Thursday, January 12, 2012

Parshas Sh'mos

We live in a crazy world, with up-side-down priorities and non existent values. Not that you need proof or anything, but take a look at the Sports and Entertainment section in your local newspaper.
The Golf Superstar is... a black guy.
The Basketball champion is... Chinese.
The #1 rapper is... a white-man.
A bit backward you think?
Don't worry- when the insanity of life hits you, just hang in there and think of Parshas Sh'mos, and remember that Moshe was also a basket-case.
But our messed up galaxy isnt such a chiddush, (novelty). The fact that it was messed up 3,300 years ago is what's amazing. Lets take a peak into the corruption and try to understand the motive, reason, and solution.
If you pay close attention to the psukim, and if you're not yet immune to strange events, you'll appreciate an interesting discussion between Paraoh and the miyaldot, midwives.
Here are the points that bother me within those verses:
1. Instead of Paraoh sending out his army to kill all the new baby boys- as he would normally do, he goes, all by his royal self, to Yocheved and Miriam (the midwives) to have them commit his inhumane crimes.
2. Paraoh wastes all his bad breath by giving over special signs to the midwives, explaining in detail how to differentiate between the boys and the girls. Rashi spells out for us what those simanim were: If the baby's head is facing downward, it's a boy, and face up means a girl.
 Now, anyone with an IQ of 70 and above would be deemed capable of distinguishing between the genders, without the helpful tips of His Royal Harness. I think.
3. Yocheved and Miriam's response is a bit weird. They claimed that the situation is out of their control, since the Jewish women are giving birth alone, without their assistance, and therefore, by the time they arrive on the scene, the babies are out.  So what? As soon as it's out, if it's a boy, kill the kid.
4. Throughout the whole dialog, the main character is sometimes called Paraoh, and sometimes melech Mitzraim, the king of Egypt. Is that something significant, or at some point they just forgot his name?
 So, the Torah refers to the king as melech Mitzraim in the beginning of the story. That's because he was trying to act in the manner of a king. He had to be fair and just and honest. If he would give the impression that he was making a law that was cruel or unfair, perhaps the people would revolt. So by approaching the miyaldot personally, as opposed to having his army kill the boys, he was trying to give over some semblance of law. He's covering up his evil scheme in a mantel of justice. 
"There are too many people in Egypt. We can't feed so many mouths. We don't have enough mummy garb to go around." He would never say outright to kill them once they're already born, so he suggested, for demographic purposes, to murder them before they're actually born. 
In more contemporary words, he isn't killing any baby boys; he's commanding forced abortions! He was teaching them the simanim with the head (faced up or down) so that before the baby's officially born, if they see it's a boy, they kill him.
Paraoh was the first Pro Choice activist.
Roe vs. Wade vs. Paraoh.
Now is when the miyaldot call him Paraoh. With this one simple word, an entire conversation took place indirectly.
"You think you'll fool us ? You're no melech Mitzraim. You're Paraoh the murderer. The rasha. Killing the kid before he's born is the same as after. Today you're killing before they're born.... but tomorrow you'll be murdering after they're alive, too." 
 Which is exactly what happened.
[And, by the way, there was no one more appropriate to give Paraoh that mussar shmooze than Yocheved. She was indicating that she, herself is the proof that a child prebirth, is just as much of a human being as a child after birth. When the Jews were going down to Mitzraim, they were counted as shivim nafesh, 70 people. In reality, there were only 69 people traveling down to Egypt. What did they do, round it out to the nearest whole number? No. Yocheved wasn't born yet, but she was on the way. She was still in the womb, but nonetheless, was completely counted as a human being.]
Paraoh was using a certain strategy to cover up his crime, making believe it was the right thing to do. This is a strategy many of us use, many times, to convince ourselves or others that we're doing the right thing.
This is the concept of   RATIONALIZATION.
What is rationalization?
Rationalization means making up a good reason for something, instead of admitting the true reason.
Rationalization is so common, that if we were to stop doing it, the silence would give us a headache. We rationalize to others, giving excuses or logical explanations as to why we did or didn't do something, but a LOT of rationalizing goes on internally- within ourselves, many times without even realizing what we're doing.
Why do we do this?
When we're not able to admit to something, we try to cover it up. We give a logical sounding reason, thereby allowing us to not have to face the truth. It's a defense mechanism.
Ok, picture for a second, a typical market place with merchants trying to sell their goods. There's one man, in a little booth, selling excuses. "Ladies and gentlemen, excuses for sale! Buy them before they're used. Hot for now, cold for later. Excuses for sale!!"
One of his neighboring merchants turned to him and told him that he's seen him selling excuses for 20 years already, and he still has no money. He wanted to know what he's doing wrong.
"That's the way it is with excuses", he said. "Even if people buy them, they never make you rich".
It has been said that success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. When someone is successful, they take a lot of credit for it, but when they fail, they look around for someone or something to blame it on. A traumatic upbringing, bad luck, and unhappy marriage, bad teachers in kindergarten, friends, chavrusas, therapists...- anyone but themselves.
What's so bad about making excuses?
The only way to improve a situation is to recognize that we, ourselves are responsible for our situation.
If someone has a temporal problem, and is prone to coming late, he can have all the excuses in the world, and people might actually buy them, but they'll never 'make him rich'. He'll never improve and grow from the problem.
If we keep blaming others, even if it's legitimate we won't ever find a solution, and we will forever remain on that level, with that weakness.
Let's have in mind that even if people excuse us with our rationalizations, and we end up fooling them, and we get off "free", we can never really get off free. Because our conscience will constantly scold us and make us miserable, since we  know it's all just a cover.
We can run, but we can't hide.... from ourselves. Face it, and deal with it.

Rationalize= Rational Lies