Giggling with God
This week’s Torah portion has the final three of the ten plagues that broke Pharaoh’s back and allowed the Israelites to finally leave Egypt after 210 years of slavery. At the outset of the parsha we are introduced to a new thought heretofore not mentioned by Moshe in his many warnings to Pharaoh during previous plagues. Moshe is told by God something additional that the plagues will accomplish:
(The plagues are) in order that I may place these signs of Mine in his (Pharaoh’s) midst and in order that you tell to your children and grandchildren how I made a mockery of the Egyptians.
Yeah, it wasn’t enough that God redeemed the Israelites from Egypt. The manner by which it was done – in a fashion that ridiculed the Egyptians – was essential and an integral part of what was to be related to future generations. We are told that we need to make sure that when relating the Exodus story, we include the fact that Egypt is a joke and that God is the comedian.
This notion is a bit foreign in our day and age where it is politically incorrect to mock anything no matter how absurd it might be. We are to be open-minded to all and not judge any particular system better than another. So while we live in a world today where it is highly unfashionable to criticize another belief system, the Torah is suggesting that sometimes it is necessary and important.
Apparently part and parcel of the Redemption was to expose the truth that the very notion and system of slavery that the Egyptians wrought against the Jewish people is one that was not sustainable in the long run. The whole economy of Egypt, based on the artificial reality of free labour that the Jewish slaves provided, came crashing down and was decimated. The 10 plagues didn’t just get the Israelites free but they also turned the country into shambles and ridiculed their belief system. Whatever gods and powers the Egyptians believed in were shown to be impotent in face of the One True God.
Whenever a system is based on false or immoral practices and principles, it is only a matter of time before that structure turns to sand and dissolves. Any society whose beliefs are not based in truth and good – values which are eternal because they are reflections of a true and just God – is bound to fail. God is Eternal and hence anything emanating from Him is likewise eternal and will last. Probably the biggest proof of this is the Jewish people. Conversely, anything which is contrary to God and the principles which He espouses and represents will wither and die.
Jewish tradition says that God’s seal is Truth – Emet in Hebrew. The Talmud points out that each Hebrew letter of the word, emet אמת has a double or full base, testifying to its solid nature. On the other hand, the word for lies, sheker שקר has a point at the base of each of its letters (the letter, shin ש when written in Torah script comes to a point) implying that it is shaky and cannot stand on its own. Truth is solid, eternal and will withstand challenges. Lies and falsehood are wobbly and do not.
Many of us have witnessed this Egyptian-like dissolution in our own lifetime with the demise of the USSR that imploded without a shot being fired. So much time, effort, finances, wars and worry animated Western society for decades in its struggle with Communism and the threat that it supposedly posed. And yet, when all was said and done, it was a completely one-sided battle with the opponent self-destructing and leaving just the pathetic ashes of a Cuban regime and its buffoon-like allies such as Hugo Chavez and now Maduro still holding onto its bankrupt Marxist philosophy.
We need to take this to heart when we feel threatened by the forces of evil that prevail throughout the world. One could only imagine the fear and anxiety the Israelites must have felt when they witnessed Egypt being destroyed in front of their eyes while they sat untouched in the midst of such a whirlwind. Their residence of Goshen was a tiny island of refuge and quiet as Egypt melted away at their doorstep.
In our day and age, for years we were fed the story that the Palestinian-Israel conflict was the lynchpin to peace in the region. The Arab Spring took care of exposing that canard. The dead and homeless of Syria and Yemen have nothing to do with Jerusalem. The recent Abraham Accords have hopefully put that lie to rest as Muslim nation after Muslim nation makes alliances with Israel, independent of the Palestinians and fully exposing the false prophecies of John Kerry and his ilk. Threats and warnings that were made but a few years ago are laughable today.
We have to always remember that ultimately Sheker/Lies have no teeth. Truth lives. Lies die.
I will never forget the “blessing” that former prime minister of Israel, Menachem Begin zt”l gave the Iranians and Iraqis during their war in the 80’s – “And may both sides win.” An apt and appropriate mocking quip at the time and for ours as well. When our enemies who seek our demise turn on themselves and self-destruct, the Almighty has a good giggle… and we laugh along with Him.
I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand