DON’T BE A WHY’S GUY
Â one of my father’s great lessons to my family as we grew up. Â Â !Â ×œ×ž×”? ×›×›×” Â Â Why? Because! In coaching we were taught the power of a question. The greater the questions one asks, the greater the person. The less intelligent the questions one asks, the less intelligent the person. The six questions we ask are : Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why. “Why”, however, is different from the others. It is a turbo question. It can stump you, make you feel like a fool, or, if used correctly can be the question that brings you your greatest successes in life.
There is a great Hassidic twist on the words of King David, ×œ×ž×” ×™××ž×¨×• ×”×’×•×™×™× ××™×” × × ××œ×•×”×™×”× . Why should the gentiles say, ” where is their G-d?”Â Instead, read it,Â “Why”, is a question the gentiles ask; where are their gods? ‘Why’ is a gentile question. Use it gently.
I was taught by Rabbi N. Geisler, my master coach, to use the ‘why question’ sparingly. It is actually even better to change the tune to, “What is the reason?” Be especially careful when the why question is asking a person about something they did wrong, where they failed, etc. The truth is that if you ask someone a few whys, if you dig deep enough, you will hit rock bottom. There will be no answer. Why did you come late? Because I slept in. Why did you sleep in? Because I did not set my alarm clock. Why did you not set your alarm clock? Because I forgot. Why did you forget? Because I am an idiot.
You are not an idiot. You are G-dly.Â If I would ask ‘Why you are an idiot’, there would be no answer. The answer is G-d.Â Play this “Why” game on people you don’t want to like you.Â The Midrash says that asking people “Why did you do this?” gets them angry. The reason why people can’t answer why is because that is where G-d is in their life, an area of confusion for many.Â I do not ask myself, or the people in my life, Why. Unless I have to. Unless it is focused on the positive. Why did you get such a great mark on your test? Why are you doing the dishes for Mom? Why are you reading this article? Why do you like self-help articles? Why do you learn Torah? Why do you enjoy it? These “Whys” recharge motivation batteries.Â Self help gurus believe that if you have enough “becauses” to Why, or reasons for your goal, you are unstoppable.
The only blemish that Moshe had on his life record was – asking why. ×œ×ž×” ×”×¨×¢×•×ª×” ×œ×¢× ×”×–×” ×œ×ž×” ×–×” ×©×œ×—×ª× ×™ Why have you brought evil upon this nation, and why did You send me? Moshe asked this, of course, to help out His Nation. He put himself on the line for the Jewish People. But because he did, he received his worst punishment. He was not allowed into the Land of Israel (see Rashi 6; 1) . Why the Land of Israel? How was that punishment ‘measure for measure’? Because the Land of Israel is given to the Nation that does not ask Why. It is a Land about which the Whys are left unanswered. Why do all the nations fight over it? Why is Israel the Chosen Land? etc.
This week’s Parasha starts off, ×•×™×“×‘×¨ ××œ×§×™× ××œ ×ž×©×” . The word Elokim represents G-d’s attribute of Judgment, and Moshe was subjected to judgment for having asked this question. G-d told Moshe, “The ancestors never asked Me why! I will give them the Land of Israel.” Our rabbis learn from here (that G-d will give the Land of Israel to our Forefathers) a fundamental precept of our religion. Afterlife and Resurrection. Such a major, fundamental precept of our religion – where would G-d mention it? In our Parasha, where G-d reveals Himself to His nation, as the One you don’t ask Why. In our Parasha, where G-d answers, once and for all, the question of ‘why do bad things happen to good people’, ×¦×“×™×§ ×•×¨×¢ ×œ×•.Â The answer is, ×× ×™ ×”’, I am G-d. You can’t know Why. Because I am G-d, and you are human.Â There are things that we will never understand, till we die. The Arizal taught that sometimes G-d’s reason is connected to Gilgulim, Reincarnation. Sometimes, the Why has to do with the previous me: my destiny, the destiny of the world, etc. The scary thing is, that when we ask Why in the wrong place, we could be bringing the Attribute of Judgment on ourselves.
When Moshe came to the people and performed the three signs, changing river water to blood, a healthy hand to one afflicted with leprosy and turning a staff intoÂ a snake, that wasn’t convincing enough for Serah Bat Asher to accept that the redeemer of the Jews had arrived. When she heard that he said ×¤×§×•×“ ×™×¤×§×•×“, she exclaimed – “That’s the one!! He’s got the password!!”.Â The word ×¤×§×•×“ has the numerical value of 190, or the numerical value of the word ×§×¥ (see Baal Haturim) . Moshe doubted that the Jews would believe the redemption had arrived, for they had been in Egypt for only 210 years, while Avraham had been told by G-d that they had to be in a stranger’s land for 400 years! But ×¤×§×•×“, the 190 years that were left – G-d has them ‘written in on the account’. And if G-d said that He remembers us, with 190 years left, then our time has come!
A simple question. These words, ×¤×§×•×“ ×™×¤×§×•×“ , were the words that Yosef told the brothers, before he died. Moshe’s father was the Chief Rabbi of the people at the time, and he probably knew the golden password from home. So why did they believe that he heard these words from G-d? Maybe he heard them at home?
The answer is, the big Why of Moshe’s life. Moshe, in his whole life, was never really a part of the B’nei Yisrael in Egypt. He was thrown into the Nile as an infant, brought up in Pharaoh’s house, ran away to Kush, to Midian, and now he comes from the burning bush and says the password. During Moshe’s life, if you had asked him why G-d gave him such a weird, strange life, he probably would have told you, “G-d has a plan. I do not know the reason.” But the only way the suffering Jews in Egypt would buy the idea that Moshe was the redeemer was if he lived this weird, strange life outside the Jewish Community.Â This was proof that G-d revealed Himself to him and gave him the password. For if he did not hear the password from G-d, where did he hear it?
So Moshe placed himself in this predicament and asked G-d the sinful question. Why. Why did you do evil to this People? The answer to Moshe, and the answer to humanity, is, I am G-d. And you are human. I am G-d, and mortals cannot comprehend. I am G-d, and be careful when asking “Why”.