Daf Yomi Yevamos 23
Following the victory of Deborah and Barak against Sisera, the Children of Israel enjoyed peace and tranquility in the Land for forty years. But as time wore on, we forgot the debt of gratitude we owed the Almighty and began to forsake His ways. G-d delivered us into the hand of Midian and for the next seven years, they ruled over Israel.
One day, an angel appeared to a young man called Gideon, who was threshing wheat at the winepress, to hide it from the Midianite rulers, for fear of it being seized.
The angel said to Gideon, “G-d is with you, O mighty hero!” Gideon stared blankly back at the angel, not sure to whom he was referring.
“I beg of You, my Lord, with what shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is the most impoverished of Manasseh, and I am the youngest of my father’s house.”
Rabbi Pappa taught: Marriage takes effect even when one betroths a forbidden woman, as the Torah states, “When a man shall have two wives, one favoured and one despised.” Now, does G-d favour anyone or despise anyone? Rather, favoured means favoured in terms of marriageability; and despised means despised in terms of marriageability. And the Torah states, “When he shall have . . .”
Rashi explains that the Torah here proceeds to instruct us that if his firstborn child came from the despised wife, he may not transfer the rights of the firstborn to his child from the favoured wife. Now, that is obvious – the Torah need not teach us that a person may not break the Law due to his own passions. Clearly, favoured and despised cannot refer to the emotions felt by the husband and so therefore the Torah must be referring to G-d. And since G-d does not despise anyone for who they are, Rabbi Pappa explains that it must refer to the fact that the marriage was legally forbidden and therefore despicable in the eyes of G-d.
Sometimes we think that G-d has favourites. You might look around you and see everyone else’s success and wonder why the Almighty has forgotten about you. You might think you’re not worthy of G-d’s love, because of the family you come from, the place you come from, your poor education, the bad decisions you’ve made in life.
Those were the same thoughts going through Gideon’s mind when the angel appeared to him. He felt he was a nobody. Why would G-d choose him to redeem the Children of Israel?
But the Almighty has no favourites! He despises no man! He loves you with an affection that is way beyond anything you can imagine in this physical world. He has great plans for you. Who knows, you might even be the redeemer of Israel!
It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter who your family is. Maybe your own parents had favourites and you were labelled the black sheep. G-d doesn’t listen to such nonsense. He loves you unconditionally. He sees past your past.
Gideon turned to G-d and said, ‘I’m no mighty warrior, you must be confusing me with someone else!’ And G-d replies, ‘Oh yes you are. I have already seen what you have yet to see!’ For the Almighty who is above time, the way He sees you is as the mighty warrior having already fulfilled your future potential!