- Pharoah told the people of Egypt that they need to figure out a 'wise' way to deal with their Jewish problem. Rashi explains that the 'wise' way that Pharoah was looking for was a way that Hashem would not be able to get back at them.
- The solution that they came up with was to drown all of the newborn boys. If they did this then Hashem wouldn't be able to punish them because Hashem had already made a promise to not bring a flood upon the world. Pharoah and his advisers understood this promise to include not killing out an entire nation by means of water.
- Rashi explains that the Egyptians mistake was that Hashem only promised not to destroy the entire world by way of water, not just one nation.
Clearly, Pharoah and his advisers were afraid of Hashem, and they understood that Hashem would be able to punish them for starting up with the Jewish people. If the Egyptians would set out on a mission to kill the Jewish people, even if Hashem couldn't mete out justice by way of water- Hashem would presumably get back at them in a different way. It therefore begs the question:
- Why weren't Pharoah and the Egyptians afraid of getting punished in a different manner?
The Egyptians understood that Hashem is the G-d of truth. Therefore, they understood that Hashem would only mete out justice 'measure for measure,' otherwise known as 'middah k'neged middah.' If Hashem could not punish them in exact accordance with their crime, they were fully confident that Hashem would not punish them.
The desire for justice is an outcome of the character trait of honesty. There is another very similar looking drive that people have and that is the desire for revenge. A good litmus test with ourselves is to see if we are being fair and measured or are we feeling like we must get back at the other guy because he did something wrong.
It is important to keep in mind that if one's actions are not in line with the truth, then he has no basis to be carrying out justice at all. A lack of justice is untruthful. Sometimes the lack of justice is due to not executing justice at all and at other times it is due to going too far and being vengeful. The common denominator is that they are both dishonest and therefore unjust.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos!
Rabbi Eli Meir Kramer