פ’ בשלח תשע”ט
Volume 27, Issue 4
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
דבר אל בני ישראל ויסעו
“Speak to the Children of Israel and let them journey forth…” (14:15)
The Gemara (Sotah 37a) tells the story that led up to our verse. Hashem commanded the Jews to go forward into the sea, and it would split for them. However, only the tribe of Yehudah, led by Nachshon ben Aminadav, trusted in Hashem, and jumped into the sea. While this was happening, Moshe was saying a long prayer to Hashem to save the Jews.
Hashem said to Moshe, “My dear ones (Nachshon and his tribe) are drowning in the sea and you are saying a long prayer to Me? This is not the time for prayer!” Moshe said to Hashem, “What then should I do?” Hashem answered Moshe with the words of our verse and the next one: “Speak to the Children of Israel and let them journey forth! Lift up your staff and stretch out your hand and split it, and the Children of Israel shall come into the midst of the sea on dry land.” (Rabbi Munk)
ואתה הרם את מטך ונטה את ידך על הים
“Take up your staff and raise your arm above the sea.” (14:16)
The splitting of the Sea of Reeds was a miraculous and supernatural event. Yet there had to be a natural action to “ignite” the miracle; G-d instructed the people to journey forward and Moshe to lift his staff over the water. G-d always demands some human act first and only then does He perform miracles.
This is because events that occur without our involvement do not truly affect us. Only when we expend some effort do we appreciate G-d’s miracle. The same applies in all areas of life. Asking for G-d’s blessing is not sufficient; we must make some effort that can serve as a conduit for the blessing. (Likutei Sichot)
שם שם לו חק ומשפט
“There He established for the nation a decree and an ordinance…” (15:25)
At Marah, Hashem commanded Bnei Yisrael to observe ten mitzvot even before the Torah was given. These include: the seven mitzvot given to the sons of Noach, the mitzvah to establish courts, the mitzvah to observe Shabbat, and the mitzvah to honor one’s parents.
We learn that they were given the mitzvah to set up courts from our verse, which states, “There (in Marah) He established for (the nation) a decree and an ordinance. This means that Hashem commanded the Jews to set up courts that would judge and enforce the decrees and laws of the Torah. (Sanhedrin 56a – The Call of the Torah)
כאשר צוה ה’ אל משה
“As Hashem had commanded to Moshe…” (16:34)
Here the verb צוה, commanded, is followed by the preposition אל, to. This is the only time this construction occurs in the Torah and it implies that the command was addressed to Moshe personally (see Malbim). Indeed, the Talmud (Taanit 9b) records that the gift of manna was earned by the merit of Moshe. Accordingly, on the seventh of Adar, the day of Moshe’s death, the manna ceased (Rashi, v. 35).
Indeed, when the manna began to fall, Moshe originated the ברכת המזון. He authored the first blessing – ברכת הזן – which is the oldest prayer we recite (Brachot 48b). Divine Providence reveals itself in two forms: השגחה כללית, general supervision over the world, exalted in this benediction by the words הזן את העולם כלו – Who nourishes the entire world, and השגחה פרטית, individual supervision, which relates to each person’s private needs and concerns, expressed in the words הוא נתן לחם כל בשר, He gives nourishment to all flesh. Both ideals emanate from G-d’s infinite love – כי לעולם חסדו, for His kindness is eternal. Our awareness of Hashem’s ever-present Providence gives us confidence in the future for we know that Hashem sustains His creatures – ומכין מזון לכל בריותיו אשר ברא – He prepares food for all His creatures which He created. (Rabbi Munk)
והיה כאשר ירים משה ידו וגבר ישראל וכאשר יניח ידו וגבר עמלק
“And it came to pass when Moshe holds up his hand, then Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, then Amalek prevailed.” (17:11)
It is not written and when Moshe held up his hand, but when he holds up his hand, meaning that in every generation when Moshe lifts up “his hand”, meaning upholding the strength of the Torah, then Bnei Yisrael will prevail, and if they do not uphold the Torah, then heaven forbid, Amalek will prevail. (Chafetz Chaim)
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