Have you ever done something that seemed right at the time and then later discovered that what it brought was a curse rather than a blessing?
Well on a simple level, my football team (and I know for many of you it is not your football team) is one game away from reaching the Super Bowl and it came out a couple of days ago that Tom Brady injured his throwing hand during practice. No one really knows the severity of the injury (the team is keeping it hush hush) but for many people across New England the thought was, “Well its ok because even if Brady is hurt we have that excellent backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to step in. Oh wait, we traded that potential heir apparent and possible next franchise quarterback to the San Francisco 49’ers a couple of months ago for a second round pick.” People in New England are saying that if Brady can’t play, it could wind up being one (of possibly) many signs that the decision to trade the backup quarterback might end having being a seemingly good decision that could now have devastating consequences.*
Outside the world of sports, whether it be within our families, work, or things we read about in the news, we have all encountered such tragic stories. Just look at the Lord of the Rings where a ring that was thought to be a blessing, wound up being a curse for anyone who wore it.
In this week’s parsha (BO) we have God telling the Israelites to take wealth from the Egyptians on their way out of Egypt. At the time I believe God thought it was a good idea. The Israelites had been unpaid laborers for 400 hundred years and it was time for them to get their reparations. Furthermore by being cared for on their way out of Egypt, God hoped that the Israelites would have been able to leave their experience of slavery behind them. Tomorrow in shul, we will look at the sources from this parsha and further on in our story of the Israelites’ travels from Egypt to Mount Sinai and eventually to Eretz Yisrael, and see how the jewelry that God hoped would close the door on a negative experience, instead led to doors opening to all kinds of negative experiences later on.
If the Torah were to have said, “And God regretted having bequeathed Egyptian wealth on the Israelites,” it wouldn’t have been the first time God is shown as having been regretful for something God did. The question is then, what can we learn about thinking carefully about decisions we are about to make and how can we remind ourselves that often times not everything that glitters is gold.
May this month which carries the holiday of Tu Bishvat remind us that true beauty lies in things like the flowers, the trees, and the annual oncoming of Spring.
Rabbi Daniel Victor
* I of course am telling myself that Brady’s hand is fine, it is nothing to worry about, and the Patriots are going to the Super Bowl.