Behold B’nei Yisroel didn’t listen to me, so why will Paroah listen to me, and I have blocked lips. (Shemos 6/12)
Rashi explains that this is one of 10 kal v’chomers that are mentioned in the Torah. Meaning, Moshe tried to convince Hashem that there was no purpose for him tell Paroah to free the Jewish nation because if B’nei Yisroel who were suffering, and would gain by being redeemed, didn’t believe Moshe likes it says, “and Bnei Yisroel didn’t listen to Moshe (because) of their short breath and difficult labor” (Shemos 6/9) , then surely Paroah, who will lose by B’nei Yisroel being redeemed, won’t believe him.
Zera Shimshon asks a few questions on this Rashi.
Firstly, the kal v’chomer seems to be faulty. The reason that B’nei Yisroel didn’t listen to Moshe was because of “shortness of breath and difficult labor”. Paroah, on the other hand, didn’t work hard at all. Why, then, should he not believe Moshe?
Secondly, why did Moshe add that his “lips were blocked”. Why wasn’t the kal v’chomer a strong enough reason to convey to Hashem that Paroah wouldn’t listen to him.
To answer these questions Zera Shimshon points out something very interesting; whenever the Torah mentions that Hashem will redeem us, the difficulty and pain of the enslavement is also mentioned. Why does the Torah do this? At the Bris Bein HaBesarim Hashem decreed that we would be slaves for 400 years. Therefore, if we were already slaves for 400 years then regardless of the fact that we suffered we are entitled to be saved? And if we weren’t yet slaves for 400 years, why will the fact the servitude was so hard help to shorten the decree?
Zera Shimshon answers, that although according to the literal wording of the decree B’nei Yisroel should suffer enslavement for four hundred years, Hashem doesn’t only run the world according to pure justice. If H. would the world would not survive. Rather Hashem also manages the world with the Attribute of Mercy. The Attribute of Mercy contends that the severity of the bondage should be taken into account and be used to reduce the four hundred year decree. The severity of the bondage is mentioned in connection with the redemption, because the tremendous suffering is what enabled to be redeemed and leave Mitzrayim after two hundred and ten years of bondage- 190 years early!
You shouldn’t make a mistake, though, and think that Hashem rules the world ONLY with the Attribute of Mercy. Hashem ALSO rules the world with the Attribute of Jutstice. Only Hashem really knows when and how to use both of these contridictory Attributes, but both are constantly being used.
With this idea in mind, Zera Shimshon returns to explain the kal v’chomer.
Hashem’s Attribute of Mercy argues that the difficulty of the enslavement can complete the decree of four hundred years of enslavement even though in reality we were slaves only for 210 years.
On the other hand, Hashem’s Attribute of Justice claims that according to the strict letter of the promise we have to be slaves for 400 years- 365 days times 400.
B’nei Yisroel didn’t know which of these two attributes Hashem will chose to redeem them. Therefore, Moshe Rabeinu claimed that B’nei Yisroel didn’t listen to him because they felt that Hashem was judging them only with the Attribute of Justice and that they would have to wait out the whole four hundred years.
This, then, is the meaning of the posuk “and Bnei Yisroel didn’t listen to Moshe (because) of their short breath and hard work”. It doesn’t mean, like we orginally thought, that they didn’t listen to Moshe because of difficult emotional state caused by “shortness of breath and hard work”. If this is what the posuk means then there is no kal v’chomer.
Rather Moshe argued that they didn’t beleive that they would be redeemed early BECAUSE of the pain and torture of “shortness of breath and hard labor” but would have to wait until all four hundred years of slaverly finsih.
We can now understand the kal v’chomer; if B’nei Yisroel who would benefit from the redemption felt that Hashem was judging them with Attribute of Justice, Paroah would cerntainly feel that Hashem will judge them with H.s Attribute of Justice. It has nothing to do with their emotional state!
This is also why Moshe mentioned that he had closed lips. He argued that his lips are closed are a sign that the redemption has not yet arrived and that Hashem is judging them with the Attribute of Justice. If the time of redemption did arrive then he would be healed, which is what really happened at Matan Torah.
In short, Hashem runs the world with two contracidatly attributes; the Attribute of Mercy and the Attribute of Justice. Moshe told Bnei Yisroel that they are going to be redeemed early because Hashem’s Attribute of Mercy took all of their sufering into account. But they didn’t believe Moshe and they felt that they were being judged with Pure Justice. Therefore Moshe told Hashem that if they think like that, certainly Paroah will think like that and there is no reason for him to go to Paroah and try to convince him to liberate B’nei Yisroel.
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