciation for Hashem's favors from the first human, Adam, who, when asked why he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, told G-d, "The woman you placed beside me caused me to eat." Adam, in a sense, blamed Hashem for his own failings. Throughout History, man is confronted with the opportunity to show his gratitude or to deny his debt to another.
Rabbi Ruderman related that once a certain bochur came to the Chofetz Chaim's yeshiva in Radin, the Chofetz Chaim personally arranged proper accommodations for the young boy. He explained that many years before, this boy's grandfather had been kind to him in Vilna and thus he showed the grandson his appreciation.In our generation, much of the strife that is found can be traced to a failing in displaying gratitude, especially toward spouses and other family members. One who develops this trait of gratitude is a much happier person and certainly sees more satisfaction in his interpersonal relationships.
Rabbi Leonard Oberstein
Click Here For OU Torah Insights 5758 Parasha Index
Click Here For OU Torah Insights 5757 Parasha Index
Click Here To Show Your Support The Cyber Home of Torah