epar68017.rtf (including the verse "the heart of a king" quoted above).
בס"ד The author of Mei-Hashiloach (the rabbi of Ostrovche) explained in a
PARASHAT HASHAVUA Rosh Hashanah sermon that the idea behind these three elements is that
even if they appear to be bad in the beginning we are optimistic and
hope for mercy, and we can always expect a happy end. "For example, if
PARASHA : Beshalach one sees a serpent in a dream, which is a frightening thing, our sages
have given it the opposite meaning, explaining that it indicates a good
Date :12 Sevat 5768, 19/1/2008 livelihood (like a snake, whose food, the dust of the earth, is readily
“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list available). The same is true of a king - even if at first he may appear to
subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for be bad, he can be turned around to good by the Almighty. And the year
members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden) too - even if it begins in poverty it can be a rich year in the end."
Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori We can also explain the comparison of the "heart of a king" in the
Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l above quote to the "streams of water," as is written in the Midrash: "Just
Please respect the Holiness of these pages as when you put water into a vessel you can move it towards any side
These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word that you want, so when a person becomes a king his heart is given over
format. Anyone who is interested in receiving them, can subscribe via to the hand of the Almighty... And therefore it is written, 'He can make
the Parasha web site: http://parasha.sde.org.il/eparasha - Arieh. him turn any way that He wants.'" [Midrash Mishlei 21]. Even though
water is usually a symbol of a flat plain (the principle used in a level), a
1 - SHABBAT B’SHABBATO (Tzomet)
Extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel;
small deviation can disturb its equilibrium. All we need is for a small
Divine push to the right, a slight disturbance of the balance, and we will
http://www.moreshet.co.il/zomet/index-e.html be successful!
STARTING POINT: With a "High" Hand ******
- by Rabbi Amnon Bazak, Yeshivat Har Etzion Who Is the Bad Guy?
After Bnei Yisrael had already left, it would have been reasonable to I do not agree with the "spokesmen for the right" who tried to paint
assume that they would not meet the Egyptians any more on their way to our guest as an evil person, if not completely than at least partially. I do
the Promised Land. However, as we know, the Almighty organized things not agree with reproachful declarations and harsh criticisms against the
differently: He commanded Bnei Yisrael to retrace their steps so that the "one who would uproot the outposts" and who demands the "end of the
Egyptians would think that the people were "trapped in the land" [Shemot occupation." Not only are such cries not a wise tactic, they are also not
14:3], in order that Pharaoh's heart would be hardened and he would justified!
pursue them. The purpose was for G-d "to be glorified through Pharaoh I will admit without shame (in a play on words, the Hebrew root for
and his army, so that Egypt will know that I am G-d" [14:4]. However, Ibn shame is "Bush") – I feel that we can count on the "heart of a king" who
Ezra finds that the passage is difficult to understand. "If one asks why G- has a vision of expanding worldwide democracy, and who sent his army
d commanded Yisrael to return, it is useless to search for an answer" and his nation to back up this belief by going into a difficult campaign
[14:8]. Evidently, Ibn Ezra's difficulty stems from the fact that G-d could which was not appreciated by the other nations. I feel that we can count
have caused Pharaoh's heart to be heavy without any relation to the on the "heart of a king" who initiated a crusade against Islamic
events. In fact, the wording of the passage does not imply any link fundamentalism even at the risk of losing popularity in his own land and
between the fact that Bnei Yisrael returned and Pharaoh's chase. Why of ever rising prices of oil. I feel that we can count on the "heart of a king"
then were they commanded to return? who seems to have reached the end of his reign (so far, at least) without
Evidently the answer lies in the following verse: "And G-d any wild affairs or immoral behavior, as has happened to so many who
strengthened the heart of Pharaoh the King of Egypt, and he pursued ruled before him. Don't think that this is a simple matter in the twenty-first
Bnei Yisrael. And Bnei Yisrael left with a high hand." [14:8]. What does century. I feel that we can count on the "heart of a king" who is not
the phrase "with a high hand" mean? Rashi explains, "With well ashamed to declare his moderate religious beliefs.
publicized and high level courage." But this is not so simple, since right Thus, I accept the statement of our sages about the "heart of a king"
after this verse we are told about the nation's great fear when they saw being compared to a "stream of water," which can be turned in a new
the Egyptians pursuing them (see Rashbam). Perhaps another direction by a small adjustment. If we act wisely and G-d will be with us,
explanation is possible. "He can make him turn any way that He wants." I propose, from my
In comparing different places in the Torah where the phrase "a high position as an unofficial observer, to leave it up to the other side, our
hand" appears, it is clear that it is a negative expression, implying enemy, to spoil the party and to take on the role of the one with stubborn
exaggerated pride and a criticism of G-d. For example, here is how the objections who will muddy the "streams" and upset their equilibrium. Up
Torah describes a person who intentionally commits a sin: "And the soul till now, the enemy has fulfilled this role admirably, and I hope they will
which does something with a high hand" [Bamidbar 15:30]. In the poetic continue to do so. It is not easy as an unofficial observer to say exactly
epic of Ha'azinu it is written that G-d will redeem Yisrael to ward off the how to accomplish this goal, how to move the ball over to the other side.
audacity of the Gentiles, who would attribute their victory to themselves It would seem that the best strategy is "biding our time" and putting off
and not to the Almighty. "Lest they say our hand is high, and G-d did not any final decisions. There are always good reasons to delay: the
accomplish all of this" [Devarim 32:27]. Thus, in our case too, the verse Vinograd Report, internal coalition problems, the Egyptian sponsorship of
implies that Bnei Yisrael left Egypt with a feeling of pride, almost as if the Philadelphia Line, or even a prostate cancer. Not that the Americans
they were to be given the credit for the redemption. And to counteract are stupid, and don't think that they cannot read Shabbat B'Shabbato (we
this feeling, it was necessary for them to be pursued by Egypt. The point even have an English version on the internet, just check it at
was not only for G-d to be glorified by the victory over Pharaoh but also zomet.org.il). But based on our experience we can depend on our
as a way to counteract the exaggerated pride of Bnei Yisrael. enemies to do their part, and the Americans have many objective
Indeed, immediately after these events, the feeling of a "high hand" reasons to hold back and wait.
left the people, replaced by fear. "And they were very afraid, and Bnei And to those who are afraid of what the "new king" who will appear
Yisrael cried out to G-d" [Shemot 14:10]. In order for Bnei Yisrael to on the scene next year might do, I suggest that they think back over the
correctly understand their dependence on the Almighty, the "high hand" years. So far, every new President has been better for us than his
is replaced by another hand (note that the word "hand" appears seven predecessors, echoing the words of the man who was wisest of all: "The
times in the passage). Moshe waves his hand over the sea (see 14:16, heart of a king is... in the hand of G-d, He can make him turn any way
14:21, 14:26, 14:27), while the water splits at first and then returns to that He wants."
cover the Egyptians. At the end of the passage, it is emphasized that the RESPONSA FOR OUR TIMES: A Living Torah Scroll
hand that controlled all of the events is merely a symbol for the real hand - by Rabbi Re'eim Hacohen, Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi, Otniel
that was in charge: "And Yisrael saw the great hand that G-d fashioned Question: Should one tear his or her clothing at the moment of a
in Egypt, and they feared G-d, and they believed in G-d and in His person's death? If so, is there any difference between a righteous person
servant Moshe" [14:30]. and one who is not?
POINT OF VIEW: Okay, We've Gotten through the Answer:
In two places the Talmud discusses for which dead people we are
Bush Visit... required to tear our clothing out of a feeling of bereavement (Moed Katan
- by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, Dean of the Zomet Institute 24b; Shabbat 108b). According to the Mishna it is necessary only for
"The heart of a king is like streams of water in the hand of G-d, He relatives, but the Talmud expands the law to include a wise man who
can make him turn any way that He wants" [Mishlei 21:1]. passed away, because "everybody is the same as related to him" and
"And I will harden Pharaoh's heart... In the last five plagues and also then adds that one should tear his clothing for every "upstanding man."
in the drowning at the Red Sea it is also written, 'G-d hardened The Talmud further states that one who mourns an upstanding man
Pharaoh's heart,' for 'The heart of a king... He can make him turn any should be praised, and that "all his sins will be forgiven because of the
way that he wants.'" [Ramban, Shemot 7:3]. respect that he showed."
The President of the United States has left our shores, leaving The Talmud further notes that even if the dying person is not
behind some declarations that are good, some that are not so good, and completely "kosher" all of those present at the moment of his death
some that are bad. He also left a general here to "supervise" the should tear their clothing. This is explained in a Baraita in the name of
progress in navigating the "roadmap," and who knows what else was left Rabbi Shimon Ben Elazar. "To what can this be compared? It is like
behind in secret meetings. tearing the clothes for a Torah scroll that has been burned."
A King, a Good Year, and Dreams A Halachic Disagreement
My sweetest dream is that in his last year in office the king-president At first glance, Rabbi Shimon's reasoning is not easy to understand.
of the world will do good for us, in the spirit of the Talmud: "Mercy is How can a "person who is not kosher" be compared to a Torah scroll?
needed for three things: A good king, a good year, and a good dream" The commentary attributed to Rashi explains that the tearing of the
[Berachot 55a]. (Yalkut Shimoni (Yeshayahu 442) has is a modified clothing is for the soul, which is like a Torah, in that both are called a
version, replacing "a good king" with "a good leader.") These three candle ("The soul of a man is the candle of G-d" [Mishlei 20:27]; "A
elements have all joined together in our subject: The President-leader, mitzva is a candle and the Torah is light" [6:23]). Rashi in Shabbat notes
his last year, and the vision-dream. The Talmud brings proof texts that all the difficulty of the ruling and explains that the clothing should be torn
three items are directly in the hands of G-d, the true king of the world because "there is nobody in Yisrael who is so empty that
he has no Torah and mitzvot at all." In other places, Rashi is quoted as ******
saying that even a person who does not observe the commandments Note: As is well known, rabbis in modern times have developed
could have studied, and his death can therefore be compared to the methods which allow farmers to work their fields during Shemitta, the
burning of a Torah scroll. The Ramban disagrees with this approach, most common one being the "heter mechira," where the land is sold to a
saying that it is hard to accept that the clothing will be torn in honor of a Gentile during the year. Even though many rabbis support this idea, the
possible future. Rather, he feels that tearing the clothing expresses the people of Komemiyut did not want to make use of it. In telling this story, I
value of a human being. "It seems to me that the soul within the body did not want to get involved in the controversy about this issue, which
can be compared to G-d's name written on parchment. It is a parable to has been discussed by many prominent rabbis. Rather, I wanted to tell
say that a person's death is a great loss and causes great fear." All of the true story of what happened that year, from the point of view of the
these explanations strengthen the basic law, that the clothing should be farmers of Komemiyut.
torn in every case that a person dies, no matter what type of person he Reactions and suggestions for stories: email@example.com
or she is, and that the reference to a Torah scroll has no effect on the TOURING THE LAND: In the Footsteps of Barak and
law. This was also accepted by the Rambam (Hilchot Eivel 9:11). Devorah at Mount Tabor
As opposed to these early commentators, there are some opinions - by the Kefar Etzion Field School
that limit the laws of tearing the clothing in honor of a person who is not (Written in memory of two young men who knew the land intimately
upstanding. The ROSH writes that according to Rabeinu Yona one
should not tear the clothing for "an evil person or one who is suspected and gave their lives for it: David Rubin and Achikam Amichai, murdered
on the nineteenth of Tevet, 5768, at Nachal Telem, in the area of Mount
of sin." Evidently he wants to differentiate between somebody who is "not Chevron.)
a kosher person" and somebody who is evil, which is worse. Maharam of
Rutenberg disagrees with Rabeinu Yona and writes that one should not This week we will tour in the wake of the war that Devorah and Barak
waged against Sissra, going to Mount Tabor , as described in the Haftara
tear his clothing for a person who purposely commits sin or who is a of this week's Torah portion. "Go to Mount Tabor... and I will draw Sissra
habitual idol worshipper. The Shulchan Aruch accepts this opinion of the
Maharam. The RAMA, quoting a ruling of the Mordechai, adds that to you at the Kishon Stream..." [Shoftim 4:6-7]. The central position of
Mount Tabor , together with its height, its steep slopes, and perhaps its
clothing should not be torn for anybody whose custom it is to commit unique and prominent features, has made it an important landmark
sins, and the SHACH adds that this also pertains to a person who
regularly sins because of lust. According to these rabbis, one should also throughout history. Its name in Arabic, Jabel A-Tur ("the mountain"), also
shows how important it is. This name is reserved for especially
not observe the "shiva" of mourning for such people. conspicuous mountains, like the Mount of Olives and Mount Gerizim .
