Parshas Va'eira
Shemos 6:2 - 9:35

The Path Of Struggle ©

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study is offered in the loving memory of Mr. Arnold Student Litman, may he rest in peace.

In our path of struggle to change our lives, to break a habit, to overcome a problem, to conquer an addiction, to do shuvah / repentance, we are only responsible for things within our boundaries. We cannot do anything about things outside of our reach... outside of our sphere of influence.

Recently I broke my foot [5760] while stepping off the front porch. It was a serious break. My ankle turned. I fell tumbling about five feet. In the process, the fifth metatarsal of my left foot broke. The break split with one crack going into the joint of my little toe and the other doing a right hand turn running along the edge of my foot close to the toes. My wife Naomi Leah rushed me to the emergency room. They took x-rays but could tell little because of the swelling. They placed my foot in a splint until the swelling decreased. For awhile it was necessary to lie in bed with my foot elevated while icing the swollen area.. The day after the injury Naomi Leah took me to our family clinic. After an examination the doctor recommended an orthopedic specialist. We made an appointment and a week later went to the specialist who examined my foot and placed me in a cast for four weeks.

During this time I was essentially confined to the upstairs of our home. I was on crutches. We returned to the specialist at the conclusion of four weeks. The swelling had decreased. X-rays revealed the injury was healing properly. The injured foot was healing rapidly, thank G-d! They also revealed the break was severe. I was placed in an ankle brace and instructed to be very careful. The specialist said I could begin placing weight on the foot. He hoped I would be able to begin walking on it without crutches in another two weeks. Thank G-d things have progressed well. It has been a trying experience. Years later I still experience pain from time to time.

Now during that time I couldn’t walk, couldn’t drive and couldn’t work I couldn’t even attend my mother’s funeral, may she rest in peace! A snowstorm closed the road. Hours later it was reopened! For miles people were backed up as they waited to exit the freeway. We were forced to return home. This was very difficult! Yet these things were completely out of our control.

When we consider freedom... When we consider turning over a new leaf... When we consider making a change... When we consider shuvah {repentance}... Whatever we consider has to be within our realm of possibilities. We cannot do anything about things out of our control but pray and support what is right according to Ha Torah!

Considering this fact one MUST UNDERSTAND that G-d limits His revelation to man and that man limits his revelation of G-d! Revelation is a new-fangled mystery to us. Revelation is complex and novel. One person has a high I.Q. That person may read, write and speak many languages fluently. Another person may not have had the opportunity to learn even one language. One person may be more interested in the stock market than learning about G-d. Another person may live in a very humble setting, working part-time and spending most of their night and day learning about G-d. Another person may spend several hours each week attending study classes about G-d. The point is that some of us begin on a super freeway to revelation about G-d and others begin on a back country trail. Some have more ability, others less.

Then one must consider to what degree G-d chooses to reveal Himself... We learn in this week’s parsha,
'And spoke G-d to Moshe saying to him, ‘I am Hashem. I revealed Myself to Avraham, Yitzchok and to Yaakov as Alm-ghty Shaddai, but My Name Hashem I did not make known to them.’ Shemos 6:2, 3 This establishes levels by which G-d reveals Himself to us. This is one reason why G-d hears our cry! NOT THE NAME... NOT THE RELIGION.... Everyone is on different levels!!

Let’s be careful NOT to make the mistaken assumption that everyone has the same ability, the same resources, the same opportunity to receive G-d’s revelation and to properly understand
G-d’s intent! It is very easy to look at the road with blinders on. In fact, aren’t blinders designed to maintain a very narrow area of focus?

The point is that in this week’s parsha Yaakov and all of his sons were dead. The men of leadership... the men of wisdom... the men of G-d’s direct revelation were gone. Yaakov’s grandchildren were being forced into slavery. In fact, depending on their age they could have been the great grandchildren of slaves. Their grandparents were raised as slaves. Their parents were raised as slaves. They were raised as slaves. One could say that they had a slave mentality. They knew nothing else! A person who is raised and taught in a particular ideology, religion, culture, country without being exposed to other possibilities may in fact have blinders on. Seeking the truth requires us to remove our blinders. Exploration is required! Asking questions is necessary!

It was in this situation that G-d commanded Moshe to go to Mitzriam for the purpose of delivering His people from the bonds of slavery. This was not an easy task. Here we have millions of people who hate slavery but totally lack the ability to free themselves. In our world today the same thing exists. We have billions of people who want to know the truth, who want a clear revelation of G-d. Many are searching. Many religions and religious leaders claim to have the answer.... Yet the fact remains the world needs a deliverer. The world needs a deliverer who will untangle all the world’s religions, beliefs and problems. That day will come! However, until that day comes we have the responsibility of using our ability to make sense of the revelation that G-d has given us!

