Parshas Shemos Shemos
Exodus 1:1 - 6:1

What Is the Purpose of My Existence? ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Mordechai and Mrs. Augusta Litman, may they rest in peace.

Why was I born to this mishpacha? Why is this particular man my Avie? Why is this particular woman my Emah? Why was I born to an observant family? Why is my family assimilated? Why am I a Jew? Why am I wealthy? Why am I poor? Why? Why?

Holy reader, pondering questions like these is VERY GOOD! It is very good for Jews to consider what the purpose of their existence is. Then when we understand our purpose, it is good for us to dedicate all our being to its fulfillment!

Parshas Shemos begins explaining why Kal Yisroel was enslaved by the people of Mitzriam. We could say that the slavery was unfortunate but it wasn't! It was Hashem's plan as He told Avraham. It was Hashem's desire...

"And He {Hashem} said to Avram, 'Know this for sure, your descendants will be foreigners in a land {Mitzriam} that is not theirs. They {the people of Mitzriam} will enslave them {Kal Yisroel} and oppress them [for] four hundred years. But also that nation whom they serve, I will judge. Afterwards they {Kal Yisroel} will leave with great wealth." Genesis 15:13,14

"Yisroel {Yaakov} journeyed with all that he possessed, and he came to Beer Sheva. He offered sacrifices {there} to the G-d of his father, Yitzchok. G-d said to Yisroel in a night vision, and He {G-d} said, 'Yaakov, Yaakov.'

And he {Yaakov} said, 'Here I am.'

He {G-d} said 'I am the Alm-ghty, G-d of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Mitzriam, for there I will make you into a great nation. I will go down with you to Mitzriam, and I will also surely bring you up again..." Genesis 46:1-4

So, dear reader, one could FEEL LIKE the slavery was unfortunate but at the same time one should understand that the slavery was purposeful even though it was painful!

As we discussed Parshas Vayeishev {Genesis 37:1 - 40:23} in an article entitled "Problems With The Family" on the surface Yaakov appeared to be the deceiver. Yet when the surface was peeled away Yaakov was actually "Yisroel the restorer!"

Yosief was sold into slavery by his brothers. Hashem permitted this to happen. Again our emotions may rise up to shout out what a horrible thing Yosief's brothers did. Yet again it was actually instituted by Hashem!

"Yosief's brothers saw that their father was dead, and they said, 'Perhaps Yosief still bears a grudge against us. He will then certainly repay us for all the evil that we did him.' They sent a command to Yosief saying, 'Your father issued a command before his death, saying, 'This is what you should say to Yosief, 'Please forgive the transgressions of your brothers and their sin, for they did evil to you. And now please forgive the transgression of the servants of the G-d of your father.'

"Yosief wept as his brothers spoke to him. His brothers also went and threw themselves down before him, and they said, 'Behold, we are your slaves.'

"Yosief said to them, 'Fear not! For am I in {the} place of G-d? You meant to do evil to me, but G-d meant it for good, in order to do as it is today, to preserve the lives of a great people. And now, fear not! I will provide for you and your little ones.' He comforted them and spoke to their hearts." Genesis 50:15-21

Again, holy reader, one may FEEL LIKE Yosief's slavery was wrong and unfortunate but at the same time one should understand that Yosief's slavery was designed to save the lives of Kal Yisroel even though it was painful and difficult for Yosief!

The Story: The Sign, "I removed You From Mitzriam!"
Holy reader, years ago I was alone in the basement of a moderate apartment living in Denver's West Side Jewish Community. My former spouse had filed divorce papers. The divorce date was set. Then the date was extended. Then the date was extended again. Then the date was extended a third and final time. Each time the date was extended I became very angry!! It was difficult being held in this limbo between a non Jewish relationship and freedom. I was so unhappy with my former spouse. I blamed her for this period of misery! Yet in actuality she had NOTHING to do with it!

Years earlier, on the Shabbos that I received a revelation of Shabbos Observance, it was clear to me that my spouse would divorce me. It was clear that my parents would forsake me! It was clear that my siblings would turn against me! It was clear that my sons would reject me for a period of time! And many other things were so very clear. However it was extremely difficult for me to remain focused on that revelation while holding the notice of the third extension for the court date that was needed to conclude the marriage. This limbo between the separation and divorce dragged on and on for over twenty-four long difficult months... It was time for this to be settled. That Friday afternoon a few hours before Shabbos was to begin was so extremely difficult. I was flooded with such unhappiness!

