In last week’s Parsha, Yaakov Avinu gives Yosef the reason behind his switching hands in blessing Menashe and Ephraim: “...but his younger brother shall be greater than him”. HaRav Avigdor Miller, Z’tl, provides the following incisive insight here: “This is another instance of the surprises that Hashem caused in history. Kayin and Hevel left no posterity, for only the seed of the younger Shais survived. Yefes was older, but Shem was chosen. Yishmael was older, but Yitzchak was chosen. Esav was the first-born, but Yaakov gained the birthright and the blessings. Reuven was the first-born, but the Bechorah was given to Yosef. Menashe was the first-born, but Efraim was given the superiority. Rochel was the best-loved; but Levi gained for his posterity the privilege of nearness to Hashem--Moshe, Aharon and the Kohanim came from the Levi; and it was Leah’s son Yehudah who was the progenitor of Dovid and his seed. Indeed, the entire nation of the Jews today are the Yehudim and are accordingly labeled descendants of Leah. Dovid, the youngest son of Yishai, was chosen by Hashem after all the older brothers were rejected. These are not mere coincidences, but are Hashem’s plan of demonstrating by unexpected turns that men’s history is not a result of material causes but the hand of Hashem.”
Hakhel Note: Having provided this essential insight, we provide by the following link (supplied to us by a reader) a secular article with astounding facts about the secular year 2010--which highlights the way the happenings of this world are treated by those in this world without Emunah Chushis:
For those who prefer not to click on the link, we provide the following salient passages: “This was the year the Earth struck back. Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010, the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined....I think it is the end of the world,” she said. “Our planet warns us against what would happen if we don’t care about nature.” ....Preliminary data show that 18 countries broke their records for the hottest day ever....That’s why the people who study disasters for a living say it would be wrong to chalk 2010 up to just another bad year. The Earth strikes back in cahoots with bad human decision-making,” said a weary Debarati Guha Sapir, director for the World Health Organization’s Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. “It’s almost as if the policies, the government policies and development policies, are helping the Earth strike back instead of protecting from it. We’ve created conditions where the slightest thing the Earth does is really going to have a disproportionate impact.”.... A list of day-by-day disasters in 2010 compiled by the AP runs 64 printed pages long....”
Clearly, it behooves us all to put world events over the past twelve months in proper perspective. The reader who sent us this link also sent us the words of Rashi and the Meiri (to Yevamos 63A)--who write that these kinds of happenings occur: “K’dei LeYiram Ahd She’Yoshuvu--in order to urge us on to new levels of Teshuva. To this end, HaRav Mattisyahu Salomon, Shlita brings the Medrash in Bereishis Rabba which teaches that for twenty-five years Hashem brought volcano and earthquake types of disasters to the environs of Sedom--but the people of Sedom chose to view it in the ways of newsworthy happenings, mother-earth rumblings and the like. HaRav Salomon teaches that when the Pasuk (both by the Dor Haflaga and Sedom) teaches that Hashem “came down to see” it refers to exactly these kinds of events--for after all Hashem does not have to ‘come down’ to see-- his ‘coming down’ signifies His making His presence felt in very tangible ways--and our duty to act on his unusual kind of appearance.
We must all feel the current closeness to Hashem and respond in kind--with especially dedicated acts of Teshuva. The very fact that the secular world at large recognizes the extraordinary nature and degree of the catastrophes and disasters should serve as the springboard of our awakening--for, after all, are we not the Am Segula which is distinguished by its closeness to Hashem? Let us bli neder commit to improve in those areas in which one would be embarrassed to stand before Moshiach if he would see you (or through you). The excess desire, the jealousy, the negative chatter, the lack of ‘give’ in listening to another, the failure to treat Mitzvos with the alacrity, joy and dedication deserved (coming on time, care and helping others to perform)...everyone knows their strengths and weaknesses. What will the next twelve months bring? We hope very great things--if enough of us get the message. Each and every one of us could literally be a very great factor in helping bring billions in this world to the end of a long and difficult flight…with a smooth, successful and safe landing. Let’s accept the great responsibility--and the sacred mission!