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Wednesday, Shevat 3, 5779 / January 9, 2019


In this week’s Parsha, Bo, we read about the last three plagues; locust, darkness, death of the first born, which G-d brought upon the Egyptians.  In this Parsha we read about the Exodus.


Before bringing upon the Egyptians the final plague, G-d told Moshe, "I request that you speak to the people [of Israel] and tell them to borrow from their [Egyptian]neighbors silver and gold ornaments and clothes."  The Torah continues, "And the children of Israel did as Moshe told them and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold.  And G-d gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians and they lent them" (Exodus 12:35-36).  


Q.  The expression the Torah uses is "V'yishalu" - "they shall borrow."   Why did G-d want them to take it as a loan? The Egyptians would have given it to them as a gift. The plague of the first-born was raging throughout Egypt, and they were anxious that they leave as fast as possible.


A.  By telling them to "borrow" the gold and silver, G-d wanted to teach them that one must consider wealth as a loan from G-d.  Therefore, it must be used properly and a percentage given to charity.   For, if it is not used as G-d intended, He may at any time take it back, for it is with us only on loan!     


A Jew once became rich and his lifestyle changed. Previously, he gave charity, cared for others and helped them as much as he could.  Now he had become miserly and had no time for others.


One day, he was visited by his rabbi. The rich man showed off his beautiful home and boasted to the rabbi about his wealth. 


Perceiving the change in his former student, the rabbi called him to the window.  Pointing to the outside, the rabbi asked, "What do you see?"


"I see poor people passing to and fro trying to earn a living," he replied. Walking over to a large mirror the rabbi told the rich man to look in.  "Now what do you see?" asked the rabbi. "Myself, of course."


"I don't understand," said the rabbi.  "Both the window and the mirror are made of glass. So why, when you look through the window, you see the poor people outside but in the mirror, you see only yourself!"


"The reason is simple!" said the rich man. "The mirror has a silver coating which prevents one from seeing through.  However, the window has no silver coating, so you can see through."


"Exactly!" the rabbi nodded.  "It seems that when the silver is in the way all you see is yourself!  Maybe you'd be better off without the silver!" The rich man now got the message. He promised to improve his ways and he began giving charity as before.


G-d wanted to teach the people that physical possessions are given to us on loan. They should not become an obstacle to blind us from seeing others, instead they should be used to help others.