תש”פ פ’ בשל ח

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 Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.

ולא נחם אלקים דרך ארץ פלשתים כי קרו ב הו א
“G-d did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, because it was near…” (13:17)
They were led through the wilderness for many years so that they would become accustomed to trust in Him and believe that He sustains mankind, and to come to the realization that there is nothing that is beyond His ability. This is what is meant by ולא נחם אלקים דרך ארץ פלשתי
G-d did not lead them derech eretz Pelishtim – Hashem did not lead them by the way of derech eretz, meaning, He did not lead them in the way of the natural world. כי קרוב הוא , because it was still too close to their having left Egypt.

Indeed, because they were still close to the time they had left Egypt, their faith in G-d had not yet penetrated their essence. They had not yet learned to rely upon Hashem, no matter what. It therefore became essential that they be witness to great miracles, including Kriat Yam Suf. This event demonstrated to them that even when surrounded by hostile forces, even when the cold steel of the sword’s blade is close to their necks, they have no reason to despair. Hashem would be there for them. They would need a period of transition, forty years’ worth of experience with Hashem under harsh circumstances, to help them develop this deep faith. (Rabbi Nisson Alpert)

התיצבו וראו את ישועת ה ‘
“Stand still and see the salvation of Hashem…” (14:13)
These epic words were uttered by Moshe, heralding the great miracle of Kriat Yam Suf, the parting of the Sea of Reeds. The numerical value of התיצבו , stand still, is equal to that of חתן , groom, and כלה , bride. This gematria recalls the well-known rabbinic aphorism: “Finding a suitable match is as difficult as the parting of the Sea of Reeds.”
An alternate interpretation suggests that the gematria meant to hold out the promise that Bnei Yisrael were to be saved in the merit of the standing at Har Sinai, at which time Klal Yisrael would be given in marriage, so to speak, to Hashem. (Chomas Anoch)

ואתה הרם את מטך ונטה את ידך על הי ם
“Take up your staff and raise your arm over 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 miracles: 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 miracles. The same applies in all areas of life. Asking for G-d’s blessings is not sufficient; we must make some effort that can serve as a conduit for the blessings. (Likutei Sichot)

ויאמר מ שה אל יהושע בחר לנו אנשים וצא ה לחם בעמלק…ומשה אהרן וחור עלו ראש הגב ע ה
“Moshe said to Yehoshua, ‘Choose people for us to go do battle with Amalek’…Moshe, Aharon and Chur ascended to the top of the hill.’” (17:9-10)
QUESTION: Why was it necessary to have a team consisting of Moshe, Aharon, and Chur to fight Amalek?
ANSWER: Under normal circumstances, when the Jewish people behave properly, Amalek is unable to attack them. However, he attacked the Jews in the city of Rephidim, whose name indicates two reasons for their vulnerability to attack: a) Ripu atzman midivrei Torah – their involvement in Torah weakened (Sanhedrin 106a). b) Pirud – lack of unity (see Kli Yakar).
The first letters of the names אהרן, חור, יהושע, מ שה form the acronym for אחי ם – brothers. Moshe’s call to the Jewish people was to act as brothers, live in brotherly harmony, and be united in the study of Torah and observance of mitzvot. This would assure that Amalek would be unable to penetrate the Jewish camp. (Yalkut Reuveini)

Celebrating the Holiday of Tu B’Shevat
QUESTION: The Torah states, “ki ha’adam eitz hasadeh” – “Man is like the tree of the field” (Devarim 20:19). The Jewish people have often been compared to different trees; what lesson can man learn from trees?
ANSWER: Trees teach us the following: 1) A tree is planted by first putting a seed in the ground. Afterwards, it is necessary to constantly water the ground and remove all weeds. In each and every Jew, Hashem implanted a Divine seed – his soul. It is man’s obligation to water it with Torah study and protect it by weeding out bad friends or influences. 2) A healthy tree continues to grow and grow. A healthy Jew must continuously grow spiritually. This is accomplished through studying Torah and performing mitzvot. 3) To assure that a young tree will grow straight, it is tied to two supports, one on each side. To ensure that a young child grows beautifully, the parents must always be at his side and constantly supervise him. 4) The strength of the tree depends on how well it is rooted in the ground. The root of a Jew is his emunah. 5) The beauty of a tree is the fruit it produces. Mitzvot and ma’asim tovim – good deeds – are man’s fruits. (Vedebarta Bam)