For example:
For me, it is easy to understand why Jesus is not G-d or the son of G-d or the Jewish Messiah. However, for many years it wasn’t so easy to understand this. Thousands of hours of study through years of consideration did not clarify, demonstrate, or communicate anything to me until one day on Shabbat when the Creator, so to speak, threw open the shutters, released the window blinds and blasted me with the revelation of Shabbat. Up until that time no amount of study gave me the slightest clue as to my misunderstandings about the beliefs and doctrines of Christians / Messianics. Now after the fact, many points are clear that were completely obscure.

I tried to know the truth and to learn the truth. It was not revealed to me. Yet it was there in black and white all along. It still is! Millions of very sincere people miss the message. Many Jews miss the same message that I missed. It is not revealed to them. In the same way G-d did not make His revelation know to Avraham, Yitzchok or Yaakov. He made his revelation known to Moshe. Moshe’s revelation is the most powerful revelation given to man,

When studying and sharing discussions about the truth of Ha Torah the effect is zero if Hashem does not unlock the doors of the reader’s mind. If Hashem does not open the door and reveal light, nothing will happen. Simply put, what we have or what we know is what G-d has revealed to us and nothing more! This does not affect a person’s free choice. If Aleph, Bet and Gimmel are revealed to us we have them. If Aleph, Bet and Gimmel are not revealed to us we cannot attain them of our own ability. They are out of our reach. They are not part of what is available to us until the Creator unlocks those doors!

This parsha teaches us that the Creator does the revealing. This parsha teaches that our choices for freedom... our cries for freedom require G-d’s help! This parsha teaches us G-d will help. It teaches us that there are steps to freedom. It’s not as simple as walking away from the slave camps that have a hold on us. It teaches us freedom is a struggle. It teaches us there are disappointments! This parsha teaches us that the rescue is not quite what one might expect.

When we cry out to Hashem it is safe to say that some of us have preconceived ideas as to how our cries should be answered. One should be careful not to set the stage for their own disappointment by their own preconceived ideas.

How does our position in life affect our cries to Hashem? What are our expectations? Do we anticipate more because we are great, because we are righteous, because we are rich? Does our position of righteousness, strength, and wealth give us a false sense of G-d’s responsibility to us? Are we expecting nothing from Hashem because we feel lowly, because we do not appear to be on a high level of righteousness, because we do not seem to be great, because we are poor? Has our lack of self esteem clouded our perception of G-d? Do we feel so low, so unworthy that our mind develops a negative expectation from G-d?

The Story of the Electric Blue Truck
Many years ago when I was a Messianic Yoelick, my son, came to me months before the holiday season in the twelfth month requesting a visit to the local toy store. At that time we celebrated both Chanukah and Christ Mass. He said, Avie, there is something I need to show you. I promised to take him soon. In my mind I worried and questioned, what does he want? After a few days had passed he approached me again. He put his little arm around my shoulder and began curling my hair with his little index finger. He asked, Avie, when are you going to take me to the toy store? I put him off with the response, Pretty soon. Yoelie questioned, ‘Will you take me this week? My response was evasive. I said, We’ll see. After several weeks of going back and forth like this Yoelie and I went to the toy store. There he showed me an electric truck he wanted. It was the kind little children ride around in with a gear shift, horn, battery, lights and such. It was a really nice electric truck. It was very expensive. In my heart because of my own lowly condition I rejected the idea - even the extremely minute possibility - of purchasing that electric truck for Yoelick. I explained it cost too much. We could not afford it based on the income from the family business. Yoelie questioned, Avie, how much business would we have to do to get 'MY BLUE TRUCK'? I said, A lot! It would require a real miracle. At the store, on the way home, the next day, the next few days, the next few weeks we talked about the impossibility of purchasing what Yoelie had already determined as 'MY BLUE TRUCK'. It seemed to me like every store we went to had an electric something or other that Yoelie wanted to show me. It didn’t seem to matter. Wherever I went there was an electric something. Even the wholesale stores we purchased from for our business carried these electric vehicles. I thought I was safe in them until one day when Yoelie took me by the hand and directed me down an aisle right to what he called 'MY BLUE TRUCK'. He wanted to know how much it cost. He wanted to know if we could afford to buy it since it was wholesale. Again, I repeated it cost too much. We could not afford it based on the income from the family business. Again Yoelie questioned, Avie, how much business would we have to do to get 'MY BLUE TRUCK'? Again I said, A lot! It would still require a real miracle. Then Yoelie informed me that he was going to pray to G-d and ask Him to give us the business, so we get his blue truck. To say the least, he was very persistent. Then Yoelie assured me that G-d would not let him down. He had such confidence! Children are like this. Adults are not like this... Why??

