Beshalach 5782 – Between a Rock and a Hard Place

By: Larry Tobin

Have you ever found yourself caught between a rock and a hard place? Well, that’s exactly the dilemma that the fleeing Jews of Egypt found as they made their way toward the promised land. The full might of Egypt was behind them. The sea was in front of them. What to do? 

We are called up for an Aliyah. We recite the blessings. Blessed are thou Lord our G-d for giving us Toras Emes (the Torah of Truth).  Just idle chatter? We read the Parsha of the week from the Holy Torah.  Just another waste of time? We read about miracles which we sometimes mock. At other times we look  for natural causes to explain their occurrence or we inexplicably state that some of the things we  read are only stories. Isn’t the Torah real? 

Today in Beshalach we recount perhaps the greatest miracle of them all. The splitting of the sea. Miracle or fabrication? Assuming arguendo (for argument’s sake) that the sea was split and that it was a miracle, what can we learn from this Parsha? 

As the Jewish people faced a catastrophe, Egyptian onslaught or drown, they in typical Jewish style began to debate. Isn’t that what we commonly do when we face difficult issues? Some suggested returning to Egypt. But won’t this only lead to a return to slavery and harsh reprisal by the Egyptians? Others suggested  standing firm and fighting the Egyptians. But aren’t the chances of untrained and ill-equipped forces  defeating the Egyptians slim to none? The debate lingered on until Moses finally spoke up and urged them  to proceed forward into the sea. “Are you crazy Moses? We’ll all drown”, responded the masses. “Have  faith in G-d”, replied Moses. “See how He brings you salvation”.   The people proceeded forward into the  sea. The rest is history. 

The perils at the sea would not be the last test of faith that the Jewish people would have to face as they developed from a slave nation into the B’nai Yisroel. And the Jewish people throughout history have continued to face challenges to their faith. Doesn’t the pandemic test our faith? We can cower and retreat from it and allow it to make us its slaves.  We can try fighting it, perhaps with some very limited success. We can change our methods of prayer and means of worship. We can communicate with G-d in unnatural ways. We can limit or eliminate social contact. But as Beshalach clearly establishes, the path to freedom  is to proceed forward into the sea and place our faith in G-d that all will turn out well. Faith, you see, is no stroll in the park. It is a real challenge.   

Mock me for my naivete, if you wish.  Despise me for my D’var, if that pleases you. But whatever your opinion of me, please don’t allow your fear of the pandemic to turn you away from the teachings of the Torah of Truth. 

Shabbat Shalom  


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