By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
Kli Yakar has a commentary in this week’s parashah, Va’eira, that goes through each one of the makkos and points out how we see middah k’neged middah in it. The makkah of Blood (Dam) was appropriate because Pharaoh had decreed for the Jewish baby boys to be thrown into the water. For Tzefardea, the frogs gave up their lives to serve Hashem, unlike the Egyptians who denied Hashem’s existence and said they don’t know Him. The lice in Kinim came because the dirt where the Jews were forced to work caused them to be covered in sweat and lice, so that dirt was used to create lice for the Egyptians. Arov was brought upon the Egyptians because they mistreated the Jews, who are compared to animals. The Kli Yakar continues to give examples of how each makkah was middah k’negged middah in this vein.
The Alter of Novardhok explains that middah k’negged middah refers to neither reward nor punishment. Reward and punishment are saved for the World to Come, but middah k’neged middah refers to cause and effect. The same way there are natural rules in the world–for example, jumping from great heights can cause death, putting on a coat can keep you warm, eating food makes you feel full, etc.–so too there is a consequence and cause and effect called middah k’neged middah.
Middah k’neged middah means that when we act a certain way, we cause Hashem to act towards us accordingly. This concept exists as well with interpersonal relationships. Shlomo HaMelech tells us that in the way water reflects a mirror image, one person’s heart is able to reflect the heart of another. This means that when we act in a certain manner towards our spouses, we usually cause a reaction that mirrors the way we act. Keeping this in mind can help us to be more careful about how we approach our interactions with our spouses. May all our actions be ones we would desire to have reflected for our benefit. v
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