Prior to the miracle of the splitting of the Yam Suf, the verse states (Exodus 14-10)”And Pharaoh approached(Hikriv) and the Jewish people lifted their eyes and behold Egypt was traveling after them and they became very frightened and the children of Israel cried out to Hashem.” Rashi is bothered by the Torah’s use of the word “Hikriv.” This word is in the “Binyan Hif’il which is the causative verb form. “Approached” is not the literal translation of the word. The literal translation of “Hikriv” is “And he caused to approach”. Rashi therefore says that the meaning is that he(Pharaoh) caused himself to come closer and made an effort to go ahead of his people in order to catch the Jews.
In response to the aforementioned question the Midrash Rabbah(21-5) offers a different explanation. The midrash explains that the meaning of the words “U’Pharaoh Hikriv” is that Pharaoh caused Israel to come close to their father in heaven. This means that the terror that the Jewish people felt when they saw Pharaoh approaching, caused them to pray feverishly and fervently to G-d almighty. Perhaps this can be likened to a boy who is in a park with his father. In an effort to assert his independence, the boy refuses to hold his father’s hand. Suddenly, the boy sees a barking dog approaching and of course the boy runs and jumps into his father’s arms, hugging his father tightly.
Rabbi Yehudah Berachah writes that this concept is very pertinent in our times. There is a gargantuan proliferation of anti Semitism and terrorism in the world. Many Jews are feeling quite insecure. Explains Rabbi Berachah that the purpose of this turbulence is to draw Israel closer to their father in heaven in order to bring the final redemtion. The Gemarah in Sanhedrin(97B) states that Israel will be redeemed only when they repent. The Gemarah continues that if Israel do not repent, then Hashem will send a king who’s decrees are worse than those of Haman to persecute them, thereby causing their repentance. Maimonides in the laws of Repentance(7-5) also writes that the Jews will only be redeemed through repentance.
Rabbi Avraham Azulay(1570-1643) in his work “Hesed Le’Avraham” wrote that in the year 5760 of the Jewish calendar, the verse which states that Hashem will remove the unclean spirit from the land, will be fulfilled. Rabbi Berachah keenly discerned that in the year 5760(2000C.E.) the second intifada began. This caused a great awakening to repentance by the Jewish people. This means that Hashem brought the intifada in order to arouse Jews to repent from their unclean spiritual ways for the purpose of bringing the final redemption.
In light of this revelation, we can perceive the silver lining in the clouds of pain of our Jewish brethren. Hence, when we look at these chaotic times, instead of feeling afraid and insecure, let us feel HaShem’s love. Let us see within the faces of hatred the warm smile of our father in heaven. When we hear about a synagogue that was vandalized or about Jews who were terrorized, let us hear G-d Almighty’s loving voice stating “My dear children I love you. Please come back to me so that I can halt your pain and bring you the final redemption.” When we remember something painful, let us remember the message of “U’Pharaoh Hikriv”.
Have a Shabbat Shalom.