He Who Puts You To It Will Pull You Through It
As children, we can recall a time we once fell during play and took a scrape to the knee. In tears we ran to our parents pointing to the site of affliction, hopeful of a cure to ease the pain, only to discover that the liquid in the brown bottle they said would make the pain go away actually burns more than the cut itself! Tears now amplified, we shriek ‘Get it off, get it off!!! I thought you wanted to help me! WHY would you make it worse??’, but a week later, knee is good as new.
And thus, for the first time, we learn the lesson that sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better.
In Parashat Shemot, Moshe Rabbenu and Aharon HaKohen approach Pharaoh informing him that HaKadosh Barukh Hu instructs him to ‘let my people go’. Pharaoh refuses, saying, ‘Who is G-d, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I know not G-d, nor will I let Israel go.’ Not only does Pharaoh refuse their demand, he increases the burden of labor on Benei Yisrael. When officers of Benei Yisrael complain to Moshe Rabbenu that his visit to Pharaoh has only made things worse, he can bear it no longer. Just like with the hydrogen peroxide in the brown bottle, things were only getting worse, not better.
Observing this, Moshe Rabbenu asks Ribono Shel Olam ‘Why have You done evil to this nation? Why have You sent me?! Since I came to speak to Pharaoh in your name, he has done worse to this nation; and You have not saved Your people!’
HaKadosh Barukh Hu responds straight to Moshe Rabbenu, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.’
For things to move upwards, they have to start at a low point first; things get worse before they get better.
This is why the Pasuk states ‘The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew’ (1:12). Hidushei HaRim explains that Benei Yisrael felt most suffering and affliction when salvation began to draw near. The lower Benei Yisrael were driven, the higher levels they were able to reach. The more they suffered, the more momentum they gained towards attaining greatness. It was because of the hardships that they endured which offered them the resistance to keep having children, six at a time.
The key to moments like these, when not only is hope lost, but things seem to even get worse is PERSEVERENCE. Right that moment where you feel you are about to break, that is when salvation is near; you just need to push that little extra bit, that extra bit that differentiates you from others, that bit that deems you deserving of salvation, that last bit that declares and strengthens your Emunah in HaKadosh Barukh Hu. DON’T GIVE UP.
When HaKadosh Barukh Hu reveals to Moshe Rabbenu of his task of speaking to Pharaoh to free Benei Yisrael, Moshe Rabbenu brings up his speech impediment as a reason why he is not capable of this role. He begs and begs HaShem to give the job to somebody else, like his brother, who did not have a stutter and who was more fond of public speaking.
HaShem says ‘Who gave man a mouth, or who makes [one] dumb or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, HaShem? So now, go! I will be with your mouth, and I will instruct you what you shall speak. ’
He Who puts you to it will surely pull you through it. Just like Moshe Rabbenu was put to the test of speaking to the most important figure in all the land despite his speech impediment, and HaShem pulled him through (it was indeed Moshe Rabbenu that led Benei Yisrael out of Misrayim), HaShem also guides us through the tests he puts us up to. If HaShem puts you through a situation, He believes you can handle it…..and not only that, He believes you can grow from it. And if He puts you through a test, he gives you all the means of conquering it; the world is His. Whoever made the lock also made the key. HaShem knows and controls all systems in this world. He just wants you to grow. Proof?
In the virtual world of Mario, the player must complete a certain level in order to advance to the next one. Before passing to the next level, at the very end of the current level, the player must prepare himself to defeat the largest challenge throughout the level. This challenge is known as Bowser and he is nearly impossible to beat. But still possible….
The whole point of the Mario game is to advance from one level to the next. The makers of the game don’t want you to be stuck on level one the entire time; they want you to keep moving up. As difficult as it is to defeat this huge monster, the makers of therefore had to design Bowser to be capable of being destroyed. You are able to destroy Bowser once you’ve been through the entire level over and over again to acquire the various hidden tools embedded in bricks- something that comes only with experience. Once you were able to destroy Bowser at the end of the level, you were able to advance to the next one. The hardest part of the level is at the very end, just as you are about to advance forward to a more desirable level, reaching success.
Life is the same. It is designed for us to pass. We are given the tools to pass. The tools are acquired only through experience. Our biggest and most difficult challenge appears right before success. Although the challenge seems impossible, if you beat it, you gain the rights to move on. If not, you continue to stay on the same level.
Believe me, HaShem knows our pain. He does not want to hurt us. HaShem Himself says in this Parasha ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cries at the hand of their oppressors, I know their pain...’ Imagine how painful it is for a parent to apply hydrogen peroxide to their child’s cut knowing it will cause them unease. But it must be done. This small amount of pain that has to be felt yields desirable and auspicious results. If it does not kill you, it is making you stronger.
This is the lesson we learn from the burning bush….the bush standing before Moshe Rabbenu was burning, but it would not be consumed. In life, things may hurt so bad and burn deep inside us, but they should not and will not ever consume us. The understanding that HaKadosh Barukh Hu is our Parent that knows exactly what we need to move forward, and precisely how much we can endure should lend us much comfort and strength as we face our struggles.
Be’ezrat HaShem, may we all use the embers that burn within us not to destroy and consume worlds around us, but as a source of warmth and energy to keep moving forward. May we realize that any experience that feels like suffering is only the liquid in the brown bottle that will heal our wounds faster. In this zekhut, may we pass all our tests with flying colors and only grow from each and every one of them!
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!