motzei Shabbos: parasha Va’eira 5783
“And Moshe spoke so unto the Bnei Yisroel; but they did not listen unto Moshe because of their kotzer ruach (shortness of spirit, broken spirit), and for avodah kesheh (cruel bondage).” – Exodus 6:9
Moshe and Aaron approached Pharaoh, concerning the people’s welfare; however, Pharaoh only increased their workload. When Moshe appealed to H’Shem, saying, “why is it that Thou hast sent me?” (Exodus 5:22, JPS), he was disillusioned, because the Chlldren of Israel were now suffering even more, and the redemption seemed further away. Yet, H’Shem responded that Moshe would see the redemption, which would be “with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments” (Exodus 6:6, JPS). Yet, when he took this message back to the people, they were not able to hear the impending redemption as a reality, because they were despondent.
Literally, the Torah records that the people’s spirit was broken, as if they were without hope. This is exactly when H’Shem chose to act on their behalf, for the sake of their freedom; and, He commanded Moshe to return to Pharaoah, “that he let the children of Israel go out of his land” (Exodus 6:11, JPS). So, even though the people seemed to not be on board with this divine program that was about to be enacted on their behalf, thus began the intervention of G-d, on behalf of His people, to bring them out of bondage, in order to serve Him, according to His commandments that were given at Sinai.
This clearly shows the need for redemption from an external source, as opposed to anything that mankind can achieve for himself. We can only do so much to make an attempt to improve ourselves; once we have made an effort, we need G-d to meet us halfway. The Children of Israel had sunk to the 49th level impurity; upon realizing the depth of their descent, their hearts were made contrite by this realization; so, once they acknowledged their lowly condition, G-d acted on their behalf to redeem them.
“The L-RD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as are of a contrite spirit.”
– Psalm 34:19, JPS 1917 Tanach