By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey
As Chasidim we try following a very important and fundamental dictate of the Baal Sem Tov - that everything we observe, every person we encounter and in every situation we find ourselves in, there is a lesson to be learned and a purpose to be discovered in our service to G-d Al-Mighty.
Every moment contains a message, and to walk blindly through life untouched by one's experiences, would be to squander one's time; the equivalent of a lifetime spent turning over every page in the library without reading or understanding a single word.
We also believe that the Jewish people have a historical mission. For us, the purpose of existence, G-d's ambition and compulsion to create, is for us to reveal the concealed G-dliness implicit in creation and render the world a stage for Him to headline on.
From this, admittedly biased, Judeo-centric perspective, the shades of world events take on a distinctively Judaic-tinted hue. Every politician is judged by his attitude to Israel; every editorial is scanned for instances of latent or blatant anti-Semitism, and the vagaries of modern life are weighed on the scales of "is it good or bad for the Jews?"
In the Torah portion this week of Va’aira (Shmos [Exodus] 6:2- 9:35) we read this week of the plagues inflicted on the Egyptians in the effort to persuade them to "Let my people go” Fine, The "Shock and Awe" campaign (to use contemporary terminology) was certainly persuasive and absolutely guaranteed to impose the requisite knowledge and fear of G-d on all the Egyptians. This, however, was not the main purpose of the plagues. Rather, it was "So that you [the Jews] will tell your children … and you will know that I am G-d”
G-d went to the trouble of punishing the Egyptians so that the Jews would learn a lesson? Reminds me of the old joke about the suburban Jewish mother who, on first day of school, is explaining to the teacher how her pampered darling is never to be subjected to corporal punishment, as the trauma might inflict long term damage to his delicate psyche. "If my bubele is naughty, pick up the kid at the next desk and spank him, and I promise you, my son will get the message." G-d spanked the Egyptians so that those few Jews not yet persuaded would get the message!
If indeed we're so important; if the deeds and creeds of every single Jew make such a difference to G-d that He's prepared to cause such cataclysmic changes just to get our attention, imagine how every positive action we do has the capacity to affect the world !
If one has the ability to influence self or others to adopt a new observance or undertake a mitzvah--do it. It matters and will make a world of difference. And we’ve seen the amazing results that happen !
(Excerpts from Chabad.org - from Elisha Greenbaum)
May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!