12 Shvat 5781 / Monday, January 25, 2021 | Torah Reading: Beshalah
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In the Hands of G-d    

In the Hands of G-d

The Torah teaches us that the heart of every world leader is in G-d's hands. Only He decides who will rule, what they will do, and what they will not do...


"And Avram said to the King of Sodom, 'I lift up my hand to God Most High, the Maker of Heaven and Earth'." (Genesis / Bereishis 14:22) 

A story is told of the Holy Rebbe Yisrael of Ruzhin, ZT”L, that someone made a false accusation against him to Czar Nicolas I of Russia claiming that the Rebbe sought to rebel against the Empire, as evidenced by the way the Rebbe conducted himself in royal fashion. 

The Czar sent a spy to Ruzhin to determine if the claim was true. The spy disguised himself as a wealthy Jew who was going to purchase a forest, seeking the Rebbe's advice and blessing for the venture. In the course of conversation with the Rebbe, the spy spoke negatively of the Czar, branding him as an anti-Semite who sought to harm the Jewish community with all types of wicked decrees. He thus tried to incite the Rebbe to curse the Czar. 

The Holy Ruzhiner recounted a true story to support this idea: A Jewish innkeeper hired a young gentile to work at the inn. The Jew and his family always treated the boy with great kindness and respect. When the boy grew up, he decided to move on and build a house of his own. The Jew wished him well and gave him generous parting gifts, including a tidy sum of money toward the construction of his new home. The young man departed with much gratitude to the Jews who had treated him so well. 

About forty years passed, and one day a group of Jews from a Polish province (as in those days Poland was not yet a united country) came to the inn and told the owner that their king had expelled them from their country. They told the innkeeper that their king was none other than the gentile boy who had worked at the inn so many years before. They begged the innkeeper to intercede with the king on their behalf to nullify the expulsion decree. 

The Jew went immediately to the king who was very happy to see him and greeted him with much honor. They reminisced about the old days when the king had grown up at the Jew's inn. 

The innkeeper then inquired about the expulsion of the Jews from his province and expressed his dismay that the king who had been raised so nicely by Jews could turn to hate them. The king responded that, in truth, he loved the Jews tremendously, having benefited from their kindness for many years and seeing their honest conduct in all matters. However, suddenly, as if from Heaven, this decree entered his heart. When he tried to ignore the impulse, he saw in a dream that angels from heaven were decreeing that he should expel the Jews and he understood this was indeed the Will of Heaven. 

When the Holy Ruzhiner finished his account, the spy revealed his true identity and the nature of his mission. He said he now realized that the Jews humble themselves in exile under every king wherever they live, because they believe all is from Heaven and would never dream to rebel against any government. 

This fundamental lesson, that Hashem controls the hearts and minds of kings and leaders, traces its origins to the story of the Bnei Yisrael subjugated to Pharaoh in Egypt. Originally, the Jews gained favor and influence under Yosef HaTzaddik's leadership as viceroy. In time, however, Hashem turned the hearts of Pharaoh and his servants against the Jews, as it is written “their hearts were turned to hate His People” (Psalms / Tehillim 105: 25). Only after they called out in prayer to Hashem did Hashem turn Pharaoh's heart to free them. 

Furthermore, Hashem caused the Exodus to come specifically through Moshe Rabbenu, a shepherd with little political experience. He had spent decades in Midian and possessed no current knowledge of the Egyptian government. Additionally, Moshe had a speech impediment. No one could claim he succeeded because he was a smooth diplomat. Clearly, all of the events of Bnei Yisrael’s slavery to, and redemption from, Pharaoh in Egypt were orchestrated by the hand of Hashem. 

Similarly, when King Achashverosh agreed to Haman’s decree to kill all of the Jews in his kingdom, Queen Esther beseeched the king to spare them, but before doing so, she asked all of the Jews to gather in prayer. Our main political effort must always be in prayer to Hashem, while any lobbying efforts merely fulfill our obligation to exert some natural effort. It was through the merit of prayer that Hashem turned the heart of Achashverosh to benefit the Jewish people. 

Perhaps, this too is the meaning of Avraham Avinu’s response to the king of Sodom. With the help of Hashem, Avraham had defeated the kings who had captured Sodom. He gained tremendous respect from everyone, to the point that the refugee king of Sodom asked Avraham to make a deal, “Give me the souls,” give me the people of Sodom and ask them to reappoint me as their king. In this merit, “the spoils you may take for yourself”. You can always enjoy material benefits from me as I will remain a wealthy king. 

Avraham used that fateful moment to publicize and strengthen faith in Hashem: "I lift my hands to Most High God, maker of Heaven and Earth." I always raise my hands in prayer to Hashem, Ruler of all creation, so that’s what I am also going to do if I will need a favor from you, and Hashem can get me this favor, even if I will not make this deal with you. For in the final analysis, everything depends on prayer to Hashem. 

As we face the political challenges of our own times, let us always remember that indeed, the hearts of kings and princes are in His Hands, and He controls all destinies. 



The Kalever Rebbe is the seventh Rebbe of the Kaalov Chasidic dynasty, begun by his ancestor who was born to his previously childless parents after receiving a blessing from the Baal Shem Tov zy”a, and later learned under the Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l. The Rebbe has been involved in outreach for more than 30 years, and writes weekly emails on understanding current issues through the Torah. You can sign up at www.kaalov.org. 


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