Dedicated Leiluy Nishmat Esther Bat Zakieh By Alan Chrem
At the end of last week’s parasha, after Pharaoh reluctantly sent B’nei Yisrael from Egypt, Moshe instructed the people (13:14), “And it shall be when your son will ask you at some future time, ‘What is this?’ You shall say to him, ‘With a strong hand Hashem removed us from Egypt from the house of bondage.’” From that time until today, every mitzva we are commanded to do and every holiday that we celebrate is a reminder of how Hashem saved us from Pharaoh’s grip and redeemed us from slavery with a strong hand to become a free people!
Every day we read in the Shema, “Ani Hashem elokechem asher hotzeti etchem me’eretz mitzrayim leheyot lachem le’elokim; Ani Hashem elokechem — I am Hashem, your G-d who redeemed you from the land of Egypt to be your G-d.” This text reminds us that it’s our obligation to pass the story of our redemption from generation to generation up until this very day!
Taking the Leap of Faith...
As B’nei Yisrael left Egypt, Hashem sent them on a detour in order to bypass the land of the Philistines. This led them to the shores of the Yam Suf. When they realized that Pharaoh’s army was pursuing them, and they were trapped between the sea and the Egyptian army, they began to lose faith that Hashem would not save them again.
They cried out to Hashem: “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us to die in the desert?”
Hashem responded to Moshe, “ma tizak elai — Why do you cry out to me?”
The Ohr HaHayyim adds “Who should they cry out too, if not to Hashem?”
Hashem instructed Moshe: “Speak to B’nei Yisrael and tell them to move forward!”
The Ohr HaHayyim explains that at times tefilah is not enough and we need to take a leap of faith to show our Emuna in Hashem!
According to the midrash, Nachshon ben Aminadav, a prince of the tribe of Judah, was the first one to take that leap of faith and jump into the Yam Suf.
Rabenu Bachiya explains that the water didn’t split all at once, and therefore they were not able to see across to the other side. Rather, there was a wall of water in front of them, but with each step that they took, the sea split a bit more. Similarly, in life we as we move forward step by step and as we go through the trials and tribulations of our lives overcoming our challenges as they come to us one at a time. It’s only much later in our lives that we can look back and see with clarity how our lives progressed and how we have grown to the point where we are today! We have to constantly have emuna and bitachon that Hashem will be there for us and guide us through our lives — as long as we continue to follow in the derech of Hashem — even though we can’t possibly see what lies ahead of us!
Hashem says to us, ma tizak elai? Why are you crying out to Me? Just take that leap of faith and have complete confidence that I am always with you!
We have to know that Hashem is always with us and if we sincerely believe that there’s really nothing for us to worry about! The splitting of the sea has been compared to shiduchim and parnasah. In other words those things are as difficult as Kiriyat Yam Suf (Splitting of the Sea) but also when it happens, and in retrospect it seems so obvious and simple!
A story is told of a man who wasn’t so successful in his parnasah, but someone suggested that he go into business selling disposable cups. He tried it but it was difficult in the beginning. He was doing all right, but was not earning as much as he expected to. One day, he came up with an idea to put one less cup in the package. Instead of the 150 cups that were supposed to be in it, he would put in 149. People won’t notice, he thought, and he’d be able to make extra money.
Sure enough, his plan worked – but he got even greedier. He started putting 148 cups, and then 147 cups. Eventually, he went down to 142 cups per package. At that time, he met a religious man who started learning Torah with him, and he himself became more religious.
He felt terrible about his thievery and wanted to do teshuvah, so he decided to seek counsel from a great Rabbi. He set up a meeting with Rav Elyashiv and told him what he had done. After thinking about it, the Rabbi instructed him that from then on he should add eight extra cups to his packages – for a total of 158 - to pay back the public.
This was obviously going to be very detrimental to his profits, but he accepted the words of the great sage and began adding cups. After a while, he saw that he was losing money, but he continued to follow the Rabbi’s directive.
One day, someone showed him a newspaper article. It was about companies trying to cut corners and cheat their customers in the disposable cups market. There was a list of many companies who were including fewer cups than the packaging indicated. Then the article mentioned that there was one company that was giving eight extra cups – probably in case the package contained a few damaged ones. This company is very reputable, the article concluded, and recommended buying from them. He eventually made millions as he added plastic plates, cutlery and many different lines to his disposable plastic cup business which continued to grow to be extremely successful. All this because he took that “Leap of Faith” and decided to follow in the ways of the Torah and adhere to the direction and advice of our gedoliim!
