In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Shemot we see that the Jewish people are rapidly growing in number while in Egypt. This began to frighten and worry Pharoah, because he was afraid that the Jews would grow so large, they’d be able to start an army, a rebellion, and bust out of slavery. This worry brings up an interesting situation.
Pharaoh calls his three advisors, Bilam, Eyov, and Yisro in to help him come up with solutions for his Jewish problem. First, Bilam says that he should just kill all the Jews, and later he himself was killed. Next, Eyov simply kept quiet about the matter, and was later punished with a life of suffering. Lastly, Yisro quickly ran away and was greatly rewarded with descendants who became part of the Sanhedrin. Looking at this, we see something really weird. Bilam said all Jews should be killed, and then he himself was killed, which seems like a mida kneged mida. While that is true, suggesting murdering an entire people, G-d’s people, is insane and deserves a way worse punishment then a swift death. Then we see Eyov, who said nothing, but was punished with something far worse then death, a life full of suffering. It seems odd that Bilam, who gave a much worse suggestion, is being hardly punished, while Eyov who did nothing wrong is being harshly punished. How can this be?
We all know that life, and to be alive, is the greatest gift anyone can be given. Life itself is full of amazing opportunities and chances to advance in your relationship with G-d or to simply have fun and enjoy the gifts G-d has given us. Even if life occasionally throws us problems, like stress, homework, maybe a couple fails on tests (and of course, finals), life is still one hundred times greater than death. So, Bilam taking away so much life punished him not only with death, but also with the inability to live life and to get the amazing gifts of G-d, while Eyov still had the gift of life, even if it seemed harder.
This story relates to each and every one of us, especially in the weeks to come. Everyone is freaking out about finals, complaining about all the homework, studying, and stress they have. While I totally understand this, we should all take a moment out of our hectic weeks to thank G-d for giving us the amazing gift of living, even if it seems hard sometimes. Before we know it, all the hardships that come with finals will be over, and we’ll have no worries when winter break comes. We were all rewarded with the greatest gift possible, and for that we should be forever grateful.
Good luck on your finals everyone! Happy New Year and Shabbat shalom!!