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Amid Israel’s war in Gaza, there is talk of drafting yeshivah students into the army to bolster its ranks. On Shavuot, we celebrate the anniversary of receiving the Torah, so I want to write about the role of Torah in war. The Torah is not just a dusty old book …

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Home » Passover, Vaeirah

Vaeirah: Hiding Behind Destiny

Submitted by on January 16, 2006 – 1:46 amNo Comment | 2,724 views

Was it their fault?

In this week’s Parsha we are given a demonstration of G-d’s power as he smites the mighty conquerors and frees the slaves.

The story begs the question, why were the Egyptians so cruelly punished? Isn’t it true that G-d promised Avraham many years earlier that Jews would be subjected to Egyptian rule? Wasn’t the Jewish Diaspora in Egypt predetermined by the Cosmos even before the creation of Egypt itself? Why did G-d chart the destiny for Egypt and then proceed to punish them for it?

During the course of the Nuremberg trials there were many Nazis who defended their crimes, saying that they were simply following orders. However, when asked if they regretted their actions or if they felt even a little remorse the answer almost invariably came back in the negative.

Choosing Cruelty

It is the second of these two questions that implicated the Nazis and it is the very same that damned the Egyptians. Sure G-d ordained that they play host to the Jewish people and that we would suffer in their land. But were they compelled to murder Jewish children? Were they obligated to order Jewish men into slave labor? Were they forced to rape Jewish women?

The pleasure with which they carried out their task, the expedience with which they fulfilled their mandate, and the cruelty that they displayed to our people is what justified the Ten Plagues.

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