THOUGHT FOR PARSHAT BESHALACH 5781
BY RABBI CHAIM FACHLER
DIVREI TORAH ARE IN MEMORY OF
OUR 4 YEAR OLD GREAT NEPHEW,
BENZION BEN AVRAHAM MOSHE
NOMI ELLMAN, WHO WAS NIFTAR THIS WEEK
This week's Parsha, Beshalach, and next week's Yitro, both describe the transition of our people from slaves to a sovereign nation worthy of receiving the Holy Torah. We leave Egypt, they chase us, we jump into the sea, they follow, we survive through the dividing of the waters, they drown, we get fed with the Manna, we survive our first military battle by relying on Hashem's divine mercy - as well as numerous other open miracles - until we are worthy of indeed receiving the Torah.
But when exactly did we become the sovereign nation that deserves its own land?
HaShem was preparing us for this, but we had to show that we were ready. So we followed Moshe into the wilderness; we travelled a long way round; we went into the sea; we fought Amalek. And by doing all of the above, we showed that we accepted Moshe as our leader. That's all this week. And so far so good.
But it isn't till next week in Parshat Yitro that HaShem is finally convinced that we were really and truly ready.
"Vayichan Sham Yisrael Neged Ha'har" - And Israel encamped there opposite the mountain. The word "Vayichan" literally means "and he encamped" in the singular. Says Rashi: "Ke'ish echad be'lev echad". As one being, with one heart. Achdut! Unity! Togetherness. Mutual responsibility.
This attribute is already hinted at in our Parsha. Straight after the huge miracle of the dividing of the Sea which allowed our people to cross into safety, followed by the equally huge miracle of the Sea coming back together to destroy the Egyptians, everyone burst into song. But the Torah states: “Az Yashir Moshe Uvenei Yisrael” And then Moshe and the Children of Israel began singing. Here too the word Yashir really means “he sang”, not “they sang”. But because they all sang in unison, HaShem saw already then that they possessed this potential of true unity.
At Mount Sinai, the People of Israel’s unity was confirmed. HaShem decided that we were indeed worthy of receiving the Torah.
Before Covid, this experience of singing HaShem’s praises in unison, happened in so many Congregations every Shabbat all over the world, and at SNAC we were so proud of that achievement. I hope and pray that the day isn’t far off that we can all return to that uplifting opportunity to show HaShem that we are a united nation, made up of united Congregations, and thus worthy of HaShem’s love and protection.