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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Beshalach

Parashat Beshalah

Doing for Redemption

2909
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The children of Israel are trapped between the sea that lies in front of them and the Egyptians that are pursuing them from behind, and they call out to God to save them. Several verses later, God says to Moshe, "Why are you praying to me, speak to the children of Israel, and tell them to move forward." Rashi is perplexed by God’s response to Moshe, for we were not told that Moshe had been praying to God. Rashi explains that Moshe was in fact engaged in prayer, and God’s answer was, "Now is not the time for lengthy prayer, now is the time to move forward." Evidently, there is a time for prayer and a time for action. But how does one know how and when to choose between these two alternatives?

In his seminal work, Eim Habanim Semeicha (written and published in 1943, in Budapest), Rabbi Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal deals with the unbelievable tragedy unfolding in Europe, but moves forward to a prophetic analysis of the Jewish people after the Holocaust, rebuilding their future in the Holy Land of Israel. On page 471 (of the English edition), he deals with the subject of "faith without action," and relates to the question posed above regarding this week's parasha. He quotes the Rambam who states that, "every belief needs an action to strengthen it." Thus, he concludes, God was saying to Moshe, "Move onward toward the sea and show Me the unfailing belief in God who will perform a miracle, as was done in previous trying moments."

Rav Teichtal continues by applying this rule to the belief in the coming of the Mashiach. "A person waiting for the Mashiach to come and transport him to Eretz Yisrael indicates a lack of total faith in the Mashiach."

The message is clear: Now is the time for action.

Yaakov Zev , Jerusalem

Rabbi Zev, his wife, Chany, and four young children fulfilled the mitzvah of aliya in July 1969, after 10 years of service at Yeshiva University . After aliya, he was the Director of the Yeshiva and Judaic Studies Department of the Ministry of Absorption, and is now retired after serving as the Director of the Pincus Fund.

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