Parashat Shemot

The slavery of the Jewish people in Egypt begins. According to some opinions, the same pharaoh who had chosen Yosef to bring Egypt out of misery, and who had said at the time: “Since God has made you know all this, there is no one as intelligent and wise as you”, He was the one who quickly forgot the great feat of Yosef, and his God, just as Pharaoh told the Egyptians: “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are greater and stronger than us, let’s be clever. . lest it multiply, and … fight against us. ” Although Yosef and all his generation had already died, it is worth asking, How is it possible that Pharaoh has denied the kindness that he received from Yosef? Apparently, the pharaoh took a new path denying ties and moral obligations towards Yosef and his people for opportunistic interests. But a midrash says that the Egyptians persuaded Pharaoh to unify with the Jewish people. Pharaoh, at first, refused the proposal saying: Don’t be fools! Until now it was thanks to Yosef and his people that we are alive, how are we going to mix with them? But the Egyptians dethroned the pharaoh for 3 months, until finally he gave in and said: I will do everything you ask! Was Pharaoh’s attitude correct, as he forgot all the kindness he received from the people of Israel and began to torture them, in exchange for regaining power? The Sages teach that the pursuit of Honor and recognition “casts the person out of the world.” The Ramjal explains the reason for this: “The desire for honor is even greater than the desire for wealth, as it is possible for a person to overcome his penchant for money and other pleasures, but still be trapped by the desire for honor, unable to tolerate seeing oneself less than others ”. Many were destroyed by the desire for honor. The Gemara says that Yeorabam ben Nabat refused to enter the world to come out of his desire for honor. God grabbed him by his clothes and said, “Repent, and you, I and [King David] will walk together in paradise.” Yeorabam asked: Who will enter first? God answered: David. Then Yeorabam said to God: “If so, I refuse” …

We often fool ourselves with various excuses to justify the pursuit of honor and recognition. However, pursuing honor is not only unhelpful, it hurts us. Of course I am not talking about lowering our self-esteem, or considering ourselves good for nothing, because to live a meaningful life it is essential to learn to value ourselves and be aware of our good qualities. What I’m talking about is the constant search for honor and flattery. Once, someone approached his rabbi and asked: If the sages say: “Everyone who flees from honor, honor pursues (and reaches for)”, why even though I always flee from honor, does this ever haunt me? The rabbi replied: “From your question I see that, although you flee from honor, from time to time you turn to see if it really pursues you, so honor thinks you are looking for it, and it quickly escapes” …

Avoiding honor is a very difficult task to accomplish, because most of the things we do in life are connected to some kind of personal aggrandizement. However, if we reflect that everything we have in life is a Divine gift, that our passage through this world is ephemeral, and that there were rich, powerful people, and many others like Pharaoh who passed into oblivion, this will help us. to focus on our true purpose to do good and follow God’s ways.

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