A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know about Yosef. (Shemos 1:8)
and who did not know: he acted as if he did not know about him. -Rashi
And Pharaoh said, “Who is HASHEM that I should heed His voice to let Israel out? I do not know the Lord, neither will I let Israel out.” (Shemos 5:2)
Go to Pharaoh in the morning; behold, he is going forth to the water, and you shall stand opposite him on the bank of the Nile, and the staff that was turned into a serpent you shall take in your hand. (Shemos 7:15)
behold, he is going forth to the water: to relieve himself, for he had deified himself and said that he did not need to relieve himself; so, early in the morning he went out to the Nile and there he would perform his needs. -Rashi
We are witnessing the deterioration of Pharaoh from a vulnerable leader in the times of Yosef, a man that was disturbed by a dream, then becoming a brutal dictator not only lacking in basic gratitude for what Yosef had helped him become but cruelly enslaving his family. Then he is a bold denier of The Almighty, and eventually he degenerates into a delusional self-declared deity.
The old adage is as true as ever. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Himmler (may his name be erased) said about Hitler, (may his name be erased), “In the 1930’s he was a mentch (a man). In the early 1940’s he was an uber-mentch (a superman), and by the mid 1940’s he was OIS Mentch (he wasn’t even human – inhuman).”
The comes Moshe and the Makos and everything is reversed. He is brought low and humble and the Children of Israel are born onto the stage of history. It looks to the untutored eye like an aggressive intervention. This was something totally unusual and never to be repeated. However, Dovid HaMelech reminds us over and over again in Tehillim and states clearly in the very first chapter of Tehillim.
“Happy is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, or taken the path of sinners, or joined the company of the insolent; rather, the Torah of HASHEM is his delight, and he studies it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose foliage never fades, and whatever it produces thrives. Not so the wicked; rather, they are like chaff that wind blows away. Therefore, the wicked will not survive judgment, nor will sinners, in the assembly of the righteous. For HASHEM cherishes the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is doomed.”
The Talmud affirms this comforting principle that wickedness cannot ultimately succeed, “Kushta Kai, Shikra Lo Kai”, “Truth endures while falsehood is unsustainable.”
So, what looks like a one-time event in history is really a predictable long-term pattern. In Egypt however, the mechanisms and processes of both exile and redemption are revealed. We are given a window – a box seat at the operating theater and we are witness to how things work. After that and since, however, we are relegated to the waiting room with our tear drenched Tehillim to anticipate the good news and the grander finale.
Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” That’s the world Murphy lives in. HASHEM’s law says, “Anything that can go right will eventually be made right.” If there’s anything we learn from the episode of Yosef and his brothers, the Exodus from Egypt, the Purim story, and all of Jewish history, it is that: in the end, everything is understood and turns out right.
I once heard in the name of a great Rebbe, who remarked, “If I was HASHEM, I would be doing everything exactly the way HASHEM is doing things right now. I may not understand how or why things work the way they do, but HASHEM has a precise plan.” In the short run, it may look like Murphy’s law is dominating, but in the end, it will be the reign of HASHEM’s Law!