Barad and The Human Experience
In the seventh aliyah, comes the seventh makkah of barad where God unleashes utter destruction on man, animal and vegetation, matched only by creation in the inverse that was completed on the seventh day. Were there any saving graces to this makkah? There were two. First, the water and fire that made up the barad made shalom with each other in order to carry out God’s will, so that the fire miraculously remained lit inside the water. Second, the unripened wheat and spelt withstood the blows to the land because they were soft and flexible. Are there greater messages contained within these anomalies of nature?
With a thought from my late relative, Rav Avrohom Genechovsky, zt”l, previous rosh yeshiva of Tchebin, I believe we can shed light on the messages of barad.
He said that man should model his character based on the makeup of the world. On the outside one should be malleable and flexible like water that covers a majority of the surface of earth. Our center should be guided by fire, the Torah, just as the center of earth is composed of fire, and on the inside, we should be rock-solid in our faith, just as the inner core of the earth is rock.
We can now internalize the message of barad. Barad informs that water and fire can coexist in harmony when the goal is to serve God. We too can fuse together the water of flexibility and fire of Torah in ourselves. And if we act like water on the outside then we will be like the unripened wheat and spelt, which is not struck down by others as we flexibly adapt.
If you look at man's makeup, it also hints to how we should behave. We are majority water, with a continual flow of energy supported by solid bones. We have to be water-like and flexible, energized wholly by the Torah and ironlike in our beliefs.
The seventh sefira of Malchut represents the seventh day of creation. This is when God reigned supreme and his Shecinah and Hashgachah Pratit came to the world. The seventh makkah in Mitzraim of barad was also a representation of Malchut only in a reversal of fortune. But this reversal of fortune came through miracles that upended the nation of Egypt. This why we say zecher l'yetziat Mitzrayim in kiddush. As my great-great-grandfather, Rabbi Levine, zt"l, noted, mankind was not present to see creation, but we did see the makkot which proved that only such a God who can bring such miraculous smiting can create the world.
However, even within the miraculous smiting of barad, a silver lining could be found in the bright aqueous hail and unripened wheat and spelt. This silver lining conveyed that we have the ability to bring shalom to our body and withstand all hardships if we choose to serve G-d justly.