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    In Tehillim, Dovid HaMelech declares, “Mi chocham v’yishmar aleh v’yisboninu chasdei Hashem – Who is wise and observes these things and meditates on the kindness of Hashem?” The Hebrew letters of the two words mi chocham, a mem, a yud, a ches, a chaf and another mem, make up an abbreviation for Yisro Kohein Midyan Chosein Moshe. As we mentioned last week it was Yisro who observed, “Atah yadati ki gadol Hashem mikol elohim ki badavar asher zadu aleihem – Now I know that Hashem is greater than all powers for that which the Egyptians plotted befell them.

    Many years before the exodus Yisro was one of the members present when Pharaoh had a meeting to decide the fate of the Jews. At that meeting Pharaoh determined that G-d’s way of retributions was always midah k’neged midah, measure for measure. He therefore decided to drown the Jewish babies since G-d promised that he wouldn’t bring anymore a flood upon the world. Now at the time of the drowning of the Egyptians at the Red Sea, Yisro marveled at how Hashem kept His promise and yet punished the Egyptians measure for measure by bringing them to the water instead of bringing the water to them.

    He also observed that it was part of Paroh’s diabolical plot to kill the Jews and not sully his own hands. Rather he conspired to have Jew kill Jew, first by asking the Jewish midwives to kill the babies and then by demanding that the Jewish parents drown their own children. Therefore, measure for measure the Jews did not lift a finger against the nine million Egyptians that pursued them to the sea. Instead, the Egyptians drowned themselves by walking into the watery abyss of the Red Sea. But Yisro’s observation went further.

    When Yisro states that Hashem is greater than all elohim, he is referring to the fact that now he sees that G-d is greater even than the celestial angels. We are taught that even angels do not know what is going on in a person’s mind. They are not mind readers, but it is Hashem who is bochein kluyos balev, He knows innermost thoughts of a person, and was able to interpret the real meaning behind Pharaoh’s actions. As the commentators teach us, Paroh actually wanted to claim reward for his treatment of the Jews. He declared to G-d, “You told Avraham that his children would be strangers in a land not theirs and they would be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years.” Well Paroh exclaimed, “Didn’t I fulfill the Divine Will correctly? Don’t I deserve to be rewarded?” But as the Ramban explains, Paroh didn’t do it for that reason. Rather, as Yisro states, Ki badavar asher zadu, that which he did with willful intent, aleihem, they were punished.

    So we see that Yisro was a great student of that which transpired around him. Dovid HaMelech refers to such perception as chochmah for as Ben Zoma teaches us in Pirkei Avos: Aizehu chocham? Halomeid mikol adam – Who is wise? He who learns from every person.” This speaks of the ability to observe and draw lessons from every situation.

    Rav Miller, Zt”l, Zy”a, used to walk around with seeds in his pocket. From a seed he was able to see and meditate upon the chasdei Hashem, the kindness of the Creator. He would say in the name of his father in-law, Rav Levin, that the peach pit is so hard that you cannot break it open even with a saw. If you put it in the ground, the chemicals of the soil dissolve the glue between the two halves and the case opens up smoothly and releases the seed inside. It’s a marvel of the plan and purpose of the Creator. Take a watermelon pit which is slimy to the touch. It’s not the juice of the watermelon that makes it slippery; rather it has its own slickness which ensures that it will evade the eater and live to plant another watermelon bush. So too in the core of the apple, the seeds are protected so they shouldn’t be disturbed and live to promote other apple trees.

    The seed is a remarkable coupon found in our fruit that proclaims, “Buy An Apple – Get Trees For Free!” The seed contains in it a mini-computer which ensures that no matter which direction we put the seed in the ground, the roots go down and the tree grows up. It’s not like the battery of a flashlight that if you put it in the wrong way the flashlight won’t work. Just the marvel of the fact that one seed in the ground generates a tree which has fruit with thousands of seeds for the next fifty years is an incredible observation. Once again the wise man who watches these things has a whole world of observations to meditate on the kindness of Hashem.

    May it be the will of Hashem that we achieve this wisdom and in that merit may we be blessed with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.