Parshat Vaera begins with Hakadosh Baruch Hu instructing Moshe to tell Bnai Yisrael that he will take them out of the slavery of Mitzrayim and bring them to Eretz Yisrael. Immediately following this we are told “Velo Shamu El Moshe Mikotzer Ruach Umayavoda Kasha,” meaning, “they did not listen to Moshe due to shortness of breath and hard work.”
Although the Torah tells us explicitly why Bnai Yisrael didn’t listen to Moshe’s message, the commentators explore whether this constituted a lack of Bitachon on the part of the nation or not. Some are of the opinion that it merely reflects a difficult situation, which made it almost impossible for Bnai Yisrael to believe what Moshe was telling him.
Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, in his commentary Meshech Chochma, makes an interesting comment on the reaction of Bnai Yisrael. Moshe makes two points in his statement to the Nation. Firstly, Hashem will redeem Bnai Yisrael and rescue them from slavery. Secondly, they are told that Hashem will bring them to the land promised to their forefathers, Eretz Yisrael. The Meshech Chochma explains that while the first point made by Moshe resonated with Bnai Yisrael, the second Havtacha was beyond what they could deal with at the time. As slaves in Mitzrayim, the most basic need of the Nation was attaining freedom. To speak to them about becoming a great Nation in a land flowing with milk and honey was beyond their immediate aspirations and therefore seen as unattainable. In fact, the Meshech Chochma suggests somewhat tongue in cheek, that immediately following this exchange Moshe is instructed by Hashem to speak only of leaving Egypt and not mention the next part of the plan. Given the situation of the moment, it was not an idea that Bnai Yisrael could relate to.
Certainly we can understand the logic of this point of view. It would be foolish to speak with a high school student about taking honors courses and receiving enrichment if that same student is coming to school hungry or not having his other basic needs met. To do so would be unhelpful and depressing. We must then ask why Hakadosh Baruch Hu instructed Moshe to relate this to Bnai Yisrael in the first place. Why was it important for them to hear the full plan at a time whne they had more pressing needs facing them?
Perhaps we can suggest that although a goal seems unattainable and even irrelevant at the time, it’s essential that we recognize that goal seems unattainable and even irrelevant at the time, its essential that we recognize that goal and realize its importance. This informs and gives added meaning to the more basic steps which can now be seen as part of a greater picture. In this was it is certainly not irrelevant.
Unfortunately, the situation facing Medinat Yisrael in the past two years can give way to diminishing aspirations. Instead of dreaming of Am Yisrael, building Eretz Yisrael Al Pi Torat Yisrael, we dream of being able to walk the streets of Yerushalayim and travel on buses safely. Instead of dreaming about spiritual growth for our children when they go off to study in Israel, we hope and pray that they stay safe and out of harms way. Although we clearly must deal with the basic needs threatening by our present situation, it is imperative that we don’t loose sight of the lofty dreams and aspirations of Tzion and a Geula Sheleima.