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There Are Some Things Even God Cannot Do!

Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16 )

by Rabbi Stephen Baars

Anyone with a basic grasp of Jewish theology understands that God doesn't say please.

It's not that God doesn't have manners, or that He's like one of those Wall Street Banks - too big to fail and not get His way. It's simply because please really means something. It means that what I am asking, is for me. "Please do this, because it benefits me."

God doesn't say please because there is nothing in anything He asks, that is for Him. He doesn't need you to pray, He isn't lonely. He doesn't need you to keep kosher, He doesn't have it in for chickens and cows, however pigs and lobsters are His friends. No, everything God asks us to do, is because it's good for us. He doesn't say please because of all the commandments placed upon mankind, all are for our good. When you give good things to people, you don't need to say please to get them to take it.

Therefore it's a bit of a shocker when we read:

"Please speak discreetly to the Jewish people, that each should ask their neighbor for their silver and gold." (Exodus 11:2)

This is God speaking, so why please?

The answer is what we technically call in the theological world, a space/time pickle.

Back in Genesis 15:14, God promises Abraham that his descendents will leave Egypt with great wealth, so now that the Jewish people are finally leaving Egypt, God has this one item left on His to-do list (See Exodus 11:2 Rashi).

"Simple" you say. We are talking about the Creator of everything including day time television. "Should be no problem" you say. Even without a Las Vegas lottery, how difficult can it be to make everyone rich?

Very difficult. So difficult God has to ask nicely, "Please."

Why? Because the Jews might say "no." The Jews didn't want to ask, they felt it was reparations for all the misery the Egyptians had inflicted and they wanted none of the Egyptian "blood money."

And if the Jews refused, then God (so to speak) is up a universal creek without an eternal paddle.

How embarrassing.

So surely God has to have a plan B? Couldn't He change a few of those laws of nature and make it rain gold coins for a couple of days? Isn't that what He did with the Manna from heaven in the desert, except the Manna was food?

To be honest with you, it wouldn't bother me much, especially if it rained that way in my back yard, just this once - I won't tell, promise.

However, from the fact that God said please, it must mean, He didn't have any other options. Why?

Because there are some things, even God cannot do.

Like what?

Make you rich.

When I was growing up in England they had a saying about being rich. There are two ways, earn it, or the old fashioned way, inherit it.

The reality is, there is only one way. Earn it.

True, you can have money, but that is not rich. Rich is not a factor of any bank account, it's a factor of how you got that bank account.

Wealth, as opposed to Money, doesn't pass through the placenta.

If you have ever met people who inherited or won a lot of money, and if you have met people who have the same amount of money, but earned it - then you will realize, they are not the same people.

"Who is rich? The one who is satisfied with his lot" Ben Zoma, Perkey Avos 4:1

That means you have to be satisfied, if you aren't, you aren't rich - even if you have all the money. People who don't "earn" their money are not satisfied.

For parents, this is a bigger problem then you might imagine. My father grew up in a home that did not have an indoor toilet. Do you think I appreciate indoor plumbing?

I will answer that one, "No." Unfortunately, I take it for granted.

I grew up in a home that did not have central heat, do you think my children wake up thanking God Almighty for the thermostat?

If you are a parent, you are almost certainly raising your children in a standard of living you did not have growing up - and therefore they (your children) will never enjoy.

If you think you are making life easier for your children by making life easier, you are immanently mistaken. You are not better than God, you cannot make your children rich.

God cannot make the Jews of Egypt rich, they have to do something to earn it.

If you are working hard to give your children a better life, you are most certainly failing. But, if you are working to give yourself a better life, you will. That's the most you can do for yourself, and if your children imitate you, then by that means, you will have succeeded in giving them a better life too.

* * *


Question 1: Of all your things, both physical and spiritual, what do you most want your children to inherit?

Question 2: Of all the things you got from your parents, what are the most valuable, and how did you get them?

Question 3: What things, that are in neither of these lists, would you like your children to have?

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