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Divrei Torah: How Kind Is Your Kindness?

Why did G-d command the Israelites to ask the Egyptians for gifts if they would receive the spoils at the Red Sea?
Rav Aryeh Levin, the famed Tzadik of Yerushalyim, like many other great men, was reputed to carry only small coins with him. This practice was not only due to a modest lifestyle. Rav Aryeh was frequently approached by those asking for alms. Rav Aryeh did not want to pull out a larger denomination and ask for change, lest the petitioner think for even a second that he was going to receive a larger donation. For Rav Aryeh it was preferable to walk around with the burden of many small coins than to potentially disappoint another person for even a second.

This midda comes directly from HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself.

After exiting the Yam Suf, the Jewish people discovered a treasure beyond their wildest imaginations. Confident that they would easily overtake the fleeing slaves, the Egyptians took chase with their finest horses and chariots. These ceremonial chariots were fashioned from gold and bejeweled with precious stones. After drowning in the sea, these chariots were spewed onto the beach so that Jews would see the corpses and be certain that the threat was over.

The Jews gathered up these spoils with such abandon that Moshe literally needed to pry them away. This treasure was worth many times more than the wealth of Egypt that Bnei Yisrael had taken from their neighbors.

If so, what was the need for the Jews to ask from the Egyptians? G-d knew well what was waiting for them on the other side of the sea. Why trouble them and potentially cause issues with their neighbors? Couldn’t they wait a week for the ultimate “payoff”?

Chazal teach us that HaShem commanded this taking from Egypt so that Avraham Avinu would not have any “complaints”. He could have said “the promise of 400 years of slavery You kept but they will go out with great wealth You didn’t?? How could You enslave them without the reward when leaving??”

Therefore, in order to “keep His word”, HaShem wanted to ensure that the Jews had plenty of wealth as they left Egypt.

The question remains.

If Avraham Avinu, resting comfortably in Chevron, would see the vast treasure of the Yam Suf, wouldn’t he have gladly “forgiven” those few days from the Exodus until the splitting of the sea?

The answer is simple yet so deep. Hakadosh Baruch didn’t want Avraham to suffer or be disappointed for even a “second”. Although he would have been overjoyed when “seeing” the spoils of the sea, there would have been a few days until that materialized. He would have been disappointed wondering about the wealth promised to his children.

The first day of the counting of the Omer is “Chesed Sh’bchesed”, the “kindness within kindness”. Our journey from slavery toward receiving the Torah begins on the right foot, with the foundation of chesed, the hallmark of Avraham and his descendants.

We should always strive to make certain that even when doing chesed for another, that we incorporate as much sensitivity and consideration within the act itself, toward the beneficiary of our kindness.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

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