The Potion to Heal All Suffering

This guest Drash is by Rachamim Bitton of Jerusalem's Nahar Shalom Yeshiva located in the Nachlaot neighborhood.

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shemot

Shemot 5777

This week’s Parsha begins teaches us about Bnei Yisrael beginning the painful and difficult years of exile with the backbreaking labour of Mitzrayim.

וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ חָדָשׁ עַל מִצְרָיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַע אֶת יוֹסֵף:

A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know about Joseph.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל עַמּוֹ הִנֵּה עַם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רַב וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ:

He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are.

הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה לוֹ פֶּן יִרְבֶּה וְהָיָה כִּי תִקְרֶאנָה מִלְחָמָה וְנוֹסַף גַּם הוּא עַל שׂנְאֵינוּ וְנִלְחַם בָּנוּ וְעָלָה מִן הָאָרֶץ:

Get ready, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they increase, and a war befall us, and they join our enemies and depart from the land.”
וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלָיו שָׂרֵי מִסִּים לְמַעַן עַנֹּתוֹ בְּסִבְלֹתָם וַיִּבֶן עָרֵי מִסְכְּנוֹת
לְפַרְעֹה אֶת פִּתֹם וְאֶת רַעַמְסֵס:

So they appointed over them tax collectors to afflict them with their burdens, and they built store cities for Pharaoh, namely Pithom and Raamses.

וְכַאֲשֶׁר יְעַנּוּ אֹתוֹ כֵּן יִרְבֶּה וְכֵן יִפְרֹץ וַיָּקֻצוּ מִפְּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:

But as much as they would afflict them, so did they multiply and so did they gain strength, and they were disgusted because of the children of Israel. (Shemot 8-12)

The Ohr Hachaim teaches us on this last pasuk that the labour itself was a rectification for their souls. The rectification of our souls is all about a ‘Birur’, a selection and clarification, a purification process though which the good is separated from the bad and joins its source of good while the bad is separated from the good and joins the rest of the bad.

When Adam sinned the whole world became mixed of good and evil. Even the plans and rocks are a mixture. Our goal in rectifying the world, Tikun Olam, is to bring clarity and purify this mixture so that all of existence becomes a clear and singular indication of Hashem’s unity.

When we go through challenges in our lives it is only for this purpose. It is to separate the parts within us which are not willing to accept the truth of Hashem’s unity from the parts within us which are. It is to make us come to a point of complete alignment of all the parts under Hashem’s kingship, and the truth of His unity.

However, if and when we accept the difficulties that befall us with complete acceptance, an acceptance of love, and through peace, content, and happiness, we shorten and lessen the time and severity of that suffering to the degree of our acceptance.

That acceptance in itself is the purification. It is the ‘birur’, and the alignment and so when we work to come to that acceptance despite our suffering we are taking the shortcut out of the difficulties and pain.

This is also part of the secret of how and why Bnei Yisrael served less time in the exile of Mitzrayim than what was originally decreed. Suffering, or ‘Yisurin’, is not an indication of a sadistic God, Heaven forbid. Yisurin are an indication that something is still in the process of its purification and rectification and that there is a misalignment which must be brought to its peaceful state of alignment.

When certain elements are being purified they too must undergo tremendous heat and pressure in order to reach their pure state. Imagine if the metals or other elements had a choice to proactively purify themselves from the inside and come to that state naturally. This is what acceptance is about.

The Kli Yakar explains that the Pasuk which teaches us about ‘New’ Pharaoh who “didn’t know Yossef”, is teaching us that this Paroh didn’t know the lessons which can be learned from the story of Yossef.

From the story of Yossef we see how the brothers tried to make sure the dreams of Yossef would not be realized and that they would not come to bow down to him as servants before their master and subjects before their king. They sold him as a slave to be sent far away and lost at the lowest level of society and this in itself was what caused the dreams of Yossef to be realized. It was from being a servant to Potifar that everything unfolded until he became the king and his brothers came to him as subjects before their king.

רַבּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת בְּלֶב אִישׁ וַעֲצַת יְהוָה הִיא תָקוּם:

There are many thoughts in a man’s heart, but God’s plan-that shall stand.
(Misheli 19, 21)

We must realize that no matter what, Hashem’s plan shall stand. We must know that whatever we do in order to resist Hashem’s plan, not only will Hashem’s plan always prevail but that itself which we do will bring the plan to be implemented. The only way out of Yisurin is to accept them wholeheartedly and then pray from this place of acceptance with belief and trust that Hashem wants nothing but what is the ultimate best case scenario for us and that He is all merciful and compassionate and loves us unconditionally and limitlessly.

Our Rabbis teach us סמא דיסורי קבולי, the potion or medicine to heal and remove suffering ‘Yisurin’ is accepting them.

We see that Paroh “didn’t know Yossef’, he didn’t know this important lesson we can learn from the life of Yossef and therefore, as the Torah continues to teach us,
Paroh said:

וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל עַמּוֹ הִנֵּה עַם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רַב וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ:

He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are.
הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה לוֹ פֶּן יִרְבֶּה וְהָיָה כִּי תִקְרֶאנָה מִלְחָמָה וְנוֹסַף גַּם הוּא עַל שׂנְאֵינוּ וְנִלְחַם בָּנוּ וְעָלָה מִן הָאָרֶץ:

Get ready, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they increase, and a war befall us, and they join our enemies and depart from the land.”

He then forced them into backbreaking labour:

וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלָיו שָׂרֵי מִסִּים לְמַעַן עַנֹּתוֹ בְּסִבְלֹתָם וַיִּבֶן עָרֵי מִסְכְּנוֹת לְפַרְעֹה אֶת פִּתֹם וְאֶת רַעַמְסֵס:

So they appointed over them tax collectors to afflict them with their burdens, and they built store cities for Pharaoh, namely Pithom and Raamses.

וְכַאֲשֶׁר יְעַנּוּ אֹתוֹ כֵּן יִרְבֶּה וְכֵן יִפְרֹץ וַיָּקֻצוּ מִפְּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:

But as much as they would afflict them, so did they multiply and so did they gain strength, and they were disgusted because of the children of Israel.

Rashi explains:

וכאשר יענו אתו: בכל מה שהם נותנין לב לענות, כן לב הקב”ה להרבות ולהפריץ:

But as much as they would afflict them: In whatever [way] they set their heart to afflict [them], so was the heart of the Holy One, blessed be He, to multiply [them] and to strengthen [them].

כן ירבה: כן רבה וכן פרץ. ומדרשו רוח הקודש אומרת כן אתם אומרים פן ירבה, ואני אומר כן ירבה:

so did they multiply and so did they gain strength: Heb. כֵּן יִרְבֶּה וְכֵן יִפְרֹץ, lit., so will they multiply and so will they gain strength. [It means, however,] so did they multiply and so did they gain strength. Its midrashic interpretation is, however: The Holy Spirit says this: You [Pharaoh] say, Lest they multiply, but I say, So will they multiply. [From Sotah 11a]

As much as he tried and more importantly-the more he tried to get rid of Bnei Yisrael Hashem made them grow them and strengthen them.

We must adopt this perspective and understanding and plug it into our attitude and behavior to strengthen our trust and faith in Hashem that no matter what obstacles and difficulties we go through in life that seem like we are getting further and further from our spiritual and physical goals and wellbeing-they are themselves that which will bring us to greater levels of health and wellbeing than we could have ever imagined possible. It all depends on our perspective and bringing ourselves to that peaceful inner state of true faith and trust in Hashem’s unconditional love for us and limitless will to give us ultimate good in a revealed and sweet way, already now, already here.

If every turn we make we turn to Hashem on the inside we will see how all those turns which seemed off course were actually shortcuts to the most pleasant and pleasurable outcome imaginable!

May we merit properly learning and implementing the lessons from Yossef’s life which Paroh missed, so that we see all the exile turned into redemption with the coming of Mashiach and the third Bet Hamikdash speedily in our days Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

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