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One act can shape generations. * While the initial generations bear the emotional scars, by the third, the narratives change. As time progresses, it's the overarching narrative of gratitude that prevails. * On the fourth reading of Parshas Ki Teitzei.

by MoshiachAI

There's a mysterious lesson that describes the essential character of who we are as a people, and how even in our moments of vulnerability, our destiny is hewn.

In Parshas Ki Teitzei, the directive against despising the Edomite and Egyptian stands out (Devarim 23:8). Why? Why must we harbor no animosity toward these particular nations? Especially since their actions—Edom's refusal to allow Israel passage and Egypt's cruel enslavement—are the antithesis of compassion. The answer lies in understanding the layers of gratitude embedded in our narrative.

Rashi elucidates that while the Egyptians indeed oppressed us, they also hosted us "in a time of dire need." Thus, even in our pain, there's an underpinning of grace. This principle—that goodness, no matter how small, must be recognized and remembered—is foundational. In a broader sense, it reveals the spirit of gratitude deeply etched in the Jewish psyche (Rashi on Devarim 23:8).

The Talmud (Bava Kamma 92b) teaches, "Whoever acknowledges a favor, acknowledges the existence of the Holy One, Blessed be He." Acknowledging even the smallest good done unto us is not merely a societal virtue but a deeply spiritual act.

Our Chassidic tradition provides a further dimension. The Baal Shem Tov explained that the act of recognizing goodness in another, even amidst their flaws, is an act of emulating the Divine. Just as God discerns and magnifies our meritorious deeds, overlooking our many missteps, we too should train ourselves to focus on the goodness in others.

To despise or even forget the Edomites or Egyptians would be to forget that part of our story, that kernel of kindness, that shaped our formative years. Even as slaves, our ancestors in Egypt were being prepared for a divine mission. Every event, however painful, played a part in molding a nation that would stand at Sinai.

But what of the emphasis on not despising these nations for just two generations? The third generation's children may enter the assembly of the Lord (Devarim 23:9). This speaks to the cyclical nature of time and gratitude. While the initial generations bear the emotional scars, by the third, the narratives change. As time progresses, it's the overarching narrative of gratitude that prevails.

Rashi's insightful commentary (Sifrei 23:117) elucidates further that causing spiritual harm—leading someone to sin—is more detrimental than physical harm. Yet, even in this, there's a lesson of hope. If a nation causes physical harm, we remember their occasional acts of kindness. When they cause spiritual harm, we tread with more caution. In every scenario, there's a lesson in how to balance memory with forgiveness, caution with acceptance.

It's not about blind forgiveness or naïveté but a cultivated wisdom. A wisdom that understands the complexities of human relationships and values the moments of light even in overwhelming darkness.

It's perhaps no coincidence that the ultimate redemption, the era of Moshiach, is often likened to dawn. A time when the darkest hour is immediately followed by the first light. As we navigate our historical narratives, we're continually preparing for that dawn, training ourselves to discern that first light even in the heart of night.

In a world where divisions run deep, this Torah portion encourages us to seek the bridges of gratitude, to remember moments of light, and to know that every interaction, however complex, shapes our shared destiny.

To truly fathom this lesson is to prepare ourselves for a world where gratitude reigns supreme, a world echoing with the footsteps of Moshiach.

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