At Midnight
 
Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 15 Tammuz 5779
 
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At Midnight
The smiting of the firstborn, described in this week’s Torah portion, was the final and most severe of the ten plagues brought upon the Egyptians. The tenth plague was unusual in a number of aspects:

1) When Moses approached Pharaoh to warn him about the previous plagues, he did not specify a time when the plague would hit. In his warning before the plague of the firstborn, however, he mentioned that the plague would begin at midnight.

2) During other plagues, the Jewish areas of Egypt were protected and were not affected by the plague. The Jews did not need to make any special preparation or symbol in order to receive this protection. By the final plague, the Jews were commanded to paint on their doorways the blood of the Pascal offering and the blood of circumcision as a sign. Also, they were warned to stay in their homes, for their protection could not be guaranteed if they ventured outside.

The fundamental difference between the plague of the firstborn and the previous plagues was that all the others were limited in the extent of their harmfulness. The primary purpose of the first nine plagues was not to kill the Egyptians, but only to cause damage and suffering. The plague of the firstborn, however, was a generalized annihilation. Since G-d unleashed an unrestrained power of destruction, there was a need for special safeguards to ensure the protection of the Jews.

This is why Moses told Pharaoh that the plague would begin at midnight. Midnight is the midpoint between two halves of night. During the first half, the night grows progressively darker, and G-d’s attribute of severity reigns supreme. During the second half of night, the attribute of kindness dominates, as the darkness fades out as more and more light appears. Midnight is when these two extremes – kindness and severity, darkness and light – merge with one another. Only a force that is above both can possibly unite two such opposite forces. This force was in effect by the plague of the firstborn. G-d spared the Jewish people out of a deep, essential love that transcended all boundaries.

Nevertheless, G-d required the Jews to place a sign on their doorposts. G-d could have spared the Jews out of His essential love even without a sign, but He wanted the Jews to play a role in drawing down these G-dly revelations. Just as G-d called upon His innermost powers to spare the Jews, the Jews also expressed their innermost powers to connect with G-d above all logic and reasoning.

It is written that “just as in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.” The future redemption will be a replica of the exodus from Egypt. Just as the Jewish people then needed to draw upon their inner reserves of faith to be redeemed, we must also arouse our innermost faith in G-d’s redemption, despite the darkness that surrounds us. Our strong faith in the coming of Moshiach must reveal itself in every facet of our being and thus we will merit Redemption.

The smiting of the firstborn, described in this week’s Torah portion, was the final and most severe of the ten plagues brought upon the Egyptians. The tenth plague was unusual in a number of aspects:

1) When Moses approached Pharaoh to warn him about the previous plagues, he did not specify a time when the plague would hit. In his warning before the plague of the firstborn, however, he mentioned that the plague would begin at midnight.

2) During other plagues, the Jewish areas of Egypt were protected and were not affected by the plague. The Jews did not need to make any special preparation or symbol in order to receive this protection. By the final plague, the Jews were commanded to paint on their doorways the blood of the Pascal offering and the blood of circumcision as a sign. Also, they were warned to stay in their homes, for their protection could not be guaranteed if they ventured outside.

The fundamental difference between the plague of the firstborn and the previous plagues was that all the others were limited in the extent of their harmfulness. The primary purpose of the first nine plagues was not to kill the Egyptians, but only to cause damage and suffering. The plague of the firstborn, however, was a generalized annihilation. Since G-d unleashed an unrestrained power of destruction, there was a need for special safeguards to ensure the protection of the Jews.

This is why Moses told Pharaoh that the plague would begin at midnight. Midnight is the midpoint between two halves of night. During the first half, the night grows progressively darker, and G-d’s attribute of severity reigns supreme. During the second half of night, the attribute of kindness dominates, as the darkness fades out as more and more light appears. Midnight is when these two extremes – kindness and severity, darkness and light – merge with one another. Only a force that is above both can possibly unite two such opposite forces. This force was in effect by the plague of the firstborn. G-d spared the Jewish people out of a deep, essential love that transcended all boundaries.

Nevertheless, G-d required the Jews to place a sign on their doorposts. G-d could have spared the Jews out of His essential love even without a sign, but He wanted the Jews to play a role in drawing down these G-dly revelations. Just as G-d called upon His innermost powers to spare the Jews, the Jews also expressed their innermost powers to connect with G-d above all logic and reasoning.

It is written that “just as in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.” The future redemption will be a replica of the exodus from Egypt. Just as the Jewish people then needed to draw upon their inner reserves of faith to be redeemed, we must also arouse our innermost faith in G-d’s redemption, despite the darkness that surrounds us. Our strong faith in the coming of Moshiach must reveal itself in every facet of our being and thus we will merit Redemption.
 

 


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