The Select Few (Vaera)
Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory. -William Barclay
In this week’s Torah reading of Vaera, God promises that he will take the Jewish people out of the slavery of Egypt and bring them to the Promised Land of Canaan. The Meshech Chochma on Exodus 6:7 points out that while 600,000 men and their families were released from the enslavement of Egypt, only two men out of the original 600,000 actually made it to the Promised Land forty years later. All of the others died in the desert during the years of wandering, caused by the Sin of the Spies. Only Joshua and Caleb were spared from the punishment and merited leading the nation of Israel into Canaan and to the successful conquest of the land, together with the children and grandchildren of the Jewish slaves who had been freed from Egypt.
On the surface, it might seem unfair or even disingenuous that God promises the people they will be brought to the Promised Land when in the end He only fulfills that promise to two individuals while the rest of the nation dies off in the desert. However, the Meshech Chochma points out that it is indeed correct and even worthwhile if only two out of 600,000 achieve their divine purpose. That all the miracles which God performed in Egypt, the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, all of it was worth it even if only two people managed to reach the final goal.
He states that the vast majority of people do not and will not fulfill their divine missions. Only a select few will endure. Only a handful of the myriads of people will persevere, will excel, will remain steadfast in their belief in God and His divine providence.
Nonetheless, it is worthwhile. The Meshech Chochma adds that those select individuals who are worthy of completing their divine missions have a positive effect on all those around them. When one person from a family completes his or her mission it provides merit to the entire family. And that somehow the two, Joshua and Caleb, who fulfilled their missions were a source of merit for the other 600,000. The select few who fulfill their divine missions serve as a beacon of justice and righteousness for the nation. They light up the world, with a burning divine fire, a Godly flame.
May we find those divine-mission-completers, draw from their light and nurture it within ourselves and our families.
To the first flurries of snow on the Judean Hills.