The Halacha Today
It is written in "Gesher Hachaim" that it is not customary to tear the At the foot of the mountain, there used to be an important junction.
The ancient route from the sea passed through on the way north from the
clothing at the moment of death, out of fear that people will refrain from Yizrael Valley, and it was joined by other routes: from the Gallil, from the
witnessing the moment of death because they do not want to damage
their clothing. In modern times, since clothes are not that expensive, this Jordan Valley going through the Tabor River, and from the Beit Shaan
Valley. When the tribes settled the land, Mount Tabor served to mark the
is no longer relevant, and the ruling of the Talmud should be accepted, border between the portions of Zevulun to the west, Yissachar to the
and the clothing should be torn at the moment of death.
With respect to the disagreements discussed above, it is clear that in south and to the east, and Naftali to the north. The Prophetess Devorah
and Barak Ben Avinoam choose the mountain as the place to gather
modern times a majority of the rabbis feel that sinners are not apostates their army, which was made up of men from Naftali and Zevulun, since it
but can be compared to people who were captured as young children
(see Binyan Tzion 2:23 and Rabbi Chaim Ozer [Achiezer 4:3], among was at a strategic point (and perhaps also a traditional meeting place).
During the time of the Second Temple , the mountaintop was one of
others). The Chazon Ish defines sinners as people who are not at fault the sites where bonfires were lit to signal the beginning of the new month
because there is no real way to observe the commandment to rebuke
them. In practice, there are no prominent rabbis who prevent people from and the holidays. At the end of the era of the Second Temple, during the
great revolution, Yosef Ben Matityahu fortified the mountaintop, but it
observing the rituals of mourning in memory of sinners. Since most of the was captured by the Romans when the cisterns emptied out. The Jewish
early commentators ruled that one should tear the clothing even for a
person who does not act properly, we should accept this ruling. Without a settlement at Tabor was renewed after the end of the revolution.
How Do We Get There?
doubt, this law, which is rooted in the higher levels of sanctity, will help to We leave Afulah on Route 65, heading northeast, and just before the
enhance the love for everybody in Yisrael, who can indeed all be
compared to a Torah scroll. Gazit Junction we turn north to the village Shibli. At the far end of the
village we turn south, following the signs to Mount Tabor. We ride up a
A LESSON FOR THE CHILDREN: "I Will Command winding road until we reach the entrance gate of the monastery at the
To Give My Blessing" top. We continue on foot on the path marked in black, which circles
- by Rabbi Yikhat Rozen, Merkaz Neria, Kiryat Malachi around the mountain, passing through natural and beautiful
In the Shemitta year of 5712 (1951-52), the farmers of Moshav Mediterranean growth. (The marker changes to green at the eastern part
Komemiyut let their land rest and took a full year of vacation. They did of the trail.) On the way, as we circle around the Franciscan monastery,
not grow anything at all during the year, occupying themselves instead we can see the remains of the fortifications built during the revolution and
with the study of Torah. Of course, when people do not work for a whole also the glorious view of the lower Gallil spread out beneath our feet. We
year their money dwindles, and signs of distress began to appear, but can imagine seeing Barak's warriors spreading out from the mountain
they managed to survive somehow with their savings and hope for the towards Sissra's large army in the Yizrael Valley , pushing them towards
best. the Kishon.
After the end of Shemitta, the people wanted to plant their fields We can end our tour with the prayer recited by Devorah at the end of
again. They tried to buy seeds, hoping for a good crop. They turned to her epic poem: "In such a way shall all of Your enemies be lost, O G-d,
farmers in the surrounding area, but they could only find wheat that had when His loved ones be like the sun rising in strength..." [5:31].
been grown during the year of Shemitta – which they did not want to use, (Written by: Areleh Meitlis)
since it was prohibited. The general manager of the farms started to Field trips:
worry, as did all the other inhabitants. Where would they be able to find Thursday, 17 Shevat (24/1): Night tour of Jerusalem – the Western
seeds that they were allowed to plant? Wall tunnels; buildings marked with gold
They searched far and wide, and in the end they found a storehouse Friday, 18 Shevat (25/1): The Jerusalem Corridor – the double
in a neighboring kibbutz with waste grain from two years before. Some narrative (bus tour)
people from Komemiyut went with the man in charge of the storehouse, - Cliffs and waterfalls in the Og river basin (by bus, in cooperation
and they could all see immediately that the seeds were broken open and with "Eretz Nehederet"
full of worms. The air was filled with the odor of rotten grain, and it was - In the wake of blooming almond trees (family tour in private cars)
clear from looking at the pile of grain that there was little hope of using it. Contact: Kefar Etzion Field School , 02-9935133, www.k-etzion.co.il
The kibbutz farmer saw the people hesitating, and he told them that he PEOPLE OF YISRAEL: A Pillar of Fire before the
didn't think anything would grow from this grain, that it was just a waste Camp
of time to plant it. At most, it could be used as feed for cattle, but it would - by Rabbi Uri Dasberg, the Zomet Institute
certainly not be worthwhile to waste the money and effort in planting. If
they insisted, he would of course sell them the grain, but his advice was On the third of Kislev 5463 (1702), a huge fire broke out in the city of
Levov , where I was the rabbi. The 63 victims of the fire included my wife,
to forget it. But the members of the moshav had already despaired of my mother, her father and brother, and my own daughter. I was crushed
finding anything better. They had already searched high and low, so after
thinking the matter over very carefully they decided to buy the grain in under the fallen beams of my house. After about fifteen minutes, I heard
a crowd of people climbing up to the roof of the house, making loud
spite of its poor condition and to put their faith in G-d. noise. They trampled more people than were hurt in the original disaster.
Even though the grains were damaged, they paid a high price for
them. And the rumor of how the people of Komemiyut had paid a large While I was trapped under the beams of the house, I vowed to follow in
the footsteps of my grandfather, the rabbi of Krakow , after whom I am
sum of money to buy rotten grain was a subject for mocking in the named, and to write a book answering questions that Tosafot ask about
The people began to plow and plant after the end of Succot in the Rashi, concentrating more on halachic issues than on commentary.
Eventually, the students of Rabbi Yehonatan Eibshitz, who followed
eighth year, a long time after the wheat had been planted in the other after me as rabbi of Frankfurt , would claim that I was more of an expert
farms. The work was finished in the cold of the winter.
But that year, the rains were held up and did not begin to fall until the in making halachic rulings based on the Shulchan Aruch than in
understanding the intricacies of passages in the Talmud. How ironic this
middle of the winter. Farmers from the nearby towns, who had planted is, as I wrote a book of Torah innovations organized according to the
their seeds in the summer of Shemitta, saw their grains rot in the ground
from the lack of rain, and when it finally came it was too late for most of tractates of the Talmud, while Rabbi Eibshitz is the one who wrote books
on the subject of the Shulchan Aruch (Karti U'Palti on Yoreh Dei'ah and
them. The wheat did not grow, or only a small amount grew, and the Urim V'Tumim on Choshen Mishpat).
yield was very poor. However, the fields of Komemiyut, which had just
been planted, yielded large amounts of beautiful crops, and they had a Aside from his book Maginei Shlomo, which was also meant to
defend Rashi against questions on his commentaries, my grandfather
much more successful season than ever before. also wrote a book of Responsa named "Pnei Yehoshua," and I used the
Everybody could see how G-d sent His blessing to those who
observed the mitzva of Shemitta... same name for my own book. In order to differentiate
between the two books, I added the note "Api Zutri" ("minor edition"), If journalists really sat someplace
since my book was at a lower level than the one that my grandfather Where they "only" were struck with one shell a week...
wrote. In addition, the numerical value of this addition brings the title to Only one shell a week, with additional sniping
the value of "Pnei Yaacov," and Yaacov was my first name. At first I Into the meeting rooms a few times a day.
wanted to begin my book with the most commonly studied tractates of Perhaps then they would loudly demand
the Talmud, Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia, and Bava Batra. But when I To remove every firing station in range no matter what...
studied with my colleagues and my students, I found many novel Perhaps they would demand this without
interpretations in the tractates of Ketuvot, Gittin, and Kidushin, and I Hesitating... Who can tell the way of the spirit?
therefore started with these three books. (These were published in 5499 The main thing sometimes (we have felt this for a long time)
(1739) in Amsterdam . The innovations on the three Bava tractates were Is not "Yes" or "No" to "activism"
published by our subject's son Rabbi Natan in 5517 in Frankfurt – editor's The main thing is that a short distance away from the border
note.) It is easy to judge matters from a position of "writing"
I maintained a high standard in my rabbinical positions, refusing to It may be good to have a discussion, clear and comprehensive,
give any preferential treatment. When I was the rabbi of Berlin, I ruled But perhaps the opinion of the commentator depends
against one of the leaders of the community, and when he began to On the place from which he is looking.
harass me I was forced to leave the city. When I was the rabbi of ******
Frankfurt , a dispute broke out between Rabbi Yehonatan Eibshitz and Will we be counted among the indifferent ones? I hope not.
Rabbi Yaacov Emden, and I sided with Rabbi Emden, against the A CHASSIDIC THREAD : The Mall, Hell, and the
opinion of most of the community. I was once again forced to leave. They Desert
called me back two years later, but when they did not allow me to give a - by Rabbi Shlomo Shok, teacher in Yeshivat Siach and Nokdim Prep-
sermon on Shabbat Hagadol I left once again. As noted above, the school
position was then taken over by Rabbi Eibshitz.
Who is Our Subject? When a child from a remote village had the "privilege" of visiting a
mall in a big city for the first time in his life, he hid his head because of
You have been reading the "diary" of Rabbi Yaacov Yehoshua Falk, the great noise. While he sat down thinking about what he was seeing,
the "Pnei Yehoshua," who passed away on the fourteenth of Shevat
5516 (1756). He was born in Krakow on the twenty-eighth of Kislev 5441 he began to wonder why he had come to this place. And he said to his
mother, "Now I know what hell is. It is a place where a person loses
(1680), and his father was named Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh. Another dispute in contact with his own self."
which he was involved in Frankfurt concerned his ruling allowing a Kohen
to remain in a ghetto where there was a dead body, in spite of the fact Malls, like all the other popular recreation centers, give a person an
opportunity to lose himself. There are times when we need quality time of
that the houses were attached to each other. His predecessors had this type, losing ourselves and allowing the intense activity that
forbidden this because of the laws of ritual impurity (see Shevut Yaacov
volume 1, 85; Rabbi Yaacov Reisher, who wrote this Responsa, was the surrounds us to make us forget our own selves. I assume that the large
markets served the same purpose before the malls were created, giving
rabbi of Metz before the Pnei Yehoshua). us a shock which allowed us to become thoroughly mixed into the
Words of Torah by our Subject:
"The pillar of cloud did not move away during the day" [Shemot surroundings, so that we forgot our own selves. Later, we could then
return to ourselves rejuvenated by the teeming events of the market.
13:22]. Rabbi Yosef used this verse to prove to his wife that the Shabbat Gehenom, hell, is created when the boisterous surroundings become
candles must be lit before the sun sets (see Shabbat 23b). How does the
verse imply this? Rashi explains that the verse itself is superfluous, but something that bursts in on us violently, leading us to become lost. The
invasion crushes the inner spine of a person, changing him into a coat
why is it unneeded? The passage describes the second day of the hook, on which the enslaved consumer can hang his great and silly
journey taken by Bnei Yisrael, from Succot to Eitam. We read about the
first day in last week's Torah portion, "They went... from Raamses to hopes, in the tumultuous shopping and entertainment centers. The
Hebrew word for invasion "liflosh," reminds us of the Pelishtim: "And G-d
Succot" [12:37]. Why doesn't that verse emphasize that the cloud did not did not lead them through the land of the Pelishtim" [Shemot 13:17].
move away? According to the Talmud, the Exodus took place on
Thursday. Thus the journey from Succot to Eitam in this week's portion, When a nation has not yet been freed from its slavery, it can easily
allow an invading land to burst forth within it and to prevent it from
which is described by the phrase "the cloud did not move," was on building a new and strong life. This invasion prevents the nation from
Friday, before Shabbat. Only then, when the sun set at the end of the
day, did the pillar of cloud touch the pillar of fire. That is, on the day becoming free, and it is therefore written, "And G-d moved the nation
along the path of the desert of the Red Sea " [13:18].
before Shabbat the pillar of fire arrived before the pillar of cloud left, The desert is a place where you are alone with yourself, where there
showing that Shabbat candles must be lit before the sun sets.
are no invasive elements which can cause you to lose your identity. As
HOLY AND SECULAR: Fifty Years, But Nothing Has my friend Yisrael Chevroni wrote, "I am drawn towards the desert /
Changed Because it forces me to divest myself just like it is / From all luxuries / In
- by Rabbi Amichai Gordin, Yeshivat Har Etzion and Shaalvim High the desert, in the end / I meet myself."
