During the period of the Judges (the roughly 350 years from the death of Joshua until David became king), the Jewish people had sinned, and Hashem subjugated them to the Midianites for seven years. In desperation, the people cried out to Hashem, Who sent a prophet to help them (Judges 6: 8,9).
(ח) וַיִּשְׁלַח יְדֹוָד אִישׁ נָבִיא אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם כֹּה אָמַר יְדֹוָד אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אָנֹכִי הֶעֱלֵיתִי אֶתְכֶם מִמִּצְרַיִם וָאֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים (ט) וָאַצִּל אֶתְכֶם מִיַּד מִצְרַיִם וּמִיַּד כָּל לֹחֲצֵיכֶם וַאֲגָרֵשׁ אוֹתָם מִפְּנֵיכֶם וָאֶתְּנָה לָכֶם אֶת אַרְצָם
- And Hashem sent a prophet to the Jewish people and he said to them. “So has Hashem the G-d of Israel said: ‘I took you out of Egypt and I took you out of bondage. 9. I saved you from the hands of the Egyptians and from your oppressors and I gave you their land.’”
An angel then appeared to Gidon the son of Yoash and told him, “Hashem is with you O mighty hero!”
Gidon responded to the angel,
(יג) וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו גִּדְעוֹן בִּי אֲדֹנִי וְיֵשׁ יְדֹוָד עִמָּנוּ וְלָמָּה מְצָאַתְנוּ כָּל זֹאת וְאַיֵּה כָל נִפְלְאֹתָיו אֲשֶׁר סִפְּרוּ לָנוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ לֵאמֹר הֲלֹא מִמִּצְרַיִם הֶעֱלָנוּ יְדֹוָד וְעַתָּה נְטָשָׁנוּ יְדֹוָד וַיִּתְּנֵנוּ בְּכַף מִדְיָן
- And Gidon said to him, “Please my master, is Hashem still with us? Why, then, has all this happened to us? And where are all His wonders of which our forefathers told us saying, ’Behold, Hashem brought us up from Egypt? For now, Hashem has deserted us and he has delivered us into the grip of Midian.’”
Rashi provides the background for this statement:
אשר ספרו לנו אבותינו – פסח היה, אמר לו: אמש הקרני אבא את ההלל, ושמעתיו שהיה אומר (תהלים קיד א): בצאת ישראל ממצרים, ‘ועתה נטשנו’, אם צדיקים היו אבותינו, יעשה לנו בזכותם, ואם רשעים היו, כשם שעשה להם נפלאותיו חנם כן יעשה לנו, ואיה כל נפלאותיו:
It was Passover. Gidon told him, “Last night my father read me the Hallel and I heard him saying (Psalm 114) “When the Jewish people left Egypt … Hashem took them out with amazing miracles!” And now Hashem has abandoned us! If our forefathers were righteous, then Hashem should redeem us in their merit, and if they were evil, then Hashem should redeem us even though we don’t deserve it, just like He redeemed them, even though they didn’t deserve it.”
Upon hearing Gidon’s words Hashem Himself turned to him and said.
(יד) וַיִּפֶן אֵלָיו יְדֹוָד וַיֹּאמֶר לֵךְ בְּכֹחֲךָ זֶה וְהוֹשַׁעְתָּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכַּף מִדְיָן הֲלֹא שְׁלַחְתִּיךָ
“Go with this strength of yours and you shall save Israel from the grip of Midian; Behold I have sent you!”
To which “strength” was Hashem referring? What was it that Hashem saw in Gidon that indicated that he was the one to save the Jewish people?
The simple reading is because Gidon spoke favorably about the Jewish people and was not critical of them. A leader must always believe in his people. But there is more.
It was Pesach, and at the seder the night before, Gidon heard his father relating the miracles that Hashem performed for the Jewish people when He took them out of Egypt. This is what raised the question in his mind. It’s Pesach now, the holiday on which Hashem saved us with many amazing miracles! Where are those miracles now? Why isn’t He doing the same for us now? We are in the same situation with the Midianites, and Hashem has forsaken us! Where is He?
Gidon’s expectation that Hashem should once again save His nation was the quality that so impressed Hashem. Gidon took deeply to heart the message of Pesach and was building on the fact that Hashem took us out of Egypt with so many miracles, as the reason that Hashem should once again save them from their current situation! Via the exodus, Hashem established Himself as our savior. It is inappropriate that Hashem’s nation should endure hardship and embarrassment. It is also an embarrassment to Hashem that His nation be at the mercy of a different nation. Isn’t He all powerful? Can’t He help them?
Hashem told Gidon, “You have the confidence in Me that I will do miracles for you as I did in Egypt? You are the person to save the Jewish people, because I will do the miracles for you as I did for them, just because you expect Me to. When you put your complete trust in Me, I will not let you down.”
Indeed, Gidon defeated the Midianites without even lifting a sword! His 300 men had lanterns and shofars that they all blew at the same time, and the Midianites were so terrified that they all killed each other. This was an open miracle, and all saw that Hashem fulfilled Gidon’s expectations.
The above describes the concept of בטחון – trust and security-in Hashem. When a person puts his complete trust in Hashem, Hashem will not let him down.
