What’s more, even Pharoah’s heretical sorcerers admitted that the plagues were the work of ‘the finger of G-d’. So, how can it be that our holy brothers and sisters couldn’t even see this?
But, the Ben Ish Chai (in the sefer, Da’at U’Tevunah), gives us a beautiful answer.
In this book, the Ben Ish Chai writes that Pharaoh was actually on an exceedingly high spiritual level (just not from the Holy side). He knew G-d existed. He knew tons about the spiritual make-up of the world. But - and this is the crucial bit - he did not understand who G-d was.
In Pharoah’s incorrect understanding, he thought that G-d was ‘Elokim’ – the name symbolizing strict judgment. That’s why in the Torah, when Moshe came to Pharoah to ask him to set free Am Yisrael, we see Pharoah quoted as saying “I don’t know this Hashem [the Divine Name, YKVK]”.
The Divine name YKNK is the name associated with mercy. ‘A G-d of mercy?’ Pharoah had never heard of such an idea. ‘A G-d of strict judgment, I can accept. But mercy? No chance’.
And, that brings us to our own holy brothers and sisters in Egypt. They witnessed Hashem’s miraculous destruction of Egypt. They knew without doubt that G-d existed. But, they also made the same mistake that Pharoah made.
‘This is a destructive G-d. A G-d of anger and retribution. Who knows if we’ll be next on the list,’ they told themselves. ‘With my bad middot and with all my millions of sins, this G-d certainly won’t be interested in saving me.’
And so, ‘midda k’neged midda’, Hashem acquiesced to their conclusions and they didn’t get out.
Back to our present time. Our Sages have told us that just as it was in the redemption from Egypt, so will it be in the final redemption. So, when we’re sitting round the table on Seder night, hoping that this is the year we’ll finally get redeemed, we should ask ourselves if we really believe in the Divine name of Hashem, the G-d of Mercy.
Do we really believe in His kindness and mercy, and that He loves us completely and unconditionally? Do I truly accept that His love for me is not related to my few good deeds or my abundant sins?
If I’m stuck feeling bad about myself, and – in truth - bad about G-d, and I’m still believing that He’s not interested in me, or that I’m a ‘lost case’, or that my sins are too great, then I haven’t learned the lesson from 3,000 years ago.
Hashem loves me and He loves you, period. No ifs, buts or conditions attached. He’s just waiting for us to catch up to His view of the world, and our place in it.
B’ezrat Hashem, may we all merit to feel G-d’s love, kindness and mercy this Pesach. Our Sages tell us that in Nissan they were redeemed, and in Nissan they will be redeemed. May it be this year, 5777, b’ezrat Hashem.