School And that is why only one-fifth ("chamushim") of the people arrive in
The day will come when "The Book of Sdeirot" will be written. Many the desert. We have only one-fifth of what we could have achieved by
good people will appear in the book. It will tell about inhabitants of going through the land of the Pelishtim, the land which invades our inner
Sdeirot who survived long and terrible years when the Kassam rockets self and entices us to take possession of five times more than we really
fell. It will tell about Hesder yeshiva students who came from far away to need.
show support for the city. It will mention the members of the Torah In order that the recreation and shopping centers will not become an
"Garin" who dedicated their lives to the community, without any special invasive hell that makes us lose our identities, it would be a good idea to
rewards or appreciation. In letters of gold, other people and institutions spend some time in the desert before going into a mall.
that contributed to the city in its most difficult hours will be recorded, HALACHA FROM THE SOURCE : Borair with Items
people with whom I am not familiar. Other Than Food
The book will also mention the bad side of quite a few people. - by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, Rabbi of Southern Alon Shevut and a
People who were indifferent. These are the type of people that Natan teacher in Yeshivat Har Etzion
Alterman wrote about in his poem, "The Importance of Harassment." This
poem was written fifty-three years ago, at a time when the border towns Is there a prohibition of borair – selecting one thing from another –
for items that are not food, such as clothing, books, or silverware?
in the north of the country were bombarded without a stop. At the time, The main discussion of the prohibition of borair is concerned with
the journalists who lived in the peace and quiet of Tel Aviv wrote that
"this harassment is not serious," and that political wisdom insists that it types of food (Shabbat 74a). All the examples concern food. Thus, a
likely conclusion would be that the laws of borair apply only to food. This
should be ignored. Evidently the phrase "Kassam – Shmassam" was not in fact is what Rabbi Akiva Aiger wrote (Shabbat 141 – quoted by
invented by our current President.
****** Chemdat Yisrael, 49a) – just as threshing and gathering sheaves are
only relevant to produce grown on the land, so the prohibition of
Let's assume that a single Arab cannon, dispersion ("zoreh") is only relevant for produce (and the Talmud
A small insignificant cannon, would fire now and then,
A single shot, only once each week, compares zoreh to borair, Shabbat 73b).
However, the Talmud itself (74b) seems to imply that this is not true.
Aiming at the area of the newspaper offices. It is written, "Somebody who makes a clay barrel is required to bring
Imagine a meeting of the newspaper editors,
Sitting down by chance, in the afternoon, seven Chatat sacrifices." Rashi explains that this refers to grinding clods
of earth and removing the small stones, implying that the prohibition of
And one of them asks, "How are things by you?" borair also applies to earth and not only agricultural products. In addition,
And his reply is, "Unimportant harassment."
"Routine harassment, nothing important. with respect to a package of rods, it is written that one who chooses the
best rods has violated the prohibition of borair.
Now and then, in the middle of our work, Based on the commentary of Rashi, the TAZ in fact writes that the
One meager mortar shell falls
In the area of the editorial room." laws of borair apply to nonagricultural items. This is also accepted by the
Terumat Hadeshen (57), who forbids choosing some fish from among
And another one says: "In our area too others. Others who agree include Eglei Tal (borair, 12), who seems to
There is no room for complaint, only once every other week
A small bazooka is fired at us think that this is a Torah prohibition, Aruch Hashulchan (319:9), and the
Mishna Berura (15).
Straight through the windows and the doors." Silverware, Clothing, Books
And a third one says: "It will be bad, my colleagues,
If we react to such incidents. In view of the opinion of the TAZ, the Mishna Berura writes that
clothing and utensils are included in the prohibition of borair. And in
Yesterday the ceiling was almost destroyed, Shevitat Hashabbat it is written that the prohibition applies to books too,
But so what?"
So the editors talked, and my heart... said to me silently, and that one should therefore not choose a book or a piece of clothing at
night for use the next morning. This implies that it is also prohibited to
See, I am almost convinced... pick out silverware after the meal is finished and to choose the good
But a still voice of doubt asked, Can this be?
Wouldn't the line of thinking be shaken a bit,
pieces at night in order to set the table for the next morning. "Happy Tu Bishvat, Sabba Eliezer!" the children said bursting into the
However, other rabbis permit these actions. Or Samayach (Shabbat house. "Happy birthday Grandpa!" The old kibbutznik seated his guests
8:11) writes that borair only applies to items which are usually used (or with a glowing smile, and with his rough hands the old farmer offered
brought to the table) when they are mixed together. This is his basic them the fruits of the Land. "Yes, indeed! How hard we worked and
definition of a mixture. Therefore, since every piece of silverware is used slaved until the Land brought forth its fruits! All my youth, all my life I
separately, and in fact they cannot all be used together, there is no devoted to this, but… -- and here he raised his eyes – I am not sorry. I
mixture in the case of silverware and no prohibition of borair. He agrees am proud…" "Why are you proud, Sabba?" asked Yochanan the
with the TAZ that the prohibition is not limited to agricultural produce, but economist. "Fruit can be imported from abroad…."
feels that recent rabbis misunderstood the TAZ and expanded the "Nonsense, Yochi! Our fruit is sweet! The sweet product of our own
prohibition to include items that he did not want to include. labors! I built this land and I was built through it, and I am still building
Aruch Hashulchan is also lenient in this matter, for two reasons. and being built. The connection with my land is like a man's connection
First, he feels that the prohibition of borair does not apply to items that to his wife." Grandma smiled and said, "It's nice to know that you've got
can easily be distinguished by the naked eye. This means that borair another wife." "That's not what I meant, Mirele! I am married only to you,
only applies to things that are so small that they must be looked at very forever! Yet the Jewish People and their land are like a man and his wife.
carefully to be differentiated. The second reason is that choosing It's a duty and a pleasure." "I agree with you, Sabba," said Yossi, whose
silverware is not an act of borair but is rather related to eating. The lieutenant-colonel bars adorned his shoulder. "I, too, devote my life to the
second reason implies that borair does not apply if the silverware will be Land and I am happy."
immediately used for eating (see Shevitat Shabbat, Borair, 26). Yavia "What are you so happy about?" asked Yochanan. “I sit in an air-
Omer (5:32) and Tzitz Eliezer (12:35) both write that the first reason conditioned office from 9:00 to 5:00 and have frequent vacations. You
above is correct, and that there is no prohibition at all for such items. run around after terrorists, crawl through thorns, go to sleep at midnight,
Yavia Omer suggests another reason to allow sorting silverware, in get up at 3:00 A.M. and in the middle you get woken three times.
that the Pri Megadim writes that sorting does not violate the laws of Sabbaths and holidays are nonexistent for you…" “Cut it out. I'm happy,
borair. He allows one to choose utensils for the next meal, even if it will because I know that I am defending the people and the Land, as well as
only take place many hours later. the glory of Israel, what the religious call… what they call…" "Kiddush
On the other hand, many recent rabbis are more stringent, following Hashem, the sanctification of G-d's name," said Rav Aharon. "Yeah,
the Mishna Berura (319:15), including Igrot Moshe (Orach Chaim 4, 74) that's it. Kiddush Hashem. Look, I'm very happy. Thanks to me and to my
who applies the prohibition to books, and Shemirat Shabbat K'Hilchata soldiers you're able to sit here quietly in your air-conditioned office,
(chapter 3), who includes various items, such as silverware. talking all you want about money, money, money…"
In practice: It is commonly accepted that borair applies to non-food "Now just wait a second! I'm just money, money, money?" Didn't I
items, such as clothing, silverware, and books. But even for these items just complete a month of reserve duty as a volunteer? Didn't I help out
one can be lenient if they were not mixed together. In future articles, we Sabba for two weeks with his harvest? I just know one thing: Without
will discuss the definition of a "mixture" and its halachic consequences. money we don't have a thing – not an army nor education nor a kibbutz
nor Rav Aharon's yeshiva! How fortunate we are that we have a well-to-
do country, but money doesn't grow on trees. It requires planning. It
2 - MACHON MEIR
MACHON MEIR http://www.machonmeir.org.il/english/main_id.asp?leng=English&len_id=2
"And where does the money go?" Nadav interjected. "There are so
FROM THE WORLD OF RABBI AVRAHAM KOOK many poor people who have nothing. This country is very beautiful, but
“The longing to plant, to settle the world, is an expression of man’s for me it's just a means, so that we can build a just society here, a
inner longing to be good to all.” (Megged Yerachim, Shevat) society of integrity, of brotherhood." "And do you think there's no justice
MESSAGE FOR TODAY: The Shira – A Song of in our country as it is?" asked Sabba Eliezer. "Not enough. It needs a lot
Victory of improvements. That's what it say in your Bible, Rav Aharon, that
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir Abraham was chosen in order that his seed should perform deeds of
Shirat Hayam, the Shira, the song sung at the sea, is the song of the charity and justice."
victory of the Jewish People in every generation – from the Exodus and "My Bible? It's EVERYONE's Bible," pointed out Rav Aharon. "Is that
the Splitting of the Sea until the end of days, as it says: "Moses and the all you have to say?" asked Yossi. "You're sitting there quietly the whole
Israelites then sang this song to G-d. It went: I will sing to G-d for His time, the family pietist."
great victory, horse and rider He threw in the sea…. With love, You led "I'm here because it's a mitzvah, even a great mitzvah," answered
the people You redeemed; With might, You led them to Your holy Rav Aharon. "And in your view, the rest of us are NOT doing a
shrine…. O bring them and plant them on the mount You possess. The mitzvah?" "Hmmm… You are doing one, you're just not aware of it…."
place You dwell in Is Your accomplishment, God. The shrine of God Your "We're not aware? I lie in wait to conduct a military ambush and I don't
Hands have founded." (Exodus 15:1,13,17) know it's a mitzvah?" wondered Yossi. "Enough! Enough! Please don't
Indeed, for thousands of years, joyfully, Israel have daily sung the fight!" said Sabba Eliezer. "You're all sweet, just like these fruits are
Shira, the song of victory, in the early part of morning prayers, as Jewish sweet. Just like this land is sweet… We are one family and a lot of
Law rules: "The Shira must be sung joyfully. One should imagine that he brothers. Each one has his talents, each one has his special mission,
himself had crossed the sea that very day. If someone recites it joyfully, each one fulfilling through his life a particular trait of the entire Jewish
he will be forgiven for all his sins" (Orach Chaim 51:42:17). People."
