by Rabbi Dovid Green
The last plague given to the Egyptians was the slaying of the first born.
Moshe warns Pharoah that this plague will occur at "about" midnight (Exodus
11:4). It's unusual that Moshe spoke in such terms. This is especially true
considering that G-d told Moshe the plague would occur "at midnight". Why
did Moshe alter what G-d told him? The Talmud says that if Moshe had said
exactly midnight, and the plague had occured at a time that the advisors of
Pharoah thought was slightly before or after midnight, they would claim
Moshe was a liar.
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his work "Growth Through Torah" comments that this is
a function of the power of finding fault. After nine severe plagues they
still wouldn't consider the possibility that maybe they calculated the time
incorrectly? Were they blind? However, since they were looking to find
fault, even a minor discrepancy would cause them to claim Moshe was a liar.
Finding fault is always at someone's expense. It can be very hurtful, and it
usually accomplishes little. People rarely respond positively to vindictive
criticism. Finding the positive traits in a person or a situation goes a
much longer way.
In "Duties of the Heart" by Rabbi Bachya Ibn Pekudah, a story is told to
emphasize this point. A rabbi was walking through the street with several of
his students. They came upon the carcass of a dead dog. "What a vile sight,"
they remarked. "Look how white its teeth are," responded the rabbi. With
those words the rabbi taught his students that even when there is much more
which is negative, there is still something positive to look for and find.
It is a trait which carries us through life. It effects our relationships
with our spouses, children, fellow workers, and employees to name just a few.
In this world no one and nothing is perfect. There is always fault to find.
However, the Torah teaches us the negative repercussions of being a fault
finder. We should always concentrate on seeing and emphasizing the good in
everthing. In the merit of our seeking the good in others, may G-d only seek
the good in us.
Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.