For the week ending 22 January 2005 / 12 Shevat 5765

Parshat Beshalach

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Pharaoh finally sends B'nei Yisrael out of Egypt. With pillars of cloud and fire, G-d leads them toward Eretz Yisrael on a circuitous route, avoiding the Pelishtim (Philistines). Pharaoh regrets the loss of so many slaves and chases the Jews with his army. The Jews are very afraid as the Egyptians draw close, but G-d protects them. Moshe raises his staff and G-d splits the sea, enabling the Jews to cross safely. Pharaoh, his heart hardened by G-d, commands his army to pursue, whereupon the waters crash down upon the Egyptian army. Moshe and Miriam lead the men and women, respectively, in a song of thanks. After three days' travel only to find bitter waters at Marah, the people complain. Moshe miraculously produces potable water. In Marah they receive certain mitzvot. The people complain that they ate better food in Egypt. G-d sends quail for meat and provides manna, a miraculous bread that falls from the sky every day except Shabbat. On Friday a double portion descends to supply the Shabbat needs. No one is able to obtain more than his daily portion, but manna collected on Friday suffices for two days so the Jews can rest on Shabbat. Some manna is set aside as a memorial for future generations. When the Jews again complain about a lack of water, Moshe miraculously produces water from a rock. Then Amalek attacks. Joshua leads the Jews in battle while Moshe prays for their welfare.


The Essence Of Love

"G-d said to Moshe, Why do you cry out to me..? "(14:15)

No one knew G-d like Moshe. No one spoke to Him "face-to-Face" like Moshe. Why, then, did Moshe cry out to G-d when the Jewish People started to panic at the sight of Pharaoh and his hordes bearing down on them? Surely he, of all people, was confident that G-d would rescue them.

Empathy is the essence of love. Whats important to you is important to me. What concerns you, concerns me. Moshe cried out to G-d not because he had any doubt that G-d would save them, but because he loved the Jewish People so much that he couldnt bear to see them gripped by mortal fear.

  • Based on the Sfat Emet

Reasons To Be Miserable?

"G-d will fight for you and you will remain silent." (14:14)

Since 2000, anti-Semitic incidents in Germany have increased by 69%. Violent anti-Semitic crimes have jumped up nearly 100%. Similarly, Austrian monitoring agencies report that from 2002 to 2003 there was a 70% increase in anti-Semitic attacks and incidents. Of the 313 racist incidents reported in 2002 in France, 193 were directed at the Jewish community, 6 times more than in 2001.

Up until the year 2002, in Australia the annual average number of anti-Semitic incidents was 279. In 2003 there were 481 reports of anti-Semitic incidents, including a notable increase in physical violence and property damage (up 60% from 2002).

Its easy to become despondent at the state of things. Every year seems to bring yet another downward turn, whether in the growing statistics of world-wide anti-Semitism, or, nearer to home, those who try and demonize Torah Jews with rhetoric that would have made Der Sturmer proud.

We dont seem to have much going for us at the moment.

However, theres one reason that should give us great optimism.

When G-d took us out of Egypt, He was, so to speak, duty-bound to protect us against our enemies. He led us out into a trackless wilderness. At that time, as it were, He was "obliged" to hear our pleas.

"G-d will fight for you and you will remain silent."

Its not just when we have the right to petition that G-d will fight our enemies. Even when we have nothing to claim in our defense, when the Jewish People are very far from being able to maintain that they should be saved; when all we can do is to "remain silent" with nothing to say in our defense, even then will G-d save us from our enemies.

  • Based on The Meshech Chochma

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