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    The parsha begins with
    G-d telling Moshe
    Rabbeinu [our teacher], “I
    am Hashem. I appeared to
    the patriarchs with the
    name Kel Shakai.
    However the name
    Hashem I did not make known to them” [Shemos
    6:3]. The Medrash makes an interesting
    comment: G-d bemoaned the loss of the
    irreplaceable patriarchs. “Many times I revealed
    myself to the patriarchs with these other — less
    intimate — forms of my Name, but they never
    questioned Me”.
    “I promised Avraham the entire land of Israel,
    yet when he could not find a place to bury his
    wife Sarah until he paid a high price for a burial
    cave, he never complained or questioned me.”
    “I told Yitzchak to live in this land — for I
    would give it to him and his descendants.
    Yitzchak could not find the basic necessity of
    water to drink with out hassling over wells with
    the shepherds of Gerar. Yet he never complained
    or questioned me.”
    “I promised Yaakov the entire land. Yaakov was
    unable to find a place to pitch his tent until he
    bought a place from Chamor ben Shechem for
    100 Kiseta. Yet Yaakov never questioned me.”

    “But you have complaints. The situation
    deteriorated after I sent you to Pharaoh, and you
    are protesting and questioning if I know what I
    am doing.”
    We can argue, in Moshe’s defense, that there is
    a simple difference. Moshe Rabbeinu, Heaven
    Forbid, was not a malcontent. He was not a
    complainer — he was a leader.
    The patriarchs suffered personal setbacks and
    disappointments. In such situations, a person is
    not allowed to complain. A person must accept
    the Judgment of G-d. Moshe, on the other hand,
    was not saying, “It is tough for _me_”. Moshe is
    the leader par excellence, the faithful shepherd.
    Moshe’s complaint and argument is on behalf of
    the _people_. Such a complaint is legitimate.
    That is Moshe’s job. He is supposed to be the
    advocate of the Jewish People.
    What, then, is the nature of G-d’s objection
    regarding Moshe’s behavior? After all, when
    Moshe — following the sin of the Golden Calf
    — said “erase me from your book”, G-d did not
    object. When Moshe stood up for the nation
    during the entire period of the wilderness, G-d
    did not object. That was Moshe’s job. Here
    however, according to the Medrash, G-d
    objected. Why?
    The answer is that Moshe Rabbeinu used a

    poor choice of words here — “Why have
    You done evil (haREOSA) to this
    people… From the time I came to
    Pharaoh … he (Pharaoh) worsened the
    situation (heiRA) for this nation”
    [Shemos 5:22-23]. Saying or implying
    that G-d has been ‘Bad’ (RA) to the
    people is inappropriate. That was G-d’s
    G-d is telling Moshe that whatever G-d
    does is for good. Whether we understand
    it or not, ultimately, ALL that G-d does, He does
    for the good that will come from it.
    There are situations in life where trying to
    understand how they can possibly be good is
    extremely difficult — if not nearly impossible.
    But that is a Jew’s responsibility. This is what
    G-d is saying to Moshe. The patriarchs never
    uttered the word ‘Bad’ (RA). It may have been
    difficult. It may have been trying. There are
    many adjectives that can be used regarding
    situations brought about by Divine Providence,
    but not ‘Bad’.
    When the Patriarch Yaakov came to Pharaoh
    and Pharaoh asked Yaakov’s age, Yaakov
    responded “The days of my life have been …
    few and bad were the years of my life…”
    [Bereishis 47:9].
    The Medrash says that at the moment
    Yaakov uttered those words, G-d said to
    him, “I saved you from Eisav and Lavan
    and I returned to you Dena and Yosef —
    and now you are complaining that your
    years are few and bad? Your life will be
    shortened by the number of words in
    your statement.”
    But the question must be asked —
    wasn’t Yaakov right? True he was saved
    and he had children returned to him. But
    if not for the tzaros of Eisav there would
    have been any need to be saved. True, he
    was saved from Lavan — but who
    needed twenty years of aggravation?
    The answer is, again, that Yaakov’s life
    may have been bitter — but it was not
    bad. For each occurrence, there was
    something positive that emerged. The
    fight with Eisav developed the Jewish
    People’s ability to deal with Eisav’s
    descendants in future generations.
    Yosef’s going down to Egypt eventually
    paved the way for the salvation of the
    nation. These were difficult, trying, and
    even incomprehensible events — but
    they were not _Bad_. _Bad_ was an
    inappropriate word.
    The Chofetz Chaim once gave a
    parable. Sometimes we take a medicine
    and it is terribly bitter. The medicine
    cures the disease. What word do we use
    to describe the medicine? Bitter — yes;
    bad — no! There are instances in life
    when our natural human reaction is to
    say that an event is bad, is terrible. But a
    Jew has the obligation to believe that
    everything that G-d creates is ultimately

    for the best. In the final analysis, it will work out
    for the best.
    And G-d (Elokim — the Attribute of Justice)
    said to Moshe: “I am Hashem” (the Attribute of
    Mercy) [Shemos 6:2]. Ultimately, we have to
    believe that any troubles which, through our
    limited perspective we have no way of
    explaining, ultimately, somehow, do make
    The paradigm of this concept is the Jewish
    experience in Egypt. Our Rabbis tell us that
    Moshe Rabbeinu wrote Megillos for the Jewish
    People, which they used to read on the Shabbos.
    Pharaoh tried to stop the Jews from reading
    those Megillos [scrolls] on Shabbos [Shemos
    What were those Megillos? What was in
    Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky suggests the
    following. The Talmud [Babba Basra 14b] says
    that Moshe Rabbeinu authored some of the
    chapters of Tehillim [Psalms]. Those were the
    scrolls that the Jews read in Egypt. One of the
    chapters was “A Psalm to the Day of Shabbos”
    [Tehillim Chapter 92]. However, if you examine
    that chapter, you will find that Shabbos is not
    mentioned at all. What is its connection to
    Shabbos? Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky suggests
    that the connection is that the Jewish people
    read that chapter on Shabbos when they were in
    Why did the Jewish people read that chapter
    on Shabbos? Tehillim 92 contains the words
    “when the wicked flourish like the grass, and all
    the doers of iniquity blossom forth…” Those
    words introduce the concept that “Bad things
    happen to the Tzaddik (righteous); Good things
    happen to the Rasha (wicked)”. This issue
    understandably weighed heavily on the minds
    of the Jews in Egypt. “What is happening? We
    are righteous. The Egyptians are wicked. Why
    are we the slaves? We don’t deserve this.”
    Moshe Rabbeinu provided this Psalm, which
    acknowledges the principle of the wicked
    flourishing. Years later, it might have been
    possible to begin to appreciate that the
    experience of Egypt molded us into a special
    nation. However, while in slavery, without the
    benefit of time and hindsight, there was no way
    for them to understand any rationale or
    redeeming feature of the slavery experience.
    Such experiences often must remain simply a
    matter of faith. We need to maintain that faith,
    and remember that ultimately we will
    understand the good in everything.