Parshas Vaera

The Race Car Driver 

race car.jpgThe race car driver was practically jumping in the air; he was pumped and excited beyond anything I had seen. He had just won the race of his life.

The people around him were ecstatic. His wife was looking on admiringly; the fans were jumping up and down.

And then the T.V. presenter came over to interview him, and hollered you must be very proud. You won the race!
And the driver responded, yes, but it wasn't me who gets the credit. 
I drove a car that someone else worked hard to make, designed by an engineer who put great effort into it, on a track that yet a third person labored intensely to build.
Yes, I drove the car the fastest, but the credit goes to many other people as well.

You know that this story is made up because the driver wouldn't say anything of the sort. He would continue to thump his chest, with a great smile on his lips that cries I DID IT! - Who wants to think about all that other stuff, when you’re on top of the world?

But what if he would say that? What if he would realize that his achievements are dependent on others?

One thing is for certain. That such humility would ensure that he wouldn't abuse others. And if he would think like that he would have learned one of the lessons that God was trying to teach Pharaoh.

In this week's portion of VAERA, we read of how Hashem tells Moshe over and over again that he should confront Pharaoh and tell him to let the Jewish people go free from being enslaved in the land.

If not, plagues are coming his way. And this is so that pharaoh should know that I am G‑d.

When Pharaoh heard this, his response is predictable. Who is this G‑d who you are talking about? I don't know of such a thing. We have a system in our country and I am at the head. We don't need to ask the question where did all this come from?

I am very happy to enjoy my position of leader of this country and all the benefits that come with it. Life is going really good for Pharaoh at this time. The river Nile was being used for an elaborate irrigation system, the economy is booming, new cities are being built, he has slaves to do his every bidding. They had even come up with a recession proof solution to deal with the inevitable economic booms and busts that happen every few years (with Yosef’s help).

Why mess it up? Why think about anyone else or anything else? Let's just celebrate our success. And if there happens to be people living among us who are suffering in slavery, so be it.

And God's message is ‘where do you think you got all this from’? Do you really think that you achieved this on your own? ‘So that they should know that I am G‑d’.

Where is your humility? Do you realize that all that you have achieved is only because I gave you the raw materials? You didn't do this on your own. And if you didn't, you are no more special than anyone else. So why are you treating them any different than you?

It's no accident that it was Moshe who was sent to teach pharaoh this lesson. He didn't think he was worthy for the position. When Hashem appointed him to be the leader to save the Jewish people, he said send someone else who is more worthy. The Torah itself testifies that Moshe was the most humble person that ever lived.

When we are at the top of our game, it is too easy to forget how we got there. It can all seem so natural, that we expect it. We develop a sense of entitlement. We worked hard, we deserve it. and everyone else can accept the reality of me being the ‘new sheriff in town’.

And then our conscience (should) whispers into our ear: ‘There is a G‑d that made this happen.’ Make sure that the people around you are not treated like ‘slaves’.

Shabbat shalom