In the opening passuk of Vaera, Hashem proceeds to reveal Himself in an even more profound way than ever before; more so than by the burning bush and to the Avot. He instructs Moshe to use the four famous expressions of redemption, inspire the people, and appear before Paraoh as a strong, united front; we are poised for what seems like a huge re-group/4th quarter rally/achdusclinic.
After Hashem’s rousing speech to Moshe, along comes passuk 9, and instead of an exuberant, rallying response from the nation, the Torah tells us (6:9):
Two interesting thoughts from this passuk:
This phenomenon exists today as well. We too can fall victim to the hardships and atrocities that are all too ubiquitous in the world today, and lose sight and hope of the future. But just like Hashem fulfilled His promise then to the Avos and Moshe Rabbeinu, by springing Bnei Yisrael from bondage, so too:
אני מאמין באמונה שלמה בביאת המשיח ואף על פי שיתמהמה עם כל זה אחכה לו בכל יום
2. Breishis Rabba links the “avodah kasha” term with virtually an entire chapter in Sefer Yechezkel. Chapter 20 in Yechezkel details the depths Bnei Yisrael descended to in Egypt, and how steeped in paganism they were. Bnei Yisrael were told to lift themselves out of the muck, but they were too mired in avodah zara, and they failed. They refused Hashem’s offer.
They were too involved with the influences of Mitzrayim to listen to the word of Hashem and the word of Moshe. There is a well-known medrash that, while enslaved in Egypt, Bnei Yisrael did not change their names or their manner of dress, but even keeping this in mind, they could still have been living in two worlds – part jewish identity, part enticed by paganism. As the Navi Eliyahu says to Bnei Yisrael, in the famous story on Har HaCarmel, in Melachim I 18:21:
So we see that the two words of “avodah kasha” is a hyperlink to an entire perek in Yechezkeil. It is not a “pretty” perek, so it makes sense that its contents wouldn’t be recorded in Shmot, which is more about the grandeur of yetziat mitzrayim, but it is a part of our history nonetheless.
In a shiur given by Rav Moshe Taragin, he discusses the concept of “deserving” redemption. Certainly, this notion of “deserving” redemption is not something that we as humans can really judge. But Rav Taragin suggest that our role in the 21st Century isn’t as much to infuse the world with the concept of a monotheistic G-d, but rather to defend our G-d and His profile. Much of the world acknowledges the existence of G-d, but vandalize His Name.
In that same light, we were given a country in 1948 and it is our job as Jews to use it as a place of morality, peace, advancements in medicine and science, education, etc. Similarly, Jews have risen to great heights in business, political office, wealth; it is our responsibility to use those positions and monetary means for tikkun olam, instead of corruption and greed. Whether we “deserve” to be redeemed now, or whether we have “deserved” it in the past, is obviously up to Hashem. But we are taught that the reason Hashem did not destroy us in Egypt, in spite of our poor behavior, was because the world would have been too devoid of Hashem’s presence without us here to represent Him. Therefore, the message is that we must embrace that responsibility and utilize our time to the fullest, as ovdei Hashem, constantly making kiddushei Hashem, and not, chas v’shalom, the opposite.
Daniella A”H, certainly understood this idea, living up to Hashem’s expectations of us in this world, infusing this world with kedusha and exemplary middos. She lived a life of chessed, integrity, tzniyus, by greeting every person she met with a smile and incredible kindness. May we continue on in her shining example.