The Power of Torah
The Ohr HaHayyim has an amazing commentary that teaches us how we can apply these events to our everyday life. Our Rabbi’s tell us that when B’nei Yisrael reached the Yam Suf, the water did not want to split.
The Yam Suf said to Hashem, “Why should I split for Moshe? I was created on the third day, and man was created on the sixth day, which makes me greater than man.”
The Rabbis explain that the Torah preceded the world and is a blueprint for this world. When Hashem created the sea, He made a yesod (fundamental concept) that if a talmid hacham asks water to go against its nature, then the water is obligated to do so.
The water protested that Moshe was not a talmid hacham yet, because the Torah would only be given forty days later!
Hashem replied that Moshe was on his way to receive the Torah so that he would qualify as a talmid hacham.
The Yam Suf listened and split for Moshe!
There are many occasions in the Torah when great men are able to perform miracles, like when Yehoshua was able to stop the sun from setting during a battle to conquer the land of Israel. Great Rabbis have also been able to bring about miraculous events that indicate Hashem’s intervention.
Yosef to the Rescue
Another midrash teaches that the angels complained, “Why are you saving the Israelites and killing the Egyptians, when they both served idols? What’s the difference between them, and why would you save one and not the other?”
The Rabbis explain that Moshe was still carrying Yosef’s bones in order to bring them out of Egypt as Yosef had requested. When the Yam Suf saw Yosef’s bones, they were a reminder that the Israelites were not like the Egyptians. Yosef Hatzaddik had gone against his yetzer hara and run away from Potifar’s wife when she tried to seduce him. Because of Yosef’s zechut, the sea also ran away and obeyed the order to split. B’nei Yisrael were able to walk through the waters and thus be rescued from the pursuing Egyptian army.
The Horse with Its Rider
After B’nei Yisrael had safely crossed to the other side of the Yam Suf as the Egyptian army pursued them, Hashem performed another miracle and caused the sea to come down on them and drown Pharaoh’s army, along with their horses and chariots.
Moshe’s sister Miriam the Prophetess gathered all the women on the shores of the Yam Suf to sing praises to Hashem in celebration of their rescue from Pharaoh and his army. In passuk 15:21 Miriam leads the song, “Sing to Hashem for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea.”
The Rabbis tell us that the women asked Miriam, “How will we, as women, get reward for the mitzvah of Torah study?”
The answer came in the form of another question: Why were the horses punished along with the Egyptian soldiers? The midrash answers that just as the horses died because they helped the soldiers pursue B’nei Yisrael; so too will the women reap the rewards for being the ones who help to the men, who are responsible for learning the Torah and carrying it forward throughout the generations!
There’s an interesting connection between this week’s parasha and the haftara, which begins with the passuk, “On that day, Debora and Barak son of Abinoam sang, saying: Whether Hashem wreaks vengeance against Israel or the people dedicate themselves to Him — bless Hashem!” This song goes on to praise Hashem for thirty stanzas, ending with the line “So may all Your enemies be destroyed, Hashem. And let those who love Him be like the powerfully rising sun.”
These two songs from two great prophetesses, Miriam and of Debora, eloquently display our dedication and reverence to the Almighty Hashem.
May we all have emuna in Hashem that He’s always with us throughout our lives, each and every step of the way, even though we may not yet be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. May we also emulate Nachshon ben Aminadav by having the courage to take that leap of faith with our families and in our careers, with the faith that Hashem will always be there for us as long as we have emuna! May we always continue to sing praises to Hashem as Miriam, Debora and so many other great women throughout our history have always done!
· How would your family look without your wife’s contributions?
· What leaps of faith have we taken in life, and what was the outcome?
Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey
Eliyahu Ben Rachel Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher
Sarah Bat Chanah Esther Bat Sarah
Shulamit Bat Helaina Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana
Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rafael Ben Miriam
Rav Haim Ben Rivka Moshe Ben Mazal
Yitzchak Ben Adele Avraham Ben Mazal
Chanah Bat Esthe Ovadia Ben Esther
Moshe Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal
Avraham Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal
Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Kami
Meir Ben Latifa Moshe Ben Yael
Malka Bat Garaz Mordechai Ben Rachel
Yaakov Ben Leah
Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal
Natan Ben Rachel
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