The magicians said to Pharoah: “It is the finger of Hashem.” (Shmos 8:15)
by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
Rav Nenedick zt”l was Rav Aharon Kotler’s Mashgiach in Kletzk.
In this Pasuk, after all of the dust of Mitzrayim turned to lice – affecting both man and beast, the magicians of Mitzrayim finally recognize that it is the finger of Hashem. They were unable to perform this themselves and they were terrified.
Now we too, do we not have times, when we are undergoing intense fear with our human heart of flesh – do we not also have times where we declare, “It is the Hand of Hashem?” The fear may eventually pass and we shrug off the thought. But do we remember the “hand of Hashem” afterward – even now? Are the impressions made upon our hearts then recognizable now today? Or is it that the passage of time has turned our hearts into stone like our hearts were originally?
Let us not engage in self-deception! Are there not times and moments that will open our hearts to see the truth? Why should these moments be no less than the makos opened the hearts of the Mitzrim and Pharoah when the words “Etzbah Elokim – it is the finger of Hashem” or “Hashem HaTzaddik – Hashem is right” were said?
Why do these moments not bring us to change our ways? These “moments of truth” and intelligent reflection, and the regret should impact upon us to make these changes. And yet, we must admit that the character traits of Pharoah have stuck to us. The signs, the wonderous acts only affect us at the moment of our intense fear. We do not hang onto them. We are influenced only at the moment of the difficult situation – we are no better than Pharoah and his servants – Hashem help us.
So how can we make the “moments of truth” last? The answer lies in some other questions. Why were these particular Makos chosen by Hashem? Were there not any more powerful signs that he could have chosen? Also, why were there ten Makos and not one very powerful one instead – that could accomplish the same thing?
The answer is that Hashem wants to give opportunity even for the Mitzrim to do Teshuvah. This can only happen, however, if there is true recognition of their Creator. And this can only happen with prolonged interaction with them. This is in matters that affect them, which is why these particular makkos were chosen. This is also why the makkos lasted for a prolonged period of time and that they were ten instead of one. Hashem also gave them the opportunity to doubt and to twist and turn – all for the opportunity to use reason and logic to come to a recognition of Hashem. This is the meaning of the word misolel – toying with them. If we reflect upon this idea, that Hashem wants us all to do Teshuvah and that the prolonged interaction is so that we will have a deeper recognition of Hashem – then the impact of the “moments of truth” will, in fact, last. In the future, Hashem will also do this “toying” with us – for the very same purpose, so that we will have a deeper recognition of the Creator. This is the meaning of Tehillim 2:1-5 – when it says Hashem will laugh.
Rav Yoseph Leib Nenedick HY”D was one of the top Yeshiva Mashgichim in all of Europe. He and Rav Yeruchem Levovitz zt”l started the Yeshiva Ketana in Kelm feeding into Rav Simcha Zisel Ziv Broidy’s Yeshiva. The Chofetz Chaim himself took him as a mashgiach for his Yeshiva in Radin. Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l chose him to replace Rav Chatzkel Levenstein zt”l as the Kletzk Yeshiva’s Mashgiach. He was Rav Shach’s Mashgiach at this time. Rav Nenedick zt”l, and his entire family were murdered by the Nazis in 1943. Rav Nenedick’s shmuessin were masterpieces of mussar.