Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
How many of life's greatest opportunities have we missed out on because we were too busy? Did the news of an amazing opportunity come directly our way, but we simply did not hear it?
Moshe Rabbeinu addresses the nation of Israel in this week's Torah portion with wonderful news: The Exodus from Egypt is about to begin. The people have been waiting for this to happen for years and now, finally, the time has come. Yet the response of the children of Israel to his moving speech is truly depressing: "And they did not listen to Moshe due to their shortness of breath and their hard labor." How could that be? Can people become so busy and distracted that they do not notice when the opportunity to go free from slavery arrives? Can what is momentarily "urgent" trump what is truly important? Can the temporary silence the historic?
The answer is that this is exactly what Pharaoh attempted to do, and this is what the evil inclination has attempted to do to us until today. In his book "Mesilat Yesharim" (Path of the Just), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato writes that we need to be very careful that this will not happen to us too: "Among the tricks of the deceptive evil inclination is to burden people's hearts with constant work, to the point where they cannot even pause, look around, and consider which road they are taking."
Do we grant ourselves time "to pause, look around, and consider" in order not to miss the announcement that redemption is coming, so that we can adjust the direction in which we are headed accordingly?