Despite the great victory over Pharaoh and his army, Amalek dared "TRIUMPHANTLY PROUD"
to attack Israel with the goal of humiliating and even destroying them, as Rabbi Azriel Ariel - Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir
it says, "Amalek came and fought Israel at Rephidim" (Exodus 17:8). One of the most remarkable expressions from Moses's song at the
From then until today, we have a long score to settle and a war to fight in sea, if not the most remarkable, is his reference to G-d's pride: " I will
every generation against Amalek. As it says, "Write this as a reminder in sing to G-d for He was triumphantly proud, horse and rider He threw in
the Book and repeat it carefully to Joshua. I will totally obliterate the the sea" (Exodus 15:1). Miriam as well, when she once more sings the
memory of Amalek from under the heavens…. 'The Hand is on G-d's song with all the woman, repeats the words, "Sing to G-d, for He is
Throne. G-d shall be at war with Amalek for all generations" (17:14,16). triumphantly proud" (15:21). During the original song, as well, the theme
The war against Amalek, whose goal was to eradicate Israel, is repeated more than once: " In Your great pride You broke Your
continues and shall continue until we merit complete salvation. As opponents. You sent forth Your wrath. It devoured them like straw"
Rambam ruled: "Israel were commanded with three mitzvoth as they (verse 7).
entered the Land – to appoint themselves a king; to wipe out the seed of It is hard for us to fathom this. In our world, there is no trait more
Amalek, and to build the Temple" (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 1:1). loathsome than pride. Our sages were not kind in their references to
Throughout the generations enemies of Israel have risen up from people smitten with this despicable trait, even saying, "He is worthy to be
Amalek's seed, with the intent of destroying the Jewish People. During cut down like an Ashera [a tree used for idolatry]." How can we possibly
the First Temple Period this occurred in the days of Saul and David; at associate such an illegitimate trait to G-d?
the end of the Babylonian exile there was wicked Haman; and in our own We must therefore take a deeper look at the philosophical foundation
generation, the generation of rebirth, there was Hitler and his of ga'ava, pride. Pride does not refer to a person recognizing his abilities
collaborators, who murdered a third of our people just because we are and talents. That characteristic, which today is called "having a high self-
Jews. concept", has nothing wrong with it, as long as someone recognizes
Today as well Israel's enemies are rearing their heads and planning oneself as he truly is, with all his good and bad qualities. Also what is
to destroy the State of Israel. True, they are claiming that we conquered called "self-esteem" is all right. If someone feels that his life is entirely
their land, but that is false. They are making use of this falsehood in worthless and he feels that he has no right to live on this earth, what that
order to achieve their aim – the destruction of the Jewish People. It is no person has is not called "humility". He should be referred for
coincidence that they are vociferously opposed to the State of Israel as a psychological treatment immediately…
Jewish State. Yet everything I have said is true on one condition, that a person's
We must pray that those who hold the reins of statehood will open feeling of self-worth should be based on what about him that is truly
their eyes and they will understand what the aims and goals of the Arabs worthy. If someone derives his feeling of self-worth from the fact that he
really are. We must pray that our leaders will not fool themselves and the was created in G-d's image, then his worth is almost infinite (in line with
Jewish People into thinking that establishing a state for the Arabs in the verse, "You made him just short of the angels" – Psalm 8:6). Such a
heart of our land will bring peace and tranquility to our people. We know person does not base his worth on his accomplishments nor on his
that just as all of Israel's enemies have suffered defeat, they, too, will talents or the circumstances of his life. This being the case, he has not
suffer defeat, and through them will be fulfilled: 'The Hand is on G-d's need to inflate his accomplishment or talents beyond what they really are
Throne. G-d shall be at war with Amalek for all generations.… Fear and in order to feel self-worth. Certainly that person will have no need to feel
dread fell upon them… Until Your people crossed, O G-d…. O bring that he is better than his fellow man in order to feel importance. The
them and plant them on the mount You possess. The place You dwell in value of his life is guaranteed by the very fact of being a person with a
is Your accomplishment, G-d. The shrine of G-d Your Hands have divine soul within him, a person created by G-d.
founded." (15:14,16-17) All this applies on the human level. G-d, Himself, however, has what
WE HAVE STRANGE FRUITS IN THIS COUNTRY… to be proud about. His worth does indeed derive from Himself, from the
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El very fact of His being the Infinite Divine. He, Himself,
constitutes absolute worth, absolute value, and everything else of worth trees, which according to the Academy of Hillel is the 15th of Shvat (Tu
derives its worthiness from Him. This divine pride is real and it has no b’Shvat), is the cut-off date for the giving of tithes for that year, in effect,
connection to the false pride of man. Therefore, we "sing to G-d for He is the Jewish Dec. 31st for the purposes of paying taxes, as it were, on our
triumphantly proud." G-d deserves to be prideful. fruits. But this has nothing to do with planting trees?! And what was
originally thought to have been the significance of the fifteenth of Shvat?
According to R. Eleazar ben Oshaia, by the time Shvat arrives, the
3 - NCYI
NCYI Weekly Divrei Torah, From: http://www.youngisrael.org/
majority of the rains have already fallen, and from an Israeli agricultural
Michael Miller Chief Financial Officer, NCYI perspective the essence of winter is rain. (B.T. Rosh Hashanah 14a).
The prelude to the song of the Yam Suf reports the impact of this Hence Tu B’Shvat signals the end of the major part of the winter when
spectacular event on the Israelites as (Ex 14:31), ".They believed in G-d we can begin to look forward to the next season of spring. And since the
and in Moses, His servant." love song between G-d and Israel, Song of Songs, is replete with
What was it that they came to believe at that moment? The Maharal references to the spring as symbolizing the beginning of our redemption,
of Prague (Gevuros Hashem, Ch. 47) explains that they now realized our engagement to the Divine, it is no wonder that we find in a collection
that Hashem is an omnipotent G-d who could do as He wishes, and that of Ashkenazic customs, published in 1590 by Simon ben Yehuda Halevi
He works through His agent, Moses. Ginsberg, an early record that special fruits associated with the land of
As wondrous as the miracles they had witnessed earlier were, this Israel were eaten on Tu B’Shvat in order to strengthen the relationship
one did not involve an individual river (like the Nile), but the sea itself, between the Jews in the Exile and the land of their eventual redemption.
one of the very building blocks of creation. Only an all-powerful G-d could Similarly, in the 16th century work of Safed Kabbalists, Pri Etz Hadar,
have accomplished this. Later, (Josh. 2:10), we find that hearing about we find recorded a unique ceremony centered around the drinking of four
this act was what most impressed Rachav and the people of Jericho. goblets of wine on Tu b’Shvat — an end of winter seder. First, a cup of
Furthermore, G-d transformed something into its total opposite, the white wine; then a mixture of mostly white and some red wine; third, a
sea into dry land, an ability possessed only by the Master of the cup of mostly red and a little white and, finally, a cup of only red wine.
Universe. Unlike other cultures, who worshipped localized deities with This custom of creating a rainbow from white to red was intended to
specific powers, we believe in a G-d of all-encompassing power. evoke the unique spring in the land of Israel, where the first flowers that
Actually, the Torah declares three times that Israel "believed" (Ex. blossom are almond buds, a vast spread of white loveliness always
4:31, 14:31 and 17:9). Each instance represents a cardinal principle of appearing very close to the 15th of Shvat. Soon, other flowers blossom
faith: (1) G-d watches over us earthly beings, and has not abandoned His and the colors change, but the final splash in the fields belongs to the
involvement in worldly affairs. (2) There is nothing in existence that is brilliant red anemones, kalaniyot in Hebrew, dotting the landscape
outside of His domain. (3) G-d communicated directly with us to give us wherever the hills and valleys are wild and free. And, in order to
His Torah. The Exodus cemented each of these cornerstones of faith. strengthen the tie with Israel to an even greater degree, a custom
When Moses first came to redeem Israel from Egypt, the nation emerged of eating the different fruits with which the land of Israel is
affirmed their faith that G-d observed their plight, and would take care of blessed within the Tu B’Shvat seder between the cups of wine: grapes,
His people. At Yam Suf, they accepted the second principle that G-d is figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (Deut.8:8).
all-powerful and can do anything. Finally, at Sinai, they believed in G-d During the years of the Second Aliyah, the religious lovers of Zion
and His Torah, the third principle. realized that yearning from a distance was not enough. More needed to
Any skepticism regarding these principles undermines the entire faith be done, a kinyan (purchase) had to be made. We dare not be satisfied
structure. R. Yirmiya b. Elazar (Eruv. 19a) warned about three portals to with praying (or distance eating) alone; if we truly care about Israel, we
Gehinnom (Purgatory), one in the sea, one in the desert and one in must acquire a real relationship with the land. And what better way can
Jerusalem. The Maharal explains that each portal is a trapdoor for this be done than by the planting of trees?
nonbelievers of the three core beliefs. How fitting it is that this week’s portion, Beshalach – the Biblical
Pharaoh scoffed at G-d's power, so he met his end in the sea, in the reading which deals with the splitting of the Reed Sea – generally
ultimate demonstration of that power. (Jonah thought he could escape corresponds to the week in which we celebrate Tu B’Shvat.
his mission in the sea, a lesser weakness of faith, so he had to learn his Moses cried out to the people: “Stand firm and you will see what G-d
lesson there.) will do to rescue you today .... G-d will fight for you, but you must remain
The desert is where the Torah was given at Sinai. Korach rejected silent.” G-d, on the other hand, disagreed. “Why do you cry out before
the idea that it was G-d given, and was swallowed up by the portal in the me? Speak to the Israelites that they start moving” (Exodus 14:13-15)
desert. Rashi (ad loc) even goes so far as to say, “This is not the time to pray
Jerusalem represents the place and the nation on which G-d lavishes extensively; this is the time to act,” to ‘start moving’.”
special attention. Sancheriv disbelieved this and threatened Jerusalem, Hence, our way of celebrating the dream of Jewish redemption is by
so that is where he met his miraculous downfall. planting trees in the soil of our homeland” And when the Bible tells us
Isn't there actually a fourth cardinal tenet, asks the Maharal, that our Patriarch Isaac, the one patriarch who never left the land of
retribution for the wicked after death? Israel and therefore is most identified with the land, “went out la’suah in
Rather, he argues, this tenet is really a corollary to the first principle, the fields” (Gen 24:63) when he was anticipating his first meeting with
that G-d watches over us and has not abandoned us. There are places Rebecca, his betrothed. The Hebrew word “siah” can mean conversation,
on earth that are especially elevated stations of holiness. The prime and therefore most commentaries explain that he was praying with G-d in
example of this is the Temple, which is called G-d's footstool (Lam. 2:1). the fields (Rashi, ad loc), or it can mean shrub, and so the s’forno
The earthly Temple also has a heavenly counterpart (Mechilta, suggests that he was planting in the fields. Perhaps both are correct:
Beshalach 9). planting in the land of Israel is the best expression of prayer to bring
Similarly, there are stations of lowliness, such as the Valley of about our redemption!
Hinnom outside Jerusalem. There are reportedly two palm trees in this
valley, between which is a rising column of smoke. As the saying goes,
"Where there's smoke, there's fire." This is a portal to its other-worldly
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counterpart, Gehinnom. A). RAV FRAND (Rabbi Yissocher Frand)
For those heretics who refuse to believe that the souls of the wicked RavFrand, Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yissocher Frand and Torah.org.
receive punishment after death, Jerusalem is the trapdoor to Purgatory, DON'T SQUANDER IT
for it symbolizes G-d's watchfulness over us. It would be illogical for G-d Rav Zevulen Groz was a student of the Alter of Slabodka in the
to observe evil and not hold it accountable. Slabodka Yeshiva in Europe. He subsequently made Aliyah and became
Furthermore, these principles are not merely concepts for study. The a Rav in Rechovot. Rav Groz writes that when he first went to Yeshiva,
Maharal observes that our three major festivals, the shalosh regalim, his father sat him down and read him the following Medrash from our
correspond to and embody these three articles of faith. Passover stands parsha:
for G-d's omnipotence, culminating at the Yam Suf, Shavuos, for the "Vayehi B'Shalach Pharaoh es ha'am" [And it was when Pharaoh
giving of the Torah, and Sukkos symbolizes G-d's continued protection of sent out the nation]. [Shmos 13:17]. The Talmud states that a pasuk
Israel. introduced by the word "Vayehi" always connotes pain and suffering. The
word "vayehi" is etymologically related to the word "vay" meaning "woe."
4 – RAV RISKIN
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin http://www.ohrtorahstone.org.il/
The Medrash compares Pharaoh's plight to a fellow who found a
satchel of precious stones, but who didn't know what was inside it. He
Efrat, Israel – It was February 1981, and we had just celebrated the asked a stranger, "Would you like to take this packet I have in my hand?
Take it. It's yours!" The stranger took it, opened it up and found
laying of the cornerstone for the first buildings - a mikveh (ritualarium) diamonds inside. He began separating the diamonds into small, medium,
and Yeshiva building (Neveh Shmuel High School for boys) on the empty
hill of land slated to be the newly emerging city of Efrat. The area was and large size stones. He set up shop and started selling them at various
prices depending on their size. The person who originally gave him the
verdant with trees and grapevines, and as the brilliant winter sun spread satchel came by the shop and saw that the small diamonds were being
its golden hue over the majestic hill, I truly felt as though we were being
warmly embraced by the loving Shekhina above. sold for $10,000, the middle size diamonds for $50,000, and the larger
diamonds were selling for $100,000! When he saw what was happening
That day we planted trees — and with the planting, there were and understood what he gave up, he tore his clothes in mourning. "I had
blessings. It was the 15th of Shvat (Tu b’Shvat), the one day of the
Jewish year when almost every school child in Israel gets down on his or all this wealth in my hands and I let it slip through, without gaining
anything in return! Woe is me!"
her hands and knees and plants. It was, for us, an extremely moving The Medrash compares Pharaoh to the man who gave away the
moment: taking a young sapling by the hand, clearing some earth and
freeing the roots of the young plant to make sure that when we placed it diamonds. The diamonds are the nation of Israel that was in his hands.
