Be Precise by Shaul Yaakov Morison


In Parashat Bo, when Mosheh warns Pharaoh of Makat Bachorot,  the plague of the first born, rather than list an exact time when the Makah would occur, he says “KeChatzot HaLayla,” “like the middle of the night” (11:4). If Mosheh was trying to prove a point with a warning, why wouldn’t he be as precise as possible? Mosheh obviously knew when the plague was set to occur, so why didn’t he give Pharaoh an exact time?

Chazal say that Mosheh used this imprecision in case Pharaoh’s advisors incorrectly calculated midnight. If the plague was thought to have started even a second earlier than prescribed time, it would have desecrated Hashem’s name. Pharaoh’s advisors may have decided that Hashem was wrong, or that Mosheh was a liar, thus discrediting Hashem.

This shows the importance of never doing or saying something that may be a Chilul Hashem; Even saying something that is close to the truth about Hashem, but is not completely truthful, needs to be avoided, as to not risk damaging another human’s perspective about Hashem.

If words that contain only a little untruthfulness are detrimental to the sanctity of Hashem’s name, we must be extremely careful with our actions. Actions, even more so than words, can define a person and what he or she believes in. Just as we need to be careful with our speech regarding Hashem, we must be extremely careful with our actions, and ensure that they broadcast only positive things about Hashem.

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