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Parshat Shemot: Arguments Lead to Exile

by Chaya Rivka Zwolinski

In Parsha Shemot, the Torah tells us that Moshe witnessed an Egyptian viciously beating a defenseless Jewish slave. Moshe invoked the name of Hashem. The Egyptian collapsed. The slave’s life was saved.

The next day Moshe went out and about. He saw two Jews, Datan and Aviram, arguing. He felt that the argument was beginning to escalate so he stepped in to calm them down. One of the men turned to Moshe and asked, “Who made you a man, a prince, and a judge over us? Do you plan to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Moshe became very frightened. “Surely, the reason known,” he said. Moshe realized that now the word was out. Everyone knew he had killed the Egyptian. It was punishable by death to kill an Egyptian.

Reb Noson tells us that arguments and conflict and controversy bring about galut, exile. When Moshe saw Dathan and Aviram arguing, he got it right away. “Surely the reason is known,” he said. These conflicts and arguments are why we are suffering in exile.

This kind of arguing points to a distorted sense of justice. It’s a “blame the hero” kind of justice. A person was being viciously attacked and beaten for no reason. The man that saves the innocent person is now being held to account. This is distorted justice and this type of distorted justice and the arguments that ensue cause exile. Reb Noson teaches that true justice leads to peace. Rashi explains that no peace every came about from an argument.

Reb Noson further tells us that any argument, also represents a blemish in emunah. When people argue, it’s because they lack the emunah to resolve things peacefully. Each side thinks that it is up to them to determine what is right for the world. Why are we in exile because of arguments? How is this fair to those who don’t want to argue?

In truth, the whole world is involved in conflict. The whole world is involved in political, ideological, and territorial battles. The whole world is involved in power struggles. The whole world is involved with people cheating each other and trying to one-up each other, to come out on top.

Why do conflicts between Jews hurt so much? Why do we suffer so much from them? Reb Noson tells us that we have been chosen to reveal Hashem’s Glory and Honor in this world. Therefore, we must act even more honorably and respectably towards one another and the world at large. When we argue we take away from Hashem’s Glory.  Other people (Jewish and not) see that we really don’t have emunah.

We think that we’re going to determine outcomes by our arguments. This isn’t the case at all. It only results in exile. Let’s not exile ourselves anymore. Let’s put our conflicts to rest.

May you have a day where you remember that suffering will end and redemption will come.

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