The Jewish Eye
Parshas Beshalach (BiShalach)
A Wasted 210 Years
Imagine you own a stock brokerage firm. Cleaning your offices is a janitor who every now and then sticks his nose into your business and makes a comment about a stock which of course you ignore. After all he is only the janitor. One day he quits and as he leaves he tells you that he happened to be a top Wall Street analyst before some unfortunate turn of events destroyed his life and caused him to accept working as a janitor. Now things turned around and he was hired by top firm to head their brokerage department. You'd probably kill yourself for being so blind.
The gemara says that the word "VaYehi" sometimes has a connotation of a very painful event. I once heard that this is pshat in the pasuk "VaYehi BiShalach Paroh Es HaAm". The Medrash says that Bnei Yisroel left Mitzrayim in the formation of the Degalim that they traveled in the Midbar. Paroh always viewed them as "good for nothing" slaves. Upon seeing this incredible organization and understanding that these were not ordinary slaves rather son's of nobility, he experienced a moment of intense pain and regret. How could it be that he had this amazing talent under his control for so long and he didn't take advantage of it? He could have moved Mitzrayim fast forward in time with their talents and innovation. Yet he was too busy pushing them down to realize what he had.
This is a lesson to open up your eyes and see the best in people while you still have a chance. Once it is too late they may never come back again.
Vilna Gaon - In The Zechus Of Jumping Into The Sea
‘Vayavoyu Bnei Yisroel B'Soch HaYom BaYabashah VihaMayim LaHem Chomah MiMinam U'Mismolam." (14,22). "U'Vnei Yisroel Halchu BaYabashah B'Soch HaYom VihaMayim LaHem Chomah MiMinam U'Mismolam." (14,29) "The Children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea; the water was a wall for them, on their right and on their left." In Pasuk 22 the Torah writes first B'Soch HaYom - the Jews went in to the sea, then afterwards BaYabashah - on to the dry land. As opposed to pasuk 29 where it says first BaYabashah - on the dry land and then B'Soch HaYom - in to the sea? Secondly, why is the word "Chomah" - a wall - written in pasuk 22 with a "Vav"; however in Pasuk 29 it is written without a "Vav"?
The Vilna Gaon answers, when the Jews were standing trapped between the Egyptians and the sea, The Malachim complained to Hashem saying, ‘Why are these Jews worthy of being saved? - "Hallalu Ovdai Avodah Zarah ViHallalu Ovdai Avodah Zarah" - both the Jews and the Mitzrim worshipped idols. Why should the Jews merit in destroying the Egyptians? They are just standing at the sea waiting for a miracle to happen! Hashem answered, "Look, there are Jews who have such great Emunah that they are jumping in to the sea even before it was split." - Referring to Nachshon Ben Aminadav and the rest of Shevet Yehudah who followed him.
In Pasuk 22 it says, B'Soch HaYom BaYabashah - referring to Nachshon and Shevet Yehudah who went in to the Yam, before it split, with tremendous Bitachon and then it became Yabasha - dry land. In that Pasuk Chomah is written with a ‘Vav" - the water was a wall for them because of their Bitachon. However, in Pasuk 29 it says, BaYabashah B'Soch HaYom - referring to the Jews who waited till it was dry before entering the sea. Concerning those people who lacked the Emunah the pasuk continues ‘VihaMayim LaHem Chaymmah" - without a "Vav' it spells Chaymah -anger. The waters were upset at these Jews because they were no better than the Egyptians. "Hallalu Ovdai Avodah Zarah ViHallalu Ovdai Avodah Zarah"
Keeping Micha Out of Az Yashir
"Mi Chamocha BaAylim Hashem Mi Kamocha Nedar BaKdesh" The words "Mi Chaamocha" are written twice in the pasuk. Why is the first written with a "Chaf" - "Mi Chamocha" and the 2nd with a "Kaf" - ‘Mi Kamocha"?
The Rosh answers, since the 2nd time that it is written, it is preceded by the word Hashem. If the Torah would have written, "Mi Chamocha' - it would have read, "Hashem Micha ". Since Micha was the person who made the famous "Pesel Michah" - an Avodah Zarah - the Torah did not want to write Hashem's name in association with him. The pasuk therefore switched the Chaf to a Kaf - now reading, ‘Hashem Mi Kamocha".
We Are One, With or Without A Common Cause
"And the Jews picked up their eyes and they saw the Mitzriyim traveling after them". Rashi points out; the word "traveling" in the pasuk is written in the singular ("Nosaya" not "Nosim").This is to teach us that the Mitzriyim had unity against Klal Yisroel - "BiLev Echad K'Ish Echad" - "With 1 heart like 1 person". Rashi makes a similar comment in Parshas Yisro. When Klal Yisroel came to Har Sinai, the pasuk says, "VaYichan Sham Yisroel Neged HaHar" - "And the Jews camped near the mountain". "VaYichan" is in the singular - "And he camped" - although it is referring to all of Klal Yisroel. Rashi says that this is to teach us the unity that Klal Yisroel had. They were, "K'Ish Echad BiLev Echad"- "like 1 person with 1 heart".