When Pharaoh saw the great numbers of Jews that Moshe was taking
into the soil it would merge with the very soil which hid in its recesses out, he called out "Woe (vay)!" It is with these words our Parsha begins:
Jewish memories which were thousands of years old.
But why should Tu b’Shvat have become almost syn¬onymous with When Pharaoh sent out the people he cried out, "Woe is me. Look what I
planting? The first Mishna in Rosh HaShana speaks of four different The father of Rav Reuven Groz asked his son a question on this
“NewYears,” with the First of Tishrei being the New Year for the
reckoning of years and for the planting of trees! The New Year for fruit Medrash. How does the story of Pharaoh compare to the story in the
parable? There is no analogy whatsoever. Pharaoh did not
give anything away. He was forced by the Ten Plagues to let the Jews There are periods in a person's life when the future looks bleak and
go! His arm was twisted until he said "Uncle!" things look miserable all around. "What will be?" But the salvation of the
The father of Rav Reuven Groz explained to his son that the L-rd comes in the blink of an eye! The Almighty is already "running the
Medrash does not mean that Pharaoh was saying "woe" that he had to sap" so to speak so that salvation may come. For this reason Tu B'Shvat
let the people go. That was not up to him. Pharaoh was saying that when is celebrated in the dead of winter.
he realized what Klal Yisrael was, he said, "I had such a people among It states in Parshas B'Shalach "They came to Marah and they could
me and look what I made them do!" not drink the water, for it was bitter." [Shmos 15:23] Hashem then
Consider a person who hires a worker and doesn't know that this showed Moshe a tree and told him t o throw it into the water. Why a tree?
worker is a genius, a Nobel laureate, or a virtuoso violinist, and makes Why not a rock or a piece of dirt?
him the janitor. He has him cleaning floors for years and years. The symbolism is as we said before. The people felt hopeless. They
Suddenly, he discovers that he could have booked this worker in great were a couple of million people in the desert with no food or water. The
concert halls throughout the world. He could have made a fortune off of natural reaction was: "What is going to be? How are we going to live?
him! "For such a person, I paid minimum wage to sweep floors?" What will be our future?"
Pharaoh felt the same way. He said, "I was an idiot! I had a Klal At that point, Hashem showed them a tree. The tree is the symbol
Yisrael and I made them build pyramids! I enslaved them. How fooli sh of that when all looks futile and bleak, desolate and destroyed, we see that
me. What a waste of talent all those years!" Concerning this he moaned the situation can turn around. Rebirth happens! There can be
"Woe unto me. I did not appreciate what I had when I had it." renaissance and renewal. Throwing the tree into the water was meant as
This ends the Medrash. What does it have to do with Zevulen Groz a message to the people: "Don't give up. Don't worry about the desert.
going off to Yeshiva? Going to Yeshiva is an opportunity that is like a Things look bleak now but the salvation of the L-rd comes in the blink of
treasure. As I constantly say -– and I have a folder full of letters from an eye."
former students who will attest to this -– everyone says after they leave B). WEEKLY HALACHA(Rabbi Doniel Neustadt)
the Beis HaMedrash that they did not appreciate what they had while
they had it. Young boys fail to realize that their years in Yeshiva are
numbered. It is an idyllic situation. Their physical needs are taken care
of. Their parents pay the bills. They do not need to worry about holding 6 - HAR ETZION (VBM)
Virtual Beit Midrash, Alon Shevut, Gush Etzion 90433 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
down a job. Baruch Hashem, most of the time, they do not need to worry Home Page: http://www.vbm-torah.org/
about their wife or children or some family member being sick. The only A) INTRODUCTION TO PARSHAT HASHEVUAH
thing they need to do is to learn and to grow as a Jew.
When one has that opportunity and does not take advantage of it t o
its fullest advantage, he may one day have the same reaction as the B) INDEPTH PARSHAT SHEVUAH
fellow in the Medrash who gave away the packet of diamonds or like SPLITTING THE RED SEA
Pharaoh at the beginning of the parsha: "Look what I had in my Rav Yehuda Rock
possession and I gave it away! I squandered it." The account of the splitting of the sea, as it appears in this week's
This is perhaps the most important thing that a father can tell his son parasha, has two different themes, such that two separate narratives are
when he goes off to Yeshiva. I always say this to my current students, actually woven into the same account. A review of the various internal
based on generations of students who have come and gone: "Don't contradictions and repetitions within the account will assist us in
squander the opportunity while you have it. Your days are numbered." distinguishing and separating the two intertwined themes.
REMEMBERING THE EXODUS Although the opening verses of the parasha contain elements of the
We say in our prayers (in the paragraph preceding the morning two themes, and the Song of the Sea reflects some of their ramifications,
Shmoneh Esrei), "From Egypt you have redeemed us; from the house of we shall not address them in this shiur. Our discussion will be limited to
slavery you have brought us forth; all their first-born you killed; and the the main part of the story – i.e., chapter 14 (leaving out the two verses of
Reed Sea you split." This is a fulfillment of the halacha requiring us to summary at the end of the chapter).
mention the Exodus during the daily morning prayer. Let us first review the opening verses of the chapter:
However, the sequence appears to be incorrect. The killing of the God spoke to Moshe, saying:
first-born should have been mentioned first. Only after that event took Speak to Bnei Yisrael, that they should go back and encamp before
place were we able to move on to the next phase: "From Egypt you have Pi Ha-chirot, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Ba'al Tzefon;
redeemed us; from the house of slavery you have brought us forth." before it shall you encamp at the sea.
This question is strengthened when we look at the narration of the And Pharaoh will say of Bnei Yisrael: They are lost in the land; the
Exodus mentioned in the evening prayer. In Ma'ariv we say: "who smote desert has closed them in.
with His Anger all the first born of Egypt; who took His nation Israel out And I shall harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue after them,
from their midst for eternal freedom." There, the sequence is correct. and I shall gain honor through Pharaoh and through all of his host,
Another question may be raised. In Shachris, we say the first-bor n and Egypt will know that I am the Lord.
were killed (haragta). In Ma'ariv we only say they were smitten (haMakeh And they did so. (1-4)
es bechoreihem). Why the difference? God presents His plan to Moshe: Bnei Yisrael will encamp at the sea,
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l, addresses both of these issues: such that it will appear to Pharaoh that they have lost their way and have
It says in the beginning of Tractate Semachos: "And it was in the middle no way of proceeding. I, God, will strengthen Pharaoh's tendency to
of the night, Hashem smote every firstborn in the Land of Egypt" [Shmos exploit Bnei Yisrael's distress, and he will pursue them. The purpose of
12:29]. Rabbi Yochanan states: Even though He smote them a fatal this scheme is to punish Pharaoh and his army, and thus the Egyptians
blow, from midnight their souls fluttered within them (e.g. – they lingered will learn to fear God.
on) until morning." The splitting of the sea is depicted here as a staged production
The Almighty wanted Klal Yisrael to see the plague of the first-born. whose outcome is known in advance. In fact, Bnei Yisrael are, at no
The Jews were forbidden to leave their homes until morning [Shmos stage, in any danger. The splitting of the sea is not God's response to an
12:22]. Had the first-born children died at midnight when the plague unexpected threat; rather, He plans it all in advance and even reveals
struck, the Jews would not have witnessed their death. Therefore, His plan to Moshe.
according to Rav Yochanan, although they were struck at midnight, the Let us now move on to the stage where Bnei Yisrael are standing at
first-borns lingered until morning and only then did they expire. the sea and God instructs Moshe to split it:
In the night-time prayer, we say "who smote in His Anger the first- God said to Moshe: Why are you crying out to Me? Speak to Bnei
born of Eg ypt" because at night they did not yet die. In the morning Yisrael, and let them journey on!
prayer, we first mention the redemption because the Jews went out from As for you – lift up your staff, and stretch your arm over the sea and
Egypt in the morning. Then we say: "all the first-born You killed" because divide it, so that Bnei Yisrael can proceed on dry ground in the midst
it was then -- at the time that the Jews were leaving Egypt -- that these of the sea.
first-born (who were smitten the previous midnight) died. And I – behold, I will harden the heart of the Egyptians, and they will
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN TU B'SHVAT AND PARSHAS follow them, and I will gain honor through Pharaoh and through all of
B'SHALACH his hosts, through his chariots and through his horsemen.
Parshas B'Shalach / Shabbos Shirah always comes out near the And Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor
holiday of Tu B'Shvat. What is the relationship between the 15th day of through Pharaoh and through all of his hosts, through his chariots,
Shvat -- the "New Year of Trees," and this week's parsha? and through his horsemen. (15-18)
The book Ziv HaMinhagim gives a beautiful explanation of this Seemingly, Moshe cries out to God in the face of the danger that
linkage. Tu B'Shvat is the Rosh HaShanah of trees. Look outside today now confronts them, and God answers that he should part the sea; and
and gaze at the trees. They appear deader than door nails! Is this the God will harden Pharaoh's heart, and will punish the Egyptians. The
time to celebrate "The New Year for Trees?" There is not a leaf to be same expressions that were used at the beginning of the chapter are
seen. It would seem more appropriate to celebrate "Tu B'Shvat" in the repeated here, but our impression here is that Moshe is not aware of
springtime when the trees are in full bloom -- April or May. what is about to happen. Thus, we are faced with an apparent
The answer is that the trees LOOK dead. They LOOK like they will contradiction: on one hand, the beginning of the chapter (1-4) describes
never see another green leaf in their existence. But right now the sap is a plan set and described in advance to Moshe; on the other hand, verses
beginning to run within them. If one travels up to Vermont –- the Maple 15-18 paint a picture of Moshe crying out in his anguish to God, and then
syrup capital of the world -– he will find Vermonters dressed up in being answered with a new Divine plan – which turns out to be identical
earmuffs boring holes in trees to extract the sap from the maple trees. to the one described previously!
This is the time of the year when the sap is flowing within the trees. The There are further contradictions and repetitions in this chapter. The
leaves and the beauty of the fruits that the trees will produce in the spring following are some of them:
and summer are all being prepared right now, in the dead of winter. · In verse 4, following God's command and His description of the
The trees represent the idea that even when something looks terribly plan, the text states: "And they did so." In other words, they fulfilled
bleak and looks like it has no future, one should not give up on it. One His command and encamped at the sea, at the exact spot that God
should not give up on the trees when they look like that, and one should had specified. Thus, they have already left Egypt, and at this stage
not give up on oneself when things look like that for him. have already managed to encamp at the edge of the wilderness
(see also above, 13:20). However, from later on, in verse 8, it would
seem that only then do they leave Egypt: "And he pursued after (12) Is this not the thing of which we spoke to you in Egypt, saying:
Bnei Yisrael, and Bnei Yisrael went out with a high hand." Leave us alone, and we shall serve the Egyptians – for it is better for
· In verse 5 we read, "The heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!
turned against the nation, and they said: What is this that we have (13) And Moshe said to the nation: Do not fear; stand still and see
done, for we have let Bnei Yisrael go from serving us. And he God's salvation, which He will perform for you this day. For as you
readied his chariot…." In other words, in order for Pharaoh to have seen Egypt this day, you will never see them thus again.
pursue Bnei Yisrael there was actually no need to harden his heart; (14) God will fight for you, and you will remain silent.
he was ready to pursue them of his own initiative. Immediately (15) And God said to Moshe: Why are you crying out to Me? Speak
afterwards, though, we read (8): "And God hardened the heart of to Bnei Yisrael, and let them journey on!
Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he went after Bnei Yisrael…." This (16) As for you – lift up your staff, and stretch your arm over the sea
would seem to suggest that there was indeed a need for some and part it, so that Bnei Yisrael can proceed on dry ground in the
hardening of his heart. midst of the sea.
· The actual pursuit is described twice (8-9): "And he pursued Bnei (17) And I – behold, I will harden the heart of the Egyptians, and they
Yisrael… and the Egyptians pursued them." will follow them, and I will gain honor through Pharaoh and through
· In verse 9 we find: "They reached (va-yasigu) them as they all of his host, through his chariots and through his horsemen.
encamped at the sea" – i.e., they caught up with them. But then, in (18) And Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained
verse 10, we are told, "Pharaoh drew near" – in other words, he honor through Pharaoh and through all of his host, through his
came closer, but did not actually catch up with them. chariots, and through his horsemen.
· In verse 13, Moshe tells the nation: "Stand still and see God's Henceforth, the aspect to which verses 1-4 belong will be called
salvation." But immediately afterwards, God tells Moshe: "Speak to aspect I. Verses 15-18 belong to aspect II.
Bnei Yisrael, that they should journey on." Let us now look at verse 5: "It was told to the king of Egypt that the
· After verse 23 describes the Egyptians entering the sea in pursuit nation had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants turned…."
of Bnei Yisrael, we read in verse 27: "The sea returned to its Here, Pharaoh is described as regretting his decision to let the people go
strength towards morning, and the Egyptians fled towards it." If they and as deciding, on his own initiative, to set off in pursuit – in contrast to
were already inside the sea, how could they "flee towards" it? verse 8 (at least, the first part of it) which describes God as hardening his
There are more questions, and they will be treated in the course of heart. Verse 8, then, describes the realization of the Divine plan set out
our discussion. in verses 1-4. Hence, we shall categorize the first part of verse 8 as
Apparently, the solution to all of these contradictions lies in the belonging to aspect I, while verse 5 belongs to aspect II.
distinction between the two separate themes, narratives, or "aspects" Verses 6-7 are a direct continuation of verse 5 (aspect II), and it
that are interwoven into this account. Once again we shall rely on the clearly would make no sense for them to be followed by God hardening
exegetical methodology known as "shitat ha-bechinot" which was Pharaoh's heart, in verse 8 (aspect I). Therefore, verses 5-7 are a single
developed by Rav Mordekhai Breuer. By delving into the difficulties unit belonging to aspect II.
that arise from the joining together of the two aspects – such as Thus, in aspect I, God speaks and then fulfills His words. Following
repetitions or contradictions – we are able to expose the two independent His command concerning His plan, Bnei Yisrael carry out their part of the
"aspects," and thereafter to explore their significance. Here, we apply this plan ("And they did so" – verse 4): they encamp at the specified place,
methodology to the story of the splitting of the sea. (It should be pointed and God then does what He promised to do – He hardens Pharaoh's
out that Rav Breuer himself proposed a division of the chapter into two heart (8). In aspect II, the narrative begins not with a Divine initiative, but
"aspects," but the division proposed here is a different one.) rather with a process initiated by the Egyptians, who regret having let
The key to distinguishing the two "aspects" in our chapter lies in the Bnei Yisrael go.
very first contradiction that we discussed above. From one perspective, Verse 8 contains two parts. 8(a): "And God hardened the heart of
the entire event of the splitting of the sea is a production that is planned Pharaoh, king of Egypt"; 8(b): "And he pursued after Bnei Yisrael, and
in advance, with a view to teaching the Egyptians a lesson: "Then Egypt Bnei Yisrael went out with a high hand." These are two separate clauses,
will know that I am the Lord." This is the aspect with which the chapter each of which needs to be categorized. We have already concluded that
begins (1-4). Verses 15-18 belong to the other aspect. From this 8(a) belongs to aspect I.
perspective, Bnei Yisrael were on their way out of Egypt when Pharaoh 8(b) describes Bnei Yisrael leaving Egypt now, at this stage of the
decided to pursue them, and Bnei Yisrael were suddenly in trouble. It story. In 8(a), by this stage they are already encamped at the sea.
was only at this stage that God decided to save them by splitting the sea, Therefore, 8(b) must belong to aspect II.
and by hardening Pharaoh's heart so that he would enter the sea after The first part of verse 9 – "The Egyptians pursued them" – is a
them. The main purpose of the splitting of the sea, according to this repetition of 8(b). Both describe the Egyptians pursuing Bnei Yisrael, and
aspect, was not to teaching the Egyptians about God, but rather to save seemingly there is no need for 9(a) after we have read 8(b). Therefore
Bnei Yisrael. The story here is not another episode in the ongoing battle 9(a) must be part of a different perspective on the story – aspect I.
between God and Egypt, but rather falls under the heading of the The difference between the two accounts of the pursuit is clear. In
relationship between God and Israel. aspect II, which comes to tell us about God's deliverance of Bnei Yisrael
The second aspect, too, adds that Egypt will learn that "I am the from the threat that faces them, emphasizes the great danger by
Lord." In this aspect, Egypt knowing that "I am the Lord" is secondary depicting the Egyptians as setting off in pursuit immediately with Bnei
objective, which arises only in the wake of the fact that the Egyptians Yisrael's departure. Bnei Yisrael leave, and the Egyptians are already on
pursue Bnei Yisrael up to the sea. This idea is suggested by the wording their heels. In aspect I, in contrast, it is the Divine plan that is highlighted:
of the verse: "Eygpt will know that I am the Lord, when I am honored only after Bnei Yisrael are already stationed at the place designated for
through Pharaoh" (18). This knowledge is not the purpose of God being the purposes of the continued realization of the plan, only when
honored through Pharaoh; rather, the knowledge will be a positive result everything is in place, does God harden Pharaoh's heart, such that he
of God being honored through him. In verse 4, in contrast, as part of the sets off in pursuit.
first aspect, the words "Egypt will know that I am the Lord" are the 9(b) – "They reached them as they were encamped at the sea, all of
concluding words of the plan, its ultimate aim. Pharaoh's horses and his horsemen and his host, at Pi Ha-chirot, in front
Now we need to systematically divide the other verses of our chapter of Ba'al Tzefon" – describes Bnei Yisrael as already camped at the sea,
between the two aspects, in accordance with the various repetitions and at the exact place specified earlier, in verse 2 (aspect I). We therefore
contradictions that arise. Let us examine the first part of the chapter conclude that 9(b) also belongs to aspect I, and thus the whole verse
(verses 1-18): belongs together.
(1) God spoke to Moshe, saying: The first part of verse 10 – "And Pharaoh drew near, and Bnei
(2) Speak to Bnei Yisrael, that they should go back and encamp Yisrael lifted their eyes, and behold – the Egyptians were coming after
before Pi Ha-chirot, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Ba'al them" – contradicts verse 9 (aspect I), which described the Egyptians as
Tzefon. Before it shall you encamp at the sea. already having caught up with Bnei Yisrael. Here, Pharaoh is only
(3) And Pharaoh will say of Bnei Yisrael: They are lost in the land; "drawing near" – but not yet up to where they are. Hence, 10(a) belongs
the desert has closed them in. to aspect II. Further proof for this categorization lies in the expression
(4) And I shall harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue after them, "coming after them" – implying that Bnei Yisrael are also on the move,
and I shall gain honor through Pharaoh and through all of his hosts, rather than being "encamped" – i.e., stationary, as depicted in aspect I.
and Egypt will know that I am the Lord. As for 10(b), it becomes easier to classify if we take a look further on,
And they did so. at verse 15, which we have already marked as aspect II. In verse 15 we
(5) And it was told to the king of Egypt that the nation had fled, and read: "God said to Moshe: Why are you crying out to Me?" Hence, we
the heart of Pharaoh and his servants turned against the nation, and deduce that Moshe was crying out to God. If we search the preceding
they said: What is this that we have done? For we have let Israel go verses to see where this is noted, we find that there is no explicit mention
from serving us. of him crying out. We must therefore conclude that his cry is included
(6) And he readied his chariot, and took his people with him. along with the cry of Bnei Yisrael in 10(b): "Bnei Yisrael cried out to
(7) And he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of God." In response to this cry of Bnei Yisrael – and Moshe in their midst,
Egypt, and captains over all of them. God tells Moshe: "Why are you crying out to Me?" Therefore, verse 10(b)
(8) And God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he is necessary in order for verse 15 (aspect II) to be intelligible. Hence
pursued Bnei Yisrael, and Bnei Yisrael went out with a high hand. aspect II must include 10(b).
(9) And the Egyptians pursued them, and they caught up with them Verses 10 and 11 describe very different reactions on the part of
as they encamped by the sea – all the horses and chariots of Bnei Yisrael to the danger that faces them. In verse 10, they cry out to
Pharaoh and his horsemen, and his host – at Pi Ha-chirot, in front of God. This is a positive and desirable reaction: the positive function of
Ba'al Tzefon. danger is to bring a person to pray to God. In contrast, verses 11-12 go
(10) And Pharaoh drew near, and Bnei Yisrael lifted their eyes, and on to describe Bnei Yisrael complaining. Their words here sound like a
behold – the Egyptians were coming after them. prelude to the sort of complaints which, in Sefer Bamidbar, cause God to
(11) And they said to Moshe: "Was it for lack of graves in Egypt that become angry with the nation and to punish them. Chazal resolve the
you have brought us to die in the wilderness? What is this that you seeming contradiction between the two behaviors – praying to God,
have done to us, in taking us out of Egypt? complaining – by that Bnei Yisrael were divided into groups, or sectors,
each with its own response to the situation. However, the
verses themselves contain no hint of such factionalism. It is possible that hand over the sea, and part it." However, the command suggests that the
the actual, real-time intermingling of the two aspects did lead to different parting of the water will be the direct and immediately result of Moshe
reactions on the part of different groups of people, but on the level of the raising his hand over the sea, while in verse 21 the description of the
literal text we are left with widely disparate descriptions, and it is logical "strong east wind all night" comes in between. The description itself
to conclude that they represent two different aspects of, or perspectives seems illogical: the purpose of Moshe stretching out his hand would
on, the narrative. Hence if verse 10 belongs to aspect II, verses 11-12 seem to be to emphasize the fact that the parting of the sea is an act of
must belong to aspect I. God, and a mission entrusted to Moshe (as reflected in the conclusion of
Indeed, the different reactions on the part of the nation are well the chapter – "And they believed in God and in Moshe, His servant"),
suited to the respective themes of the two aspects. In aspect I, the fact since through the act of Moshe that is commanded by God, the water is
that the story is about a Divine plan that is executed within the framework immediately parted. If, however, after Moshe stretches out his hand,
of God's war against Egypt is highlighted by the fact that although Bnei there is still a delay that lasts the whole night, and only as morning
Yisrael complain, and are perhaps not worthy of being saved, the plan approaches is the water parted, then the connection between the
continues nevertheless. The behavior of Bnei Yisrael does not affect the stretching of the hand and the parting of the water is not discernible. For
events one way or the other, since God's intention in executing the plan this reason it would seem that 21(a) and 21(c) belong to aspect II
has nothing to do with them. Aspect II, on the other hand, tells the story ("Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea, and the water was parted"),
of the relationship between God and Israel. Within this perspective, the but 21(b) belongs to aspect I.
Torah emphasizes the behavior that is necessary in order for Bnei Let us consider 21(b) in isolation, independent of the other parts of
Yisrael to be worthy of God's deliverance – their prayer and crying out to the verse and ignoring, for the moment, the parting of the sea, which
Him. appears only in aspect II: "God drove the sea with a strong east wind all
In Moshe's words to the nation, in verses 13-14 ("Moshe said to the night, and He made the sea into dry land." Bnei Yisrael and the
nation: Do not be afraid; stand still and you will see God's Egyptians are stationary, each in their respective camp, separated by the
deliverance…") it is clear that Moshe is aware of the Divine plan, and pillar of cloud that lights up the darkness, throughout the night.
that he himself has no fear. This contrasts with the impression that we Throughout the night, a powerful east wind drives the sea and dries it up,
receive from aspect II, where Moshe cries out to God together with Bnei such that it becomes dry land. Attention should be paid to the fact that
Yisrael. His command, "Stand still and you will see God's deliverance" – there is no mention here of the water parting, or of a narrow path in the
i.e., stand where you are, also contradicts what we read in verse 15 midst of the sea; the verse describes the sea in its entirety as drying up.
(aspect II), where it is clear that Bnei Yisrael are commanded to journey This description contributes to the theme of aspect I. The aim is not
forwards. Hence, verses 13-14 belong to aspect I, and they are Moshe's only to save Bnei Yisrael; for this a pathway through the sea would
response to the complaint of Bnei Yisrael in verses 11-12. suffice for them to reach the other side. The aim is also to show the
We have already categorized verses 15-18 as belonging to aspect II. Egyptians the power and might of God. This is achieved by having them
Attention should be paid to the fact that what arises from our analysis encamp facing the sea, such that they watch the whole night while God's
is that the command to split the sea is conveyed to Moshe only in aspect east wind drives and dries up the entire sea.
II. From the perspective of aspect I, Bnei Yisrael are encamped at the Verse 22 ("And Bnei Yisrael came into the midst of the sea on dry
sea and await God's deliverance. There is no command to Moshe to split ground, and the water was a wall for them on their right and on their left")
the sea. assumes that the water is parted to leave a dry path, but still remains on
Let us now consider the verses that follow: both sides. Moreover, in this verse Bnei Yisrael are moving and not
(19) And the angel of God, who was proceeding ahead of the camp stationary. Therefore, we conclude that this verse belongs to aspect II.
of Israel, moved and went behind them. And the pillar of cloud went In verse 23 the Egyptians come "after them… into the midst of the
from before them, and stood behind them. sea." In other words, Bnei Yisrael have already entered the sea. Thus,
(20) And it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, this verse must also belong to aspect II.
and it was cloud and darkness [for the former], but it lit up the night Verse 24 ("And it was, at the morning watch, that God looked out
[for the latter], and one [camp] did not come close to the other all over the camp of Egypt through the pillar of fire and the cloud, and He
night. brought confusion upon the camp of Egypt") takes place at the "morning
(21) And Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea, and God drove watch" – i.e., the last part of the night, towards morning. This is
the sea with a strong east wind all night, and He made the sea into compatible with the description in aspect I, in which God dries up the sea
dry land, and the water was parted. during the night. The pillar of fire and the cloud, as well as the description
(22) And Bnei Yisrael went into the midst of the sea on the dry of the "camp" of the Egyptians, are also suited to this aspect. Now that
ground, and the water was a wall for them on their right and on their the Egyptians have witnessed God's power and His strong arm during
left. the night, the time has come for God to bring His plan to realization –
(23) And the Egyptians pursued and they came after them – all of "And I shall be honored through Pharaoh and through all of his host…"
Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen – into the midst of (verse 4). For this reason, He "brings confusion upon the camp of Egypt."
the sea. Clearly, verse 24 belongs to aspect I.
(24) And it was, at the morning watch, that God looked out at the Verse 25 is the direct continuation of verse 24; it continues God's
camp of Egypt, through the pillar of fire and the cloud, and He war against Egypt. Likewise, its description of the Egyptians fleeing "from
brought confusion upon the camp of Egypt. before Israel" stands in contradiction to verse 28, which tells us that the
(25) And He removed the wheels of their chariots, so that they drove water comes back onto the Egyptians "who came after them into the sea"
heavily. And the Egyptians said: Let us flee from before Israel, for (aspect II). Therefore, verse 25 must belong to aspect I. According to this
God is fighting for them against Egypt. narrative, the two camps are both at the sea. God wages war against
(26) And God said to Moshe: Stretch out your hand over the sea, Egypt, and the Egyptians understand that this is connected to their war
and the water will come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots against Israel; they therefore flee from before Bnei Yisrael.
and their horsemen. Verse 26 ("God said to Moshe: Stretch out your hand over the sea,
(27) And Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea and the water will come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and
returned to its strength towards morning, and the Egyptians fled upon their horsemen") assumes that the Egyptians are already in the
towards it. And God overturned the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. midst of the sea. This was mentioned previously in verse 23, which we
(28) And the water returned and covered the chariots and the categorized as belonging to aspect II. Hence, verse 26 must also belong
horsemen – all the host of Pharaoh that came after them into the to aspect II.
sea; not even one of them remained. The beginning of verse 27 ("Moshe stretched out his hand over the
(29) And Bnei Yisrael walked on the dry ground in the midst of the sea") represents a fulfillment of the command in verse 26 (aspect II), so
sea, and the water was a wall for them on their right and on their left. 27(a) belongs to II. The logical immediate result of his stretching his
Verse 19 comprises two parts: 19(a) speaks about an angel, while hand, as stated in verse 26, is that "the water will come back upon the
(b) speaks about the pillar of cloud. The text describes the angel as Egyptians…." This return of the water actually happens only in verse 28:
"proceeding ahead of the camp of Israel" – meaning that Bnei Yisrael are "And the water returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen – all
journeying, with the angel leading the way. Even after the angel moves to of the host of Pharaoh who had come after them into the sea; not even
the back of the camp, he is still "going" (i.e., on the move) behind them. one of them remained." Hence, verse 28 also belongs to aspect II.
This depiction is compatible with aspect II, in which Bnei Yisrael are The middle part of verse 27 ("and the sea returned to its strength
journeying, the Egyptians are pursuing them, and Moshe is told to tell the towards morning, and the Egyptians fled towards it"), separating these
nation to "journey on." The pillar ("amud") of fire, in contrast, is stationary two elements, belongs to aspect I. Indeed, it is well suited to aspect I: it
("omed"). This matches the description in aspect I, where Bnei Yisrael takes place "towards morning," as a continuation of the preceding
are encamped at the sea, stationary, silent, and waiting for God to save descriptions of time in this aspect – "all night" and "the morning watch";
them. Hence, 19(a) belongs to aspect II, while (b) belongs to aspect I. the sea "returns to its strength" after having been transformed – in its
Verse 20 clearly belongs to aspect I. It speaks of the "camp" – i.e., entirety – into "dry land"; and the Egyptians "flee," in accordance with the
Bnei Yisrael are encamped, the Egyptians catch up with them, and they intention that they express in verse 25 – "Let us flee from before Israel."
encamp too. This verse also mentions the cloud, which appeared in the Furthermore, their flight is "towards it" – towards the sea, since according
preceding verse as part of aspect I. Likewise, the description "one [camp] to this aspect they have not yet entered the sea; it is only at this point,
did not come close to the other all night" seems better suited to a driven by their confusion, that they flee from before Bnei Yisrael, who are
situation in which the two camps are set up and unmoving during the encamped at the sea, in the wrong direction into the sea. The end of
night. verse 27 ("And God overturned Egypt in the midst of the sea") also
In verse 20, the cloud lights up the night. Apparently, the cloud was belongs to aspect I, since in aspect II the water comes back to cover and
part fire, as described in the previous chapter (13:21 – "And God went drown the Egyptians only in the next verse (28 – "And the water came
before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead the way for them, and at back…"). Thus, 27(b) (from "and the sea returned to its strength towards
night as a pillar of fire, to give them light…"). Further on in our chapter, morning…" until the end of the verse) belongs to aspect I.
too, we read (24): "… in a pillar of fire and cloud…." As noted above, verse 28 clearly belongs to aspect II. Verse 29 then
In the first part (a) of verse 21 ("Moshe stretched out his hand over provides a lyrical repetition, emphasizing the contrast between what
the sea") Moshe fulfills the command to part the sea, in aspect II. The happened to the Egyptians and the procession of Bnei Yisrael in the
last part of the verse (c) – "And the water was parted" likewise matches midst of the sea.
the language of the command in verse 16 – "And stretch out your
Finally, let us now construct a full and continuous reading of each of (24:16): "From the fringe of the earth we have heard songs, glory to the
the two aspects. righteous…" The Gemara then cites another example: Moshe and the
Aspect I: entire Jewish people did not give the proper praise to God, until Yitro
God spoke to Moshe, saying: came along and exclaimed, "Barukh ha-Shem," "Blessed be God"
Speak to Bnei Yisrael that they should go back and encamp before (Shemot 18:10).
Pi Ha-chirot, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Ba'al Tzefon. How is this to be understood? Did not Moshe lead the people of
Before it shall you encamp at the sea. And Pharaoh will say of Bnei Israel in Song at the Sea? What does it mean that they did not properly
Yisrael: They are lost in the land; the desert has closed them in. And sing to God until Yitro came along?
I shall harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue after them, and I One answer seemingly is contained in the Gemara's explanation
shall gain honor through Pharaoh and through all of his host, and of what Yitro added. At the sea they may have sang to God, but they did
Egypt will know that I am the Lord. not exclaim, "Barukh ha-Shem." Yitro's praise of God was more focused
And they did so. on God's greatness, and this was an element that was less present in the
And God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, song of Moshe and the people at the sea.
And the Egyptians pursued them, and they caught up with them as But perhaps one could suggest another approach regarding what
they encamped by the sea – all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh was lacking in the Song at the Sea. What is the most central element of
and his horsemen, and his host – at Pi Ha-chirot, in front of Ba'al the Song? Presumably it is the first line of Moshe's song, the element
Tzefon. which constitutes the entirety of the Song of Miriam: "I will sing to God for
And they said to Moshe: "Was it for lack of graves in Egypt that you He has triumphed gloriously; He has thrown the horse and the rider into
have brought us to die in the wilderness? What is this that you have the sea" (15:1, 21). (The formulation is only slightly different in the two
done to us, in taking us out of Egypt? Is this not the thing of which we places, with an adjustment of the grammatical form from the first person
spoke to you in Egypt, saying: Leave us alone, and we shall serve to the second, but the content remains the same.)
the Egyptians – for it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to In both formulations, the relation between the song and the
die in the wilderness! triumph is achieved through the use of the word "ki," translated above as
And Moshe said to the nation: Do not fear; stand still and see God's "for." According to the Gemara (Shevu'ot 49b), the word "ki" in the Torah
salvation, which He will perform for you this day. For as you have can have any of four different meanings: if, perhaps, rather and because.
seen Egypt this day, you will never see them thus again. God will However, the word has a fifth sense, equivalent to the Hebrew word
fight for you, and you will remain silent. "asher," which would be translated into English as "that," "which," or
And the pillar of cloud went from before them, and stood behind "who," depending on the context.
them. In the case of our verse, there are two possibilities as to what "ki"
And it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and can mean. It can mean either "I will sing to God, who has triumphed
it was cloud and darkness [for the former], but it lit up the night [for gloriously" (the fifth definition), or "I will sing to God because He has
the latter], and one [camp] did not come close to the other all night. triumphed gloriously" (the fourth definition). Onkelos follows the former,
And Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea, and God drove the while Targum Yonatan follows the latter.
sea with a strong east wind all night, and He made the sea into dry If one takes the latter approach, the problematic aspect of the
land. Song at the Sea is understandable. The Song is conditional. It is an
And it was, at the morning watch, that God looked out at the camp of expression of praise to God based on the glorious triumph. But what
Egypt, through the pillar of fire and the cloud, and He brought would have happened if the people of Israel had suffered crushing defeat
confusion upon the camp of Egypt. And He removed the wheels of rather than glorious triumph? Would the people then not have sung to
their chariots, so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said: Let God? Would they not have recognized this as being an act of Divine
us flee from before Israel, for God is fighting for them against Egypt. intervention as well?
And the sea returned to its strength towards morning, and the Such conditional song lacks two crucial aspects of the service of
Egyptians fled towards it. And God overturned the Egyptians in the God. First, it reflects on a deficiency in yir'at ha-Shem, or awe of God.
midst of the sea. The Mishna (Berakhot 9:5, 54a) states, "One must bless God for the bad
Aspect II: just one blesses Him for the good." The Gemara (60b) seeks
And it was told to the king of Egypt that the nation had fled, and the clarification of this statement. It first suggests that the same blessing is
heart of Pharaoh and his servants turned against the nation, and recited on each occurrence, but it rejects this explanation. The Gemara
they said: What is this that we have done? For we have let Israel go then suggests that the similarity is not in the content of the blessing, but
from serving us. rather in the joy with which one should accept God's verdict. Just as one
And he readied his chariot, and took his people with him. And he should rejoice over positive verdicts from God, so too one should rejoice
took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and over negative ones. This demands a very high level of awe of God, the
captains over all of them. ability to accept everything He provides. As such, an inability to sing at
And he pursued Bnei Yisrael, and Bnei Yisrael went out with a high defeat indicates deficient awe.
hand. Second, one who is able to sing only for the good is lacking in
And Pharaoh drew near, and Bnei Yisrael lifted their eyes, and ahavat ha-Shem, love of God. The Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 10:3), in
behold – the Egyptians were coming after them. citing the ruling of the Gemara mentioned above, categorizes the
And they were very fearful, and Bnei Yisrael cried out to God. acceptance of divine decrees of evil as reflecting great love for God.
And God said to Moshe: Why are you crying out to Me? Speak to For two thousand years, Jews were oppressed and persecuted in
Bnei Yisrael, and let them journey on! many lands and in many ways. Nonetheless, we know of countless
As for you – lift up your staff, and stretch your arm over the sea and songs they sang throughout the generations. In recent generations, we
part it, so that Bnei Yisrael can proceed on dry ground in the midst of have merited the establishment of the State of Israel, and with it we have
the sea. once again have had the opportunity to sing about triumphant victory on
And I – behold, I will harden the heart of the Egyptians, and they will a national level.
follow them, and I will gain honor through Pharaoh and through all of However, this positive development has been accompanied by a
his hosts, through his chariots and through his horsemen. And Egypt diminishing ability to sing to God in all situations. We are now used to
shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor through singing for triumphant victory, but when tragedy befalls, we cannot open
Pharaoh and through all of his hosts, through his chariots, and our mouths.
through his horsemen. The dangers of such conditional turning to God are twofold. First,
And the angel of God, who was proceeding ahead of the camp of if tragedy strikes, there can be an abandonment of Torah and Judaism.
Israel, moved and went behind them. But the ramifications of such an approach are grave even if this is not the
And Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea, case. If we are unable to sing to God when things are bad, this reflects
and the water was parted. deficient yir'at ha-Shem and ahavat ha-Shem, even if we do sing when
And Bnei Yisrael went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, things are good.
and the water was a wall for them on their right and on their left. We need to make sure to sing to God with the same joyful
And the Egyptians pursued and they came after them – all of acceptance of the divine decree, whether the decree is good or bad.
Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen – into the midst of May we merit singing on occasions of triumphant victory, while still
the sea. knowing how to praise God even if our situation is reversed.
And God said to Moshe: Stretch out your hand over the sea, and the [This sicha was originally delivered on leil Shabbat, Parashat Beshalach
water will come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and 5761 (2001).]
And Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea,
and the water returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen – 7 BAR ILAN UNIVERSITY
A project of Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Jewish Studies, Paul and Helene hulman Basic Jewish Studies Center,
all the host of Pharaoh that came after them into the sea; not even and the Office of the Campus Rabbi. Sponsored by Dr. Ruth Borchard of the Shoresh Charitable Fund (SCF).
one of them remained. Published with assistance of the President's Fund for Torah and Science.Web Site:
And Bnei Yisrael walked on the dry ground in the midst of the sea, “I, DEBORAH” – TWO REMARKS ON THE HAFTARAH OF BE-
and the water was a wall for them on their right and on their left. SHALAH
C) SICHAT ROSH YESHIVA Professor Moshe Zipor, Emeritus Department of Bible
HARAV AHARON LICHTENSTEIN SHLIT"A 1. ARCHAIC (OUTDATED) WORDS
ONE MUST ACCEPT IT JOYOUSLY In her song, Deborah describes the sorry state of security and the
The exodus from Egypt is deeply ingrained in our collective depressed atmosphere “in the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the
consciousness. The splitting of the Red Sea and the song of praise are days of Yael”: the roads were empty, no one daring to travel; people
particularly salient events in that process. withdrew into their towns, behind fortifications, and for fear of enemies
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 94a) cites two cases of praise by one there remained no unwalled cities. Such were the conditions, she
party which brought to light the fact that another had not given praise. sang, “Till I arose [shakamti], I, Deborah, till I arose, a mother in
The Gemara opens by citing the case of Chizkiyahu, who did not sing Israel!” (Judges 5:7).
praise for the salvation God brought upon him. Instead, the earth itself On this, Rav Judah cited Rav (Pesahim 66b):
sang out to God. The Gemara cites a verse from Yeshayahu
A haughty person … if he is a prophet, he loses his power of And the Lord threw … into The Lord looked down … and
prophecy. We learn this from Deborah; as it is written, panic threw… into panic
“Deliverance ceased, ceased in Israel” (Rashi’s comment: this the Egyptian army … all of
was her haughtiness, putting down her predecessors and Sisera and all his chariots Pharaoh’s horses, chariots
glorifying herself), and subsequently we find, “Awake, awake, O and army and horsemen
Deborah! Awake, awake, strike up the chant!” ([Judges 5:12] on This is the day on which Thus the Lord delivered Israel
which Rashi comments: “[she had to be awakened] for she had the Lord will deliver Sisera that day from the Egyptians
become silent; her power of prophecy had left her”). into your hands (The Lord went before them,
However, “I, Deborah” can be interpreted differently. In the The Lord is marching 13:21); the angel of G-d, who
haftarah of Parashat Va-Yera it is written, “At this season next year, before you had been going ahead of the
you [spelled a-t-y, read in the margin as at] will be embracing a son” Israelite army
(II Kings 4:16). Further on, in verse 23, we have “Why are you going The stars fought from For the Lord is fighting for
[pointed in the margin: at holekhet, but consonantally written as aty heaven, … fought against them against Egypt
hlkhty, which can be mis-read as halakhti, “I went”] to him today.” Sisera
One should not necessarily think that the grammatical form that is Not a man was left Not one of them remained
given in the margins as the way the word should be read (kri or kre) is
necessarily the correct one and that the spelling in the text (called the … had fled on foot Let us flee from the Israelites
ketiv) is a corruption, for this verb form with final yod for the second- On that day God subdued Thus the Lord delivered …
person singular feminine appears elsewhere, as in Jeremiah 3:4: King Yavin … before the that day
“Just now you called [written qrty, which can be vocalized as qarati, a Israelites Israel … from the Egyptians
first-person form that makes no sense in context] to Me, ‘Father’” and On that day Deborah and Then Moses and the Israelites
a marginal remark gives the proper reading as qarat (= you called). Barak son of Abinoam sang
Likewise, in Jeremiah 31:20, we read: “Keep in mind the highway, sang I will sing to the Lord
the road that you traveled” [written hlkhty, as if first-person halakhti, I will sing, will sing to the
but the kri in the margin is halakht = you traveled, as occurs later on Lord
in the same verse), and many other instances. Hear, O kings! (The peoples hear)
This form with final vowel /ī/ is used for the second-person Advanced from the (the clans of Edom)
singular feminine in Arabic and other Semitic languages. In other country of Edom
words, the form that appears in the biblical text is proper, but archaic, The book of Judges, it seems, wishes to portray the Lord’s
having been superseded by the form without a final vowel. This deliverance in the battle of Barak and Deborah as a reenactment of
would also seem to be the explanation for Jeremiah 2:20: “For long the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the
ago you broke [shavarti] your yoke, tore off [nitaqti] your yoke-bands, Egyptians (cf. “the torrent Kishon swept them away,”
and said, ‘I will not work,’” in which passage the prophet compares 5:21).C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local
Israel to a rebellious animal (cf. Jeremiah 5:5). Note that in Jeremiah Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK47\zip.html - _ftn1
2:20 the vocalization is in first-person as we have given it, the C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Temporary
ostensible meaning being ‘I have broken your yoke, torn off your Internet Files\OLK47\zip.html - _ftnref1The future deliverance of Israel
yoke-bands’, the speaker being the prophet; therefore there is no is also modeled after the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea; cf. Is.
alternative marginal reading, the kri, since it is possible to explain the 11:15-16.
verse even if the verbs are taken to be in the first-person, although
such a reading is somewhat far-fetched. In fact, what we have here
are two archaic forms for the second-person feminine, which is why 8- AISH HATORA
we translated “you broke your yoke.” (C) 1999 Aish HaTorah International - All rights reserved. http://www.aish.com/
Perhaps the verses in the Song of Deborah can be explained A) WHAT'S BOTHERING RASHI (Avigdor Bonchek)
similarly. The words, “Awake [uri], awake, O Deborah,” are a call of This week's parsha recounts the final hours of the historic Exodus from
encouragement by the audience hearing Deborah’s song, and Egypt. The Israelites left Egypt in a cloud of glory, literally. The splitting of
immediately afterwards comes the rallying call to Barak, the warrior: the Reed Sea was the climactic event culminating in a miracle-packed
“Arise, O Barak, take your captives, O son of Abinoam!” In antiquity it year when Pharaoh and his culture of magic were soundly defeated by
was common for the audience to join in as the poet sang. In the the God of the Hebrews. At the crossing of the Sea when Pharaoh and
same way one can explain Judges 5:7 which follows the description his choice army were drowned, Moses and the People sang praise to
of the depressed state the country was in. The audience then Hashem: The Song of the Sea. In it we read the following verse:
responded, “[All this was the condition] till you arose [shaqamti], O EXODUS 15:3
Deborah, till [you] arose, O mother, in Israel,” using the archaic form "Hashem is a man of war, Hashem is His name."
for second-person feminime singular, shaqamti. Perhaps also the RASHI
verse in the Song on the Sea (Ex. 15:16), which is very similar to this Hashem is a man of war - RASHI: [The Hebrew 'Ish Milchama']
verse, is also a chorus of the Israelites (cf. Ex. 15:1): “Till Your means the Master of Wars. As in (Ruth 1:3) "Ish Naomi" - "The
people cross over, O Lord, till Your people cross whom You have husband (or master) of Naomi." Similarly, (in Kings 2:2 when David
ransomed.” speaks to his son, Shlomo) "Be strengthened and be a man"
If we accept this interpretation, then there is no issue of Deborah meaning, "and be a strong person."
being haughty or self-aggrandizing here. Perhaps in her song she WHAT IS RASHI SAYING?
intended only to praise the warriors, including Yael for her brave Rashi is translating the word "Ish" which literally means "man." He
deed, and not to say a thing about her share in the battle. She may gives it the meaning of "master."
have seen herself merely as the one transmitting the word of the Lord QUESTIONING RASHI
and encouraging the people to go to war, and now she was singing a A Question: Why is Rashi's translation, "master," better than the
song of deliverance. Only after the battle had concluded as it did, simple meaning of "man"?
with Yael and not Barak (or another of the warriors) being the one to What was bothering him about the word "man"?
kill Sisera, Yavin’s army commander, did her earlier words to Barak WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
become clear (she essentially gave a prophecy without truly knowing An Answer: Describing God as "man" is problematic. God is not a
what it was about): “For then the Lord will deliver Sisera into the man. As the verse says "God is not man" (Numbers 23:19). If He is not a
hands of a woman” (Judges 4:9). At that time, before the battle, one "man" why then does the verse refer to him as "Ish Milchama"?
might have thought that the “woman” would be Deborah herself, How does Rashi's brief interpretation help us?
whom Barak had asked to go along with him. In fact, it was Yael. UNDERSTANDING RASHI
2. THE BATTLE OF DEBORAH AND BARAK – A SECOND An Answer: God is described here neither as a "man" in the sense of
SPLITTING OF THE RED SEA "man and not woman" nor in the sense of "man and not animal." The
The narrative of Barak’s battle against Sisera and the Song of word is now translated as "master" one who is in charge of, in control of,
Deborah, in Judges, chapters 4 and 5, corresponds in many ways to wars. In this way we have avoided any possible anthropomorphism, that
the narrative of the splitting of the Red Sea and the Song on the Sea is describing God in human terms.
(Exodus 14-15). In the chart below we present the similar wordings Can you see any other significance to Rashi's new translation?
that occur in both passages (to show the parallels, the phrases are A DEEPER SIGNIFICANCE
not necessarily presented here exactly in the same order as they An Answer: The words "a Man of War" convey the idea of an
appear in the English translation), several of them being phrases that aggressive God, one whose chief characteristic and whose main pastime
are shared by these two passages and do not occur elsewhere in the is making wars. This is not the Jewish view of God. But, in fact, it is the
Bible: Christian view of the God of the Old Testament (i.e. as they see the
Judges 4-5 Exodus 14-15 Jewish view of God). It has often been said by gentiles that the Old
Sisera was informed [va- When the king of Egypt was Testament (the Tanach) conveys God as a cruel, unforgiving deity; a
yugad] (that Barak … had told [va-yagidu] that the harsh disciplinarian. Many verses throughout Tanach can be cited that
refute this claim. But this is not the place to go into that. It is enough to
gone up to Mount Tabor) people had fled, see how Rashi's sensitivity to this point may have prompted him to make
So Sisera ordered all his ordered his chariot … six
chariots – nine hundred hundred of his picked chariots this comment. God is not a "man of war" in the sense that He is occupied
and preoccupied with making war. He is, rather, the Master of wars, in
iron chariots and took his men (‘am) with the sense that if wars must be fought, then His battles, which are on the
and all the troops (‘am) he him
had side of justice and righteousness, are in His control. He is the Master of
these wars and after the dust of battle settles, then His values will
“They must be dividing the The foe said, “I will pursue, I prevail.
spoil they have found” will overtake, I will divide the Let us be blessed to live to see such Divine victories.
B) FAMILY PARASHA
There's nothing good about being mean. In this week's portion we strongest connection to Jewish communities worldwide. Email: email@example.com web-site:
learn how the Amalekite nation attacked the Jewish people for no other GLORY IN THE CLOUDS
reason than to be cruel and spiteful. They weren't fighting over land, nor Harav Yosef Carmel
were there any previous fights between them. They simply wanted to
harm and destroy. We can learn from this how not to act - not to be cruel Even after the great miracles of the Ten Plagues, the Exodus, and
the Splitting of the Sea, Bnei Yisrael were yet to reach their final
or hurtful to others. destination of spiritual stability. A month after the Exodus, the complaints
In our