Section: Parshas HaShavua   Category: Life Lessons
Parshas Bo: During the Looting, Why Did the Tzaddikim Make Out Like Bandits?
When it came time to donating to the mishkan it was the Nesi'im who donated the most valuable items. If all their riches came from "borrowing" from their Mitzri neighbors, why would the wealth end up in the hands of the most respected members of Klal Yisroel? On the contrary when it comes to chasing wealth one would thing the more earthly people would have done better.

The Ibn Ezra proves from this that when each member of Klal Yisroel knocked on their neighbor's door the ambitiousness of their request was on par with their own greatness. What does this mean?

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was once asked how is it that an Arab is willing to strap a bomb to his body and blow himself up for his beliefs while our Mesiras Nefesh pales in comparison. His answer was something to the effect that the Arab is driven by a Yetzer Hara that has him wrapped around his finger, while we are driven by a Yetzer Tov to whom we don't give the time of day.

This looting was not based on greed run amuck. Rather this was a commandment from Hashem. Human nature is such that when we are asked to do something by someone else, even if it is something that we ourselves greatly desire, we stop and think, why is he asking me this, why should I do it? Similarly here, even the greediest of people who would normally stop at nothing to get at their neighbor's wealth that they jealously eyed for years, once asked by Moshe to take it, suddenly did a serious Cheshbon HaNefesh. Is it fair? How much should I take? What about the Mitzri's rights? When it comes to a Mitzva people suddenly become moral and self righteous. The Tzaddikim had no such issues. Once they heard the commandment, they ran out and performed the Mitzva with all the Chumros and the most stringent Shiur, in order to be Yotzei Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin.  Through their unwavering pursuit of the mitzva, they ended up with the most riches.

Rav Chaim Zaitchek answers on a similar note. He explains that after being enslaved and downtrodden for many years, a slave mentality started developing among some of the members of Klal Yisroel. The pride and exaltedness of being from the house of Yaakov and Yosef started to dissipate from decades of being under the Egyptian whip. The Maminim however had no complexes. Even as they were beaten and tormented their heads were held high. They never felt inferior to their masters. They did their hard labor knowing full well that in reality they were princes, beloved in the eyes of the Master of the Universe, while their oppressors were nothing but beasts, and slaves themselves as descendents of Cham.

When it came time to asking for gold and silver the ones with the slave mentality had a hard time asking their masters for their wealth. At best they fulfilled the commandment with a modest request.  They simply could not muster up the courage to clean out their master's home. However, the ones who kept their faith throughout and came out with a head held high, looked the Mitzri dead in the eye and calmly and confidently demanded every last possession of value, knowing full well it was coming to him. These were the Nesi'im, giants of spirit among broken men.