Yismach Yisrael: Vaeira
The 29th of Tevet is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak of Alexander, the Yismach Yisrael (1853-1910). At an early age, his father, Rav Yechiel of Alexander, took him to Rav Menachem Mendel of Vorka, then Rav Beirush of Biala. After the latter’s passing, he became of a chasid of his father. After his father’s passing in 1894, he became the Alexander Rebbe.
“And they didn’t listen to Moshe because of shortness of spirit and hard work.” Why would the Torah write anything that could be taken critically of these poor people who were suffering so much? Did God truly expect them to be able to listen and attain the clarity of mind to accept Moshe’s words? Is it humanly possible for people under such duress to accept God as is demanded of us?
This is related to the idea of Rabbi Akiva telling his questioning students that he was suffering a horrible death to sanctify the Name of God BECAUSE he had always wanted an opportunity to sanctify God’s Name. This is what I want.
Had the Children of Israel accepted Moshe’s words at that point, there would have been no need for the Ten Plagues. They could have immediately left Egypt. And they did have the ability because they did believe Moshe when he first appeared to them.
However, they assumed that things became worse because they were undeserving. That sense is what limited their spirit so much that the hard work could prevent them from hearing Moshe and believing him.
There is nothing worse for a person than to feel that he cannot approach God because he is undeserving. Each of us has enough of the internal spark of faith to approach God and soar.