Kenneth Cohen

Too Busy to Think

There is a great deal to be learned from Pharoah’s initial refusal to let the people go. He is so annoyed with the request, that they now have to gather their own straw to make brings.

The evil king of Egypt makes a very valid assumption about human nature. He realizes that the desire of his slaves to leave Egypt and become free men, is because they have too much free time. They are using this time, to dream of their freedom and establishment of a Jewish nation in Israel.

His solution to the problem is to keep his slaves too busy to think. If they have to work harder, and longer hours, they will be too exhausted to think, and their longing for freedom will vanish.

The Ramchal points out that there are many people that put themselves in a self imposed type of slavery. They fill their days with so much activity, that they literally have no time to think.

Because they never stop to pause and evaluate themselves, they fall spiritually. Their religious observance is mechanical and stagnant. There is no growth, and probably, not much joy in their lives.

Every Jew must take out the time every day, to do some serious self awareness. He must ask himself about his relationship with G-d. Is he working on his Midot, character traits? Is he recognizing and giving thanks for Hashem’s abundant blessings? Is he conscious of the need to try to be a better husband, father, or friend? Is he guilty of taking for granted, those that he truly loves?

If he will not stop and make such checks, it will not be good for him. This could lead to unfixable mistakes.

We cannot impose on ourselves, what Pharoah cleverly did to our ancestors. We must slow down a bit and focus on our dreams. If we do not, we will have only ourselves to blame for not reaching our goals.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at