Where does this concept originate? How do we know that we have the right to coax Hashem into responding to us? Hashem Himself told us to do it.
When Hashem introduced Himself to the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai with the first commandment, He characterized Himself as the “One who took you out of Egypt!” Why that moniker, and not “the creator of the world and everything in it, including you!” Our Sages teach us that Hashem wanted us to know that when He took us out of Egypt, He created a special relationship with us. In this relationship, He wants to be known as our savior. Hence, He is telling us that, when we are in trouble, He is where we need to go for salvation, just like in Egypt.
The Talmud (Shabbat 31a) says that when a person comes before the heavenly court after his life is complete, they ask him, “Did you hope for the redemption? Did you wait for the Mashiach to come?” Where does this expectation come from? Where does the Torah command us to wait for the Mashiach?
The סמ”ק – Rabbi Yosef from Korviel, says that it comes from the first commandment.
כשם שאני רוצה שתאמינו בי שאני הוצאתי אתכם, כך אני רוצה שתאמינו בי שאני ה’ אלהיכם ואני עתיד לקבץ אתכם ולהושיעכם. וכן יושיענו ברחמיו שנית
Just as Hashem wants us to believe that He took us out of Egypt, so He wants us to believe in Him that He will gather us in, and redeem us a second time by bringing the Mashiach. Hashem wants to be known as our savior.
Similarly, He will save us from all troubles that we encounter. We are his children, and we have no other Father to turn to.
This idea answers a difficult question about the Passover holiday.
Let’s say, for example, a person was in jail for many years, and at some point, a gracious individual, took up his cause and freed him from jail. The day he actually set foot on free soil was September 1st. It would be appropriate that every year, on September 1st the anniversary of his freedom, that he make a festive party for his family and close friends, to celebrate his freedom. He would invite his benefactor to join the festivities, and laud him for his goodness and thank him for the freedom that he enjoys so much. If however, after several years of freedom, our subject found himself back in jail, would it make sense for him to celebrate September 1st, the day of his previous release from jail? What would he be celebrating? He is no longer free!
Isn’t this what we are doing by celebrating Pesach? True we were freed from the slavery of Egypt on the 15th of Nissan, but, our freedom has been stripped from us. We are in exile once again, not living in Israel with the Holy Temple service in place, as it was intended to be in the Torah. We live in a world dominated by the morals and values of western civilization, not by the morals and values of the holy Torah which is what we were freed from Egypt for. In a very significant way, we are again influenced by the “gods” of the society we live in and we serve them. So exactly why are we celebrating? Aren’t we like the guy who is back in jail?
When Hashem freed us from the slavery of Egypt, he didn’t just set us free and say to us, “Okay, you are now free, you’re on your own have a nice life!” He took us out of Egypt to be His special nation. Going back to the analogy, what if the benefactor when redeeming the prisoner told him, “I am adopting you as my son! And from now on, whenever you are in trouble, you can count on me to take care of you.” Wouldn’t he celebrate the anniversary of his freedom, since that was when his relationship with this great benefactor started? The celebration of September 1st gives him great hope and promise that he will once again be redeemed from this jail sentence as well.
In the Haggadah we say:
שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר עוֹמְדִים עָלֵינוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ, וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם
In each and every generation, they stand up to annihilate us, and Hashem saves us from their hands.
We also say in the Haggadah,
בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָיִם
In each and every generation a person is obligated to see himself as if he himself left Egypt.
There is a correlation between the two “in each and every generations.” It is in the merit of seeing ourselves as having been miraculously saved from Egypt that we merit being saved from the enemy that rises up against us to annihilate us in every generation. When we deeply believe in Hashem’s ability to deliver us from any hardship, as He proved in Egypt, Hashem will always save us.
The corona virus has caused us to turn our eyes to Hashem for help. We cannot rely on the doctors, a vaccine, or a cure. We are, in this environment, sitting ducks, and only Hashem can control whether we contract it or not.
As we approach the Pesach holiday, let’s take the message of Pesach to heart and realize that Hashem is our loving Father and that He and only He can save us from our troubles, whatever they are. He actually wants us to turn to Him and say, “It’s Pesach, where are Your miracles?” This is what Gidon did, and that is why Hashem chose him to save the Jewish people.
Should you question for a second whether Hashem will do a miracle for us, just contemplate that you are here as a Jew to think about the question! By every logic and reasonable analysis, no Jew should today be alive to believe in Hashem. But we are miraculously here. Hashem deals with His people in miraculous ways, and when we turn to Him as our savior, He will not let us down.
Hashem promised us through the Prophet Michah (7:15) that the miracles that accompany the coming of the Mashiach will mirror the ones that occurred in Egypt.
(טו) כִּימֵי צֵאתְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם אַרְאֶנּוּ נִפְלָאוֹת
15) As in the days when you left the land of Egypt, I will show it wonders.
The Sages teach us that in the month of Nissan the Jews were freed from Egypt, and, similarly, in the month of Nissan, the Jews will be freed from their exile. Nissan is the month of miracles. This Pesach, let us harness the current climate and turn to Hashem to show us His miracles and redeem His children from their troubles through bringing the Mashiach. Our heartfelt, fervent prayers are sure to have a powerful impact.