The Jews who left Mitzrayim were not the crème de la crème of ruchniut.
They were not baalei emunah and bitachon.
I don't know how they were compared to us.
But the Kli Yakar in Shemot 13:17-19 mentions several times their deficiency in emunah.
They were not worthy of receiving the Torah until they crossed the Yam Suf and engaged in a journey across the desert.
Between the Exodus and crossing the Yam Suf, the Kli Yakar describes them as follows:
...they were not worthy of receiving the Torah as long as they were doubtful of the Prophecy of Moshe and in emunah in Hashem...
And they were not even ready to receive it because they were still not rooted in emunah.
They aren't rooted in emunah?
These are the people who survived the Paralyzing Darkness and formed the famed Exodus?
In other words, it's okay that they weren't perfect.
It's okay that this is as far as they could raise themselves after having sunk down into the 49th level of tumah.
In Why Did the Majority of Jews NOT Want to Leave Mitzrayim? And What Does that Mean for Us Today?, we already saw that ratzon made (and still makes) all the difference.
Hashem NEVER expects us to be perfect.
He just expects us to WANT to do the right thing. If we CAN do more, then great!
If we CAN do more, then we must.
We cannot fool Hashem by pretending that laziness or apathy is okay as long as somewhere in the murkiness of our mind, we vaguely want Hashem when we really don't, but are looking for excuses not to act.
But if we can't (or we don't know how or we try but keep failing), then really wanting to do the right thing counts for a lot.
The Kli Yakar continues:
Immediately upon becoming willing to go to the Midbar (Wilderness/Desert)—and they didn’t say, "How can we go to the Midbar, an unsown land?"—they acquired emuna.
And with this first acquisition, they were considered as if they were rooted in it [emuna].
Do you see what happened here?
They WEREN'T worthy of receiving the Torah.
He states this outright (based on Midrash and other solid sources) and makes this point several times.
But even with their shaky faith in Moshe Rabbeinu's powers of Nevuah and their own shaky belief in Hashem (!), Hashem was perfectly happy to take them on the level they were at and simply raise them up to the level they needed to be in order to become Bnei Yisrael.
This is great chizuk for our times.
Let's look at the bare facts of the situation at the time of Yetziat Mitzrayim:
- Am Yisrael was on the 49th level of tumah.
- They just experienced a tremendous loss of at least 80% of their Nation in the Plague of Paralyzing Darkness.
- They were surrounded by a loudly resentful Erev Rav who still felt an allegiance to Pharaoh and Mitzrayim (and were giving off those traitorous vibes).
- They weren't 100% sure about Moshe Rabbeinu and what he was telling them.
- They even weren't 100% sure about HaKadosh Baruch Hu!
- They were NOT ready to receive the Torah—FACT.
Yet they WANTED to do the right thing.
They wanted to leave the bad stuff.
They wanted to be redeemed.
They wanted the Geula.
And just by wanting it, by showing a willingness to go in the right direction, Hashem considered it as profound emunah, then reeled them in the rest of the way.
So this means that you can be shaky, doubting, flawed, overwhelmed, and just plain imperfect.
Yet you want Hashem?
In the thick of the action, THAT'S good enough.
Finally...you're good enough.
The Kli Yakar - Parshat Beshalach
Note: If you struggle with not feeling good enough and would like to delve into dealing with that more effectively, then Shiffy Friedman has been hosting a wonderful series based on authentic Torah sources on how to do just that.
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