Beshalach

  1. My brother Isaiah points out that Pi hahiroth and Baal Zephon were gods of Egypt and Canaan respectively. They are the great gods of ancient civilization. It is here, before these witnesses, that Hashem will display his greatest miracle.
  2. When the Jews are surrounded, why is there never any attempt to resist? They give no thought to fighting despite having millions of people. This is an almost never-ending commentary on Jews. When people come to exterminate us we have cried but only a few of us have acted. The slave mentality is hard to overcome – and still lives on.
  3. Why would Egyptians walk into the sea? My mother Chana points out that just as Hashem’s mission is His glorification, the Egyptian Mission is to retain their pride as great people – even if it kills them. There is more than physical survival at stake.
  4. The second verse of Az Yashir is often translated as “The Lord’s strength and song are my salvation” but the simple translation is “My strength and the Lord’s zemer are my salvation.” A zemer has no words. There are those who have suggested a harmonic note may have split the sea. But perhaps more critically, the people realized they had a role to play. They did, just a little, contribute their own strength. This is critical to becoming a full people and not just slaves and perhaps the point of Hashem making them act instead of just rescuing them.
    1. The women danced and sang. Why them? Perhaps as givers of children they recognized the future that had come. The men saw lost productivity and purpose.
    2. Why do they sing now and not earlier? Because until they see the destruction of Egypt, they believe the escape isn’t real. They are still fearful.
  5. After the crossing we see three challenges. They frustrate Moshe, but the people’s complaints are perfectly reasonable. The first is the bitter water – from which we see a commandment to keep a chok – a statute.
  6. The second is the lack of food – from which they are given the manna and commanded to keep Shabbos.
  7. And the last is water again. And Moshe goes to Har Sinai and strikes the rock and water flows and leads to the Jewish people. They progress from there to the full water of Torah. It is a three stage process of teshuva or even conversion. First take on a chok, then Shabbos and then you can accept Torah. This analysis comes from Rav Bick at Yeshivat Har Etzion.

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