Parashah, we also see the first occasion of many, in which
B'nei Yisrael shows a complete lack of faith in Hashem and
complains of circumstances figuring that God has done
something with no plan in mind leaving the people at the
mercy of the elements or their enemies.
There is a lesson contained in this.
As well, there are some strong indications of how not
to behave. In
reading this Parashah, I sometimes wonder what it was the
God saw in those people.
If we are just looking at that generation, this would
be a very good question indeed.
To understand Klal Yisrael (the Nation of Israel),
however, we must look at all of history and what is still to
this is the way Hashem views His history.
If He didn't, we would have to ask what He saw in
We pick up
with Perek Yud-Daled (Chapter 14), pasuk yud (verse 10).
At this point, the people have been traveling away
from Paro (Pharaoh) and Mitzrayim minding their own business
when Paro decides to seek revenge for all those curses that
led to his kicking them out of Mitzrayim.
Paro approached; B'nei Yisrael raised their eyes and behold!
-- Mitzrayim was journeying after them, and they were very
frightened; B'nei Yisrael cried out to Hashem:
They said to Moshe, "Were there no graves in Mitzrayim
that you took us to die in the Wilderness? What is this that
you have done to us to take us out of Mitzrayim?:
Is this not the statement that we made to you in Mitzrayim,
saying, 'Let us be and we will serve Mitzrayim'? -- for it
is better that we should serve Mitzrayim than that we should
die in the Wilderness!":
Moshe said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand fast and
see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform for you
today; for as you have seen Mitzrayim today, you shall not
see them ever again:
getting into the commentaries which present a completely
different idea, I would like to point out something which
many of you might find a little humorous.
When we communicate, it is not uncommon to have
exceedingly long explanations or questions when a
parsimonious two or three words would do nicely. For
example, the words that are said in perek yud-aleph (verse
11) could be said with, "We left so that we could be
is Jewish communication, it is, " Were there no graves
in Mitzrayim that you took us to die in the Wilderness? What
is this that you have done to us to take us out of Mitzrayim?"
Thus, if you wonder where Jewish trends in speech
come from, it all seems to have started a long time ago.
Raphael Hirsch comments to yud-aleph as follows:
(B'nei Yisrael) were doubtful with regard to Moshe's
their position, and from their standpoint, a very
understandable doubt. How
could they, how dared they, just quietly assume that God
would help them in such an extraordinarily miraculous
manner, for which there was absolutely no precedent, and
which was so completely against all natural expectation.
These continuous doubts form an important proof for
the truth of Moshe's mission, as Rav Yehudah Halevi remarks
in the Kusri. Moshe
had to deal with a clear-minded people whose minds were not
befogged by fantastic ideas, and who were not easily taken
in, or convinced, by the first man who comes along.
If then, ultimately, this very people have cheerfully
given themselves up for centuries to fight the world, and to
die for "the teachings of this Moshe," it is a
proof that the sending of this Moshe must have won them over
to an unassailable conviction by the force of actual deed
comments concerning the "Jewish speech" above, Rav
sharp irony even in moments of deepest anxiety and despair
is characteristic of the witty vein which is inherent in the
Jewish race from their earliest beginnings.
Moshe's response in perek yud-gimel (13):
one and only activity that such a critical moment demands of
us is an internal one - to bring oneself to a state of clam
and to the mood of quietly standing and waiting.
This designates the highest degree of the reality of
"being" which God gives Man - salvation from an
existence which is threatened. The Hebrew designates more, an abundance of goods, hence also
the well-to-do, and accordingly refers more to the sphere,
the periphery of a being than to the being itself.
The opposite idea would be the conception of
Further, the language indicates a granting of an
extended sphere, granting of power, freeing of domain -
victory in battle, where the enemy who threatens our domain
is beaten back.
What can be
learned from these few verses?
Quite a number of things.
First, that our relationship with God is quite unique
compared to the other religions of this world.
The Jewish people are permitted, perhaps expected, to
have a more intimate relationship with Hashem than any other
all, it is not at all unusual to us to openly ask what it is
that God is up to or to openly disagree with His actions.
Second, we see in these psukim a clear definition of
what the word "salvation" means in the Jewish
does not have anything to do with an afterlife.
Rather, it is in the here and now.
It is survival from Paro's army, survival from
multiple peoples and armies during the time in the desert
and upon taking the land, survival from the Babylonians at
the end of the First Temple, survival from the Greeks as is
now commemorated with Chanukah, survival from Haman as is
now commemorated with Purim, survival from the Romans,
survival from the Diaspora, survival from the Inquisition of
the Church and other Christian persecution, survival in the
Pale, survival in the Shoah, survival in the many wars in
today's Israel. All
of these things have taken terrible tolls but the Jewish
people have survived through God's salvation.
there is the concept of, after all the discussion and angst,
accepting God's Hand in all things and knowing that if we
will but keep faith with Him, He will keep faith with us.