A few days later as I stared at the date on the court order with a close friend it became clear that the date set for the dissolution of this marriage was just a few hours before Pesach began. My friend angrily said, "What chutzpah... to schedule this on Erev Pesach and Shabbos..."

I responded, "No, it is a sign." My friend questioned with protest. I said this date was indeed a sign that freedom was near. Pesach is the time for freedom." We both agreed. I knew that this was the final extension. That was a relief.

Holy reader, even though all this was evident to me I bitterly blamed my former spouse FOR MY PROBLEMS until one morning when I was davening Yi He Chi Vood, the part that says, "I Am Hashem, your G-d who raised you from the land of Mitzriam, open wide your mouth and I will fill it. {Psalms 4:27} It was right then that I heard these words: "I Am Hashem, your G-d Who REMOVED you from Mitzriam," referring to my former relationship. In other words I was made aware that it was Hashem who took me out of that relationship. That it was Hashem who delegated each delay for His purpose.

Holy reader, it can be difficult to accept as well as understand that Hashem causes us pain and suffering for our betterment!

Now the point to this is that in Parshas Shemos, Kal Yisroel was in bitter slavery which was determined by Hashem. It was from this slavery that Hashem delivered them as one people, as one nation to receive the Torah. It was from the entanglement of a nonJewish relationship that Hashem delivered me ON EREV {the afternoon before} PESACH, the time of freedom... the festival of freedom, so that I would know it was indeed Hashem that had delivered me.

Some time ago I left a Jewish organization under less than acceptable conditions. There was no question I was treated horribly... insulted... disrespected... lied about... and more. Yet even though my wife Naomi and I were deeply hurt in this sad, sad disappointing fiasco, Hashem was still glorified! All along it was Hashem's plan that we along with a few other loyal dedicated Jews would begin JewishPath, Inc.,, and other fine organizations. This year, Hashem be praised, more than 500,000 Torah lessons will be studied as a result of

Holy reader, keep your head held high. Hashem uses difficulties to spawn greatness! We at JewishPath are so thankful for His greatness in using our vessels for His purposes. Now wherever you are, Hashem has a definite plan for your life. You have a contribution to make to this world... You have a purpose... Your purpose is important even if it is as simple on the surface as being a slave in Mitzriam!

Moshe three months after his birth was placed in an ark of salvation so some eighty years later he might deliver Kal Yisroel as stated in this week's parsha. Moshe was orphaned at three months. He was adopted by a pagan princess who raised him according to the customs of Mitzriam. Moshe as a brilliant young man with seemingly everything going his way rejected those practices and fled Mitzriam. He rejected his potential throne as king of Mitzriam. He fled Mitzriam across the bamidbar, the wilderness, to become the son - in - law of Yisro, the priest of Midian and an adviser to Moshe's 'adopted grandfather,' Pharaoh. Moshe, a graduate of the world's best universities, seemed to be throwing his life away as a simple shepherd. His genius seemed unchallenged... His greatness appeared to be lost forever... Yet all of this was in Hashem's plan... In His purpose for Moshe's life.

Dear reader, it was not by chance that Moshe turned aside to view the burning bush that was not consumed, it was by divine providence! The same can be said for each of us. What happens to us is not by chance. It is not by accident! Every action in our life can and does serve a greater purpose... we just need to accept it. We need a new paradigm of what our purpose is. We may not like what Hashem has chosen for us to do. Moshe didn't like going to Mitzriam. He didn't like facing Pharaoh. He didn't like leading Kal Yisroel. Yaakov didn't like deceiving his father. Yosief didn't like waiting twenty-two years to again see his father.

Holy reader, we have a task. It may not be easy but it is our responsibility. You may think, I need to search for what my purpose is.... NOT SO! Dear reader, at the appointed time from out of nowhere you will be confronted with your purpose. You will not miss it! It will be crystal clear. It could be even a few minutes or seconds before death... Hashem prepared Moshe for eighty years, Noah for hundreds of years {he was 600 when the flood came}. {Genesis 7:6} You may be very young. Dovid Ha Melech was the youngest and apparently least from among the sons of Jesse, yet at his young age he was anointed as King over Yisroel. Gideon acknowledged that he was least in his father's house but he was selected by Hashem there in the field where he hid. {Judges 6} Deborah, Ruth and many others were selected by Hashem for a very important, specific role. When your time comes to know what your purpose is on this earth you will know...

May Hashem bless you with understanding and acceptance of His purpose for your life!

Good Shabbos,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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