Parshat Bo: "Oh, After Midnight"
YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva
8 Shvat 5767/26-27 January 2007
OH, AFTER MIDNIGHT
In his hit song, Eric Clapton tells us that after midnight you are going to "let it all hang out". Lehavdil: In our parsha, Moshe tell Pharaoh that “about midnight” Hashem will strike down and kill all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. “And Moshe said, 'So said Hashem, at about midnight I shall go out in the midst of Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die - from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave woman who is behind the millstone, and all the firstborn animals.'”
Now, would it not have been easier for Moshe to tell Pharaoh at midnight - and not at “about midnight”? Why was it necessary for Moshe to say “about”? Was his watch off a few minutes, that he did not know when exactly midnight was? Should Moshe’s generation have chipped in and bought him a Rolex?
Rashi, quoting the Midrash, teaches us the reason: So as not to let Pharaoh and his servants have room for a mistake, for if Moshe had said midnight, even though Hashem is exact and it would start exactly at midnight, Pharaoh and Co. are not so exact, and they could make a mistake which would then be that according to their account the plague would start a minute or two before or a minute or two after midnight. Pharaoh and Co. would be able to say: See, the plague was not at midnight, as you said, but before or after - that being the case, this plague was not from G-d, and Moshe is a liar.
Understand this well: For the last year, Pharaoh and the Egyptian have had their entire country destroyed by nine plagues, which devastated the entire country - from having all their crops eaten up to the cattle wiped out, to their water and economy turned into turmoil, just to name a few. Still, all that Pharaoh and his servants are interested in, even after being hit by the worst plague of them all - the death of their firstborn - is that maybe Moshe is off by a minute or two. Why? So as to have a reason to say that the plagues are not from Hashem, but rather, they all are just a coincidence. Unbelievable as it might sound at this late stage of the game for Pharaoh and Co., they still hold on to any thing, rather than accept Hashem’s ultimate authority in this world. Even something so small as a minute or two before or after midnight would give them reason to throw off Hashem’s yoke.
This is what our Rabbis teach us - that the wicked, even at the gates of Gehinom - Hell - still do not repent. Even when confronted with overpowering truth, they refuse to see and continue to hold on to their falsehoods until they are consumed. This is what the prophet Isaiah tells us regarding what will take place at the end of days. “Who would believe what we have heard? For whom has the arm of Hashem been revealed? He was despised and isolated from men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness.” The nations have despised the Jewish people throughout our long history, looked down upon us and trampled on us, belittling the idea that the Jews have been chosen and separated from the nations of the world at the Revelation of Sinai. Still, at the end of days, the unstoppable truth will emerge, and even as it does, they will still hold on to their falsehoods.
With this in mind it should come, then, as no surprise that this week “Encyclopaedia Judaica” the world's most profound Jewish encyclopaedia, came out in its new edition with a report about biblical Moshe, saying that they are rather sceptical if Moshe ever really existed: “We cannot even be sure that Moses was a historical character."
Would we find such an article by Muslims about the existence of Mohammed? I’d like to see how long that author would live. Or an X-tian writing that Jesus did not exist? Of course not! But here, a supposed "Jewish" encyclopaedia, in a scholarly work, takes upon itself to destroy the very foundation of Judaism. Shame on them! If only the authors of the encyclopaedia would have looked at their watches, they would have seen that it's only a few minutes to midnight...
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