“And it was when Pharaoh sent the nation…” (Shemos 13:17)

 The Midrash asks: Why does the pasuk write as if Pharaoh sent them from Mitzrayim? Didn’t Pharaoh harden his heart even in the face of the Makkos? If it was only the fear of death that finally prompted him to free them, why give him credit?

 Answers the Midrash: Because he accompanied them several steps when they left. The same mouth that said, “Who is Hashem that I should listen to Him?” was the same one that ended up telling Klal Yisrael to go. And because he accompanied them, it’s recorded in the Torah for eternity that “Pharaoh sent the nation…” Furthermore, he merited reward for his whole nation in that we are commanded (Devarim 23:8): “Do not despise a Mitztri…” (Rav Yehudah Leib Chasman, Ohr Yahel) 


ina had an Attitude. With a capital A.

She’d show up late for class, argue bitterly over imaginary points lost on tests, and harass any classmate who looked at her wrong.

It was difficult to maintain a pleasant demeanor in her presence. Trying to teach her was a daunting experience. Dina loved to argue, and fancied herself a top courtroom lawyer as she debated issues that had little to do with the topic presented. During extracurricular activities she’d accuse others of cheating, or sabotage an activity or game that wasn’t to her liking. She was confrontational, belligerent, mercurial, and melodramatic.

I’m a staunch believer that there’s no such thing as a “bad child.” Yet, to put it mildly, Dina was a Challenge. With a capital C.

It says in Bereishis (2:7): “And Hashem took dust from the ground and blew into his nostril a living soul.” We see that a person is made up of these two forces — his infinite soul and his finite body. His actions and thoughts are fueled by these forces.

 Hashem is infinite and so is the soul He blew into us. Yet the physical world is finite and cannot understand the eternal soul. However, in the World to Come, all our thoughts and actions will be analyzed and attributed to one of these two forces — the finite and the infinite. Only Hashem can categorize this because only He knows the true intent behind every action and thought. 

 It was late evening one cold rainy December night. I was supervising rehearsals in the auditorium and things just weren’t going smoothly. The acoustics were misbehaving, the dance troupe leader sprained her ankle, and everyone was complaining about the late hour.

Finally, I decided to call it quits.

“Okay, all. We have rehearsal again tomorrow evening, but for now I want everyone to get a good night’s sleep. I need to talk to the costume heads, but the rest of you get ready to go home.”

I saw relief on the girls’ faces as they stretched and began packing up. “Oh, one more thing.” I glanced around the messy auditorium. “Can anyone volunteer to straighten up the folding chairs? The elementary needs rows of chairs for davening tomorrow morning.”

There was silence as girls looked wearily at each other.

Then from the back a voice piped up. “I’ll do it.”

I must’ve been more tired than I thought because it sounded like Dina’s voice. Sure enough, heads were turning as Dina walked forward and began dragging a stack of chairs.

“Why’s everyone staring? I said I’d do it.”

Shrugging, girls packed knapsacks, picked up coats, and began heading out the door.

   Even Pharaoh could have a tiny spark within him that wanted to do good. And when he acted upon that, it was recorded for eternity. Despite the fact that this good deed was buried within wickedness, it didn’t get lost in the Heavens. It had eternal ramifications, as we are still not allowed to hate a Mitzri.

 How much more so each one of us. This is what the pasuk in Iyov (33:23–24 ) says: “If there is but one defending angel out of a thousand to declare a man’s uprightness on his behalf, then [Hashem] will be gracious to him…”   

 A half hour went by as I consulted with the costume heads. Throughout it all, there was a steady background noise of scraping and clanging as Dina worked solidly setting up rows and rows of chairs.

Finally, I wrapped things up and turned to get my coat. The auditorium was immaculate, each row perfectly straight.

“Thanks, Dina.” I smiled warmly at her. “You really saved the day.”

For once Dina was silent.

It was a Moment. One I hoped to capitalize upon. (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 577)