Don’t Mind Your Own Business

January 5, 2018 at 3:28 AM , ,

“….And the king of Egypt said to them, “Why, Moshe and Aharon, do you disturb the people from their work? Go to your own labors.” – Shemot 5:4

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם לָמָּה משֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן תַּפְרִיעוּ אֶת הָעָם מִמַּעֲשָׂיו לְכוּ לְסִבְלֹתֵיכֶם  – שמות ה, ד

The commentaries note that Pharaoh instructed Moshe and Aharon to return to their own labors, indicating that their labor differed from that of the rest of the nation. The Ramban explains that Pharaoh recognized the need for a nation to have spiritual leaders and therefore exempted the tribe of Levi from slave labor, allowing them to be the scholars and teachers of B’nei Yisrael. He therefore told Moshe and Aharon to be glad that they were not subject to slavery themselves and were free to study and teach. Don’t overstep your boundaries, urged Pharaoh. Don’t meddle and interfere with the lives of the rest of the nation, who practically speaking and by Divine decree are unable to leave Egypt at this time.

Moshe and Aharon ignored Pharaoh’s warnings. They were not content with being free themselves or even being allowed to teach Bnei Yisrael. Instead, they campaigned for freedom for the rest of the nation, despite the odds against them, and saved Bnei Yisrael just in the nick of time. For as the Arizal taught, if the Jewish people had remained in Egypt for even one moment longer, they could never have been redeemed from the low spiritual level to which they would have sunk.

Building the Pyramids

From here we see that to concern yourself only with your own Torah study and observance is an attitude that stems from Pharaoh. We must trust that a Jew’s future is not bound by natural and logical probabilities. No matter how unlikely it may seem for us to successfully and meaningfully impact another person’s life, we must devotedly seek to free every one of our Jewish brothers and sisters from enslavement to the Pharaohs of our time. Even if your own spiritual state seems fine, you must make it your business to see that your fellow Jews too are drawn to serve G-d through the practical observance of the Torah. And when there are lives to be saved, it is never too soon.

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 16, pp. 29-31


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