Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Beshalach
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Shvat 11 5779
Is Hashem kind, or cruel? Think about this for a moment: Bnei Yisrael endured more than a century of slavery & degradation. We suffered every possible humiliation. And then our prayers were finally answered; we witnessed the10 Plagues decimate Mitzrayim, & we were
liberated, with hand raised high, leaving Egypt & all its troubles behind. And then, just as we thought we were in the clear, comes the fearsome sound of Paro’s cavalry & chariots en route to wipe us out. Was this G-d’s plan all along? Why tease us with seeming freedom, only to whisk it all away & drown our hopes & dreams. How could He do this to us?

The answer is in the first 5 words of our Sedra: "Va’y’hi B’Shalach Paro Et Ha’am – And it was when Paro sent out the Jewish nation….." Huh? Are you kidding?! Paro sent Bnei Yisrael on their way? Paro is the one who gets the credit?! When the Almighty hears the Jews say these words, He reacts fiercely: "Looks like My People need another, compelling demonstration that it is not Paro, but the hand of Hashem that protects & saves Am Yisrael."

And that lesson, of course, is the Splitting of the Sea, after which the nation does indeed finally get the message: "Vaya’aminu B’Hashem u’v’Moshe Avdo."’

I suggest that Hashem was not reacting with anger – although the Torah does record in numerous other places that G-d certainly can & does have a temper (where do you think we get ours from?!). No, I think Hashem is trying to cement into our psyches, for all time, the truism that our help, our strength, our salvation comes from one source & one source alone: Shamayim.

Yes, there are clearly times when it appears that the Jewish People are being aided or even rescued by actors of flesh & blood. These people & nations must surely be profusely thanked; we must show our sincere Hakarat HaTov for all they do for us. But at the same time, we must not forget that Harbay Shluchim L’Makom, Hashem appoints many messengers to carry out His will, in the guise of natural events & mortal human beings. They, indeed, are the actors; but Hashem bi’Kvodo u’v’Atzmo is the producer & director.

Perhaps that is why this most famous & stunning of miracles – K’riat Yam Suf – is specifically chosen to deliver this powerful message. The sea is unique, in that its essence is hidden. When you look out at the ocean, you have no idea how deep it is; its depth is concealed beneath the waves. Only when you "dive in" do you have an idea just how mighty & magnificent the sea really is.

This lesson must never be lost on us, particularly in Israel. Yes, we have great, smart people & brave IDF soldiers who guide & protect us. But the REAL power lies beneath the surface; we must never, ever fail to SEA that!
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