Rav Hutner takes note of the different wording which Rashi uses in each instance. In Parshas Beshalach, when referring to the Mitzriyim, Rashi says, "BiLev Echad K'Ish Echad" - Lev first then Ish. As opposed to Parshas Yisro, when he is referring to the Jews, Rashi says, "K'Ish Echad BiLev Echad" - placing Ish before Lev?
Rav Hutner answers; The Egyptians (and all Goyim for that matter) do not have unity. What brings them together is a common cause. In this instance, the common cause was their hatred for Klal Yisroel. That is why Rashi said, "BiLev Echad K'Ish Echad". They were "BiLev Echad" - with 1 cause, and therefore "K'Ish Echad" with unity like 1 person. However Klal Yisroel is different. They are compared to a human body. Does the left hand have a different opinion than the right? Of course not! All parts of 1 body work together. They are 1 unit. So too is Klal Yisroel 1 unit by definition. That is why Rashi says, ""K'Ish Echad BiLev Echad"- They are by definition K'Ish Echad - 1 unit. Our"BiLev Echad"- common cause- is only a secondary factor. Even without a common cause we are united.
How Could The Rambam Live in Mitzrayim?
"Lo Sosifu Lirosom Ad Olam" "You will not see the Egyptians again" The Monai HaMitzvos count 3 Issurim which one transgresses if he lives in Mitzrayim. One Lav is this pasuk - "You will not see the Egyptians again". The other 2 are in Sefer Devarim. The Rambam counts this as one of the Lavim in the Torah. As he says, Negative Mitzvah 46: "You may never settle permanently in Egypt again. We are forbidden to return to Egypt in order to settle there. After freeing us from slavery in Egypt, HaShem prohibited us from ever permanently living there again. However, it is permissible to return to Egypt for business or trade."
The question arises, how was the Rambam himself allowed to live in Egypt and transgress the negative commandment which he himself lists?
Some answer, the Issur of living in Mitzrayim is only if one travels there following the same route that the Jews used when leaving Mitzrayim; As the pasuk says, Devarim 17:16 - "You shall never again return that way". However, just to live there is not Assur. Others answer that the Rambam was an Anus, forced to live there. He had no choice, since he was the Dr. of the Sultan.
In Sefer Kaftor VaFerach, it is written, the Rambam used to sign his letters - "Moshe Ben Maimon, the one who transgresses 3 Lavim everyday"!
The Netziv - When You Are Down To Your Last Crumb
After Krias Yam Suf the Bnei Yisroel arrived in Mara and had no water to drink because the water there was bitter. Hashem told Moshe to throw in a bitter tree and the water became sweet. After this incident the pasuk recaps and says "Sham Sam Lo Chok UMishpat VSham Nisahu"; in Mara Hashem gave them mitzvos and tested them. Why was it so important to test them?
The Netziv explains that the Torah is teaching us a valuable lesson for all generations about Bitachon and earning a living. Sometimes a person's finances come down to the last penny and it looks like he will have nothing to eat. The future looks bleak and there is no help in sight. Even then a person must be confident in Hashem that he will provide a way to support him. Hashem is "Kol Yachol" and His salvation can be provided from the most unexpected sources. Just like the bitter tree was the least expected solution to cure bitter water so too Hashem can bring your fortune from what appears to be the exact opposite, so don't ever lose hope. Hang tough, it is all just a test!
Rav Elyashiv - The Ultimate Tour Guide, Atzmos Yosef
The pasuk says that Moshe took Atzmos Yosef, the bones of Yosef with him. Why does it say this in Parshas Beshalach after they left Mitzrayim? Shouldn't it say it in Parshas Bo while they were getting ready to leave?
Rav Elyashiv in Divrei Agaddah says that in Bishalach the pasuk says that Hashem could have brought them to Eretz Yisroel in just a few days but didn't want to. The Medrash says that had they come to Eretz Yisroel straight from Mitzrayim they would have quickly involved themselves in planting and building and would never have absorbed the lessons of the Torah properly. They needed the time in the Midbar to grow spiritually. The Midbar was their "Yeshiva". They ate Mun, drank from the Be'er and absorbed Torah into their bones. The problem with the Midbar was that it was a dangerous place and took strong willed people to endure this climate that was as harsh on the spirit as it was on the body; wandering aimlessly for so long without a home. So close to Eretz Yisroel yet so far away. In an environment like this one could lose hope and everything gained will be lost.
The Atzmos Yosef says Rav Elyashiv provided them with a guiding light. Yosef himself suffered in his own "Midbar" for so long. Sold into slavery and thrown into jail (more correctly a dungeon) on false charges. Yet Chazal tell us that Yosef prevailed. His spirit did not waver for a moment although he was the ultimate "lost" soul without hope. Through all this he held steadfast to mitzvos and overcame every temptation.
When one goes through a spiritual Midbar says the torah, do not forget to take a good guide with you. The best one available is Atzmos Yosef.
Back to top
A Different Kind of News
Questions or Comments? Send an email to:
Copyright © The Jewish Eye 2008 All Rights Reserved