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S.A.L.T. - Friday

Rav David Silverberg
19.01.2023

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In loving memory of
Yitzchak ben Chaim Zvi Schwartz,
who passed away on 13 Shvat 5771
and Sheva Shayndel bat David Schwartz,
who passed away 13 Shvat 5778
by Avraham and Sarah Schwartz
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          We read in Parashat Bo that after the plague of darkness, Pharaoh reached the decision to allow Benei Yisrael to leave Egypt, on condition that they leave their cattle behind.  Moshe, however, refused, telling Pharaoh that not only would Benei Yisrael bring all their herds with them, but Pharaoh himself would give them animals to offer as sacrifices to God (“Gam ata titein be-yadeinu zevachim ve-olot” – 10:25).

          Rav Avraham Bentzion Borenstein, in Resisei Tal, suggests an insight into the symbolic significance of Moshe’s taking animals from Pharaoh offer as sacrifices to God.  Pharaoh, the king who enslaved Benei Yisrael and ordered the murder of their newborn infants, embodied evil and cruelty.  The notion of offering Pharaoh’s animals as sacrifices thus signifies the idea that even qualities that seem inherently negative can, and must, be utilized in the service of God.  No natural drive or human characteristic is entirely or inherently evil; if it is tempered and channeled properly, any character trait can be harnessed for good.  Lust is to be channeled toward a mutually fulfilling marital life.  Our anger instinct is to be directed, in moderate form, to disciplining children and students, and, when appropriate, criticizing wrongful behavior that must be corrected.  Cruelty is needed when waging a war against the forces of evil that threaten innocent lives.  Greed can be used as motivation to exert ourselves to work and earn an honest and respectable living.  Jealousy can sometimes serve as an important catalyst to change, as we draw inspiration from the success and achievements of others.

          Just as Moshe announced his preparedness to offer Pharaoh’s animals as sacrifices, so must we be prepared to utilize our full range of emotions, even our generally negative drives and tendencies, for the service of God, harnessing all our energies and feelings for the sake of personal growth and achievement.

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