The Upside-Down World

Shevat 19, 5783
February 10, 2023
Candlelighting Time 5:12 PM

Yisro became enamored with the Jewish people. He was informed about the splitting of the Sea, the Manna, the war against Amalek and the well of Miriam. Surely, even one of those miraculous events would be sufficient to persuade anyone to join our team and definitely all of them together! However, Yisro comments that now he realizes the Hashem is the greatest of all the powers of the universe. And Yisro was intimately familiar with all of the idol worship protocols of his day. What so impressed him that he upgraded Hashem as the most superior of all the dominions that exist? Because the Egyptians were punished in the same way that they had punished us. They threw our infants into the Nile and drowned them, so did they meet their end as the waters of the sea crashed down upon them and killed them. Rashi adds that the pot that they cooked us in actually was their downfall. Chasam Sofer questions what did Rashi’s analogy add to the understanding of the above explanation?

The people were crossing the sea which obviously had stopped flowing. How could anyone have witnessed such an incredible event and not stop to wonder how it was possible that this was occurring. Did it make sense for Pharaoh to pursue the nation into a death trap? Certainly, it was an act of absurdity in the extreme, yet he did it. What could have been going through his mind?

Pharaoh’s astronomers realized that the future savior of the Jewish people would be stricken with water. Therefore, he decreed that all children should be drowned in the Nile. However, it was apparent that they were unsuccessful in eliminating our future leader. Even though they were not wrong because Moshe and Ahron were eventually assailed by water by the incident when Moshe hit the rock and did not speak to it, however, the Egyptians didn’t realize which aquatic event would eventually harm them. Therefore, they thought that this splitting of the sea was indeed the upcoming demise of Moshe and they would survive to see the morrow. They reinforced their theme that how could water be the eventual salvation for Moshe and Ahron since they were going to experience their downfall due to water. Of course, they would drown and the Egyptian Imperial Army would rout the nation and destroy their enemies. However, we know that the outcome was just the opposite and the very notion that drove them to oblivion was indeed our deliverance to freedom. Hence Rashi’s comment that the very pot that they used cooked them instead!

This indeed provided Pharaoh was the supportive evidence that Hashem truly has dominance of the entire universe. The very contrivance that perhaps should have led to our destruction, his victory, was the answer to our problems and, on the contrary, to his termination. And the mastermind behind such a mind-numbing event was, of course, Hashem. The full harnessing of the energies of the world to accomplish such a overturning of the adversary and a beyond reality triumph could only have occurred through the overwhelming dominance of Hashem. This is what convinced Yisro that indeed this conquest for the nation demonstrated beyond a doubt who really controls the world events and decided upon their execution. The creation was at his disposal and it would be used solely for the sake of His nation. 


Our Sages refer to the receiving of the Torah as the ‘standing at Mt. Sinai.’ We achieved a position of perfection at that juncture and we reached the level of angels. Angels are referred to as those who stand because they cannot elevate themselves as we can through Torah and mitzvos. Therefore, we are considered as standing at the mount because we became actual angels.