This was not such an easy task because Yoelie’s brother would require a gift of equal value. To me this was a difficult order to fill for a young business with poor cash flow and no extra money to spare. Yet it happened! A miracle happened! In our slowest month of the year someone placed a huge order that provided more than enough to buy Yoelick his blue truck and an equal present for his brother with plenty of money left over.

As I have revisited the memories of this incident time and time again it brings great joy and great happiness to me all over again. This was a very wonderful and special experience because it turned out just the way Yoelie had expected. However on the other hand, there have been disappointments. I have questioned, what did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?, How could I have changed things? . These feelings are all mixed up. They are crisscrossed! We give too much credence to our ability and our power to change things!
Again we can only change what is within our grasp!

In this week’s parsha Moshe was feeling lowly. He was feeling down. He was experiencing the feelings of failure after sparring with Pharaoh. He was experiencing the feelings of rejection from Pharaoh and the feelings of dejection from B’nei Yisroel whose workload was greatly increased because of the demands he placed on Pharaoh. It was during these emotional contractions that Moshe said to Hashem,
'Behold the B’nei Yisroel have not listened to me, and how then will Pharaoh listen to me - I whose lips are obstructed.' Shemos 6:13

Several years ago the Denver Broncos lost to Jacksonville in their first playoff game at home. Most of the media had predicted an overwhelming victory for Denver. The odds makers had Denver as 14 points favorite to win. They were already selected by odds makers to go to the Super Bowl and win. Then they lose! After they lose the players are dejected! The Bronco fans are angry and frustrated. Denver merchants cry about the money they could have made but didn’t. Stores that ordered Bronco items were taking as much as a 50% markdown to unload these items. Why did all this happen?

There are many theories why it happened and there will continue to be. One player, Michael Dean Perry, who failed to hustle off the field on the fourth down was greatly affected by this loss. His lack of hustle might have cost the Broncos the game. As a result at the end of the game when he was full of emotions of dejection, he said he was retiring.

Why did I react weakly? Why did I reject the idea - even the extremely minute possibility - of purchasing that blue electric truck for Yoelick?

Why did Moshe say
'B’nei Yisroel have not listened to me, how then will Pharaoh listen to me - I whose lips are obstructed.'

Why were the Bronco fans angry and frustrated?

Why were merchants crying loss?

Why was Michael Dean Perry stating he was going to retire?

WHY? Expectations...When Moshe went to Pharaoh he had high expectations! He, a former outcast of Pharaoh, a shepherd, was going to lead B’nei Yisroel out of Mitzriam. He was directed by G-d to do this. He was given some pretty nifty displays of power to persuade Pharaoh. To us it seems like he should have succeeded immediately. Moshe was directed by the Creator of the universe. Moshe was backed by the Creator of the universe. However Pharaoh did not respond as Moshe expected. At that time he didn’t get his electric blue truck or his Super Bowl win or make a killing selling Bronco items. Moshe felt like a failure. He felt so low and so dejected. WHY? EXPECTATIONS! Things did not go as he expected!

This is just a reminder to us that in our struggle to break away from slavery’s grasp, it may not happen as quickly as we would like. It may take a different path than we care to travel. There may be some setbacks. We may face disappointments resulting from expectations. We may feel like we have more power or influence on situations than we actually have. We may blame ourselves for things outside our sphere of influence.

Notice how Hashem responded to Moshe’s complaint.
'And Hashem [then] spoke to Moshe and to Aharon commanding them regarding the B'nei Yisroel and Pharaoh, king of Mitzriam, to bring out B’nei Yisroel from the land of Mitzriam.' Exodus 6:13

Essentially Moshe’s complaint resulted in Hashem giving him a command,
'Bring out B’nei Yisroel from the land of Mitzriam.' G-d spoke to Moshe. Moshe spoke to G-d. Moshe was educated by the very best in institutes in Mitzriam. He had position. He was the son-in-law of Yisro a trusted advisor of Pharaoh. Moshe had the revelation. Moshe had G-d’s commitment / His command. Yet even after all this it was ten plagues later and a year of struggle down the road before Pharaoh let B’nei Yisroel go.

This was NOT Moshe’s fault! This is an historical example. This is the pattern... the struggle... the path... freedom often requires. This is why one needs to understand G-d is in control! This is why one needs to practice trust in G-d and in His timing. This is why one needs to recognize things in this life are not always based upon one’s ability or on one’s position or on one’s revelation.

Understanding these paths, the paths of freedom and learning the road signs, the road signs of progress help us to continue forward on the path...

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Written in 5760
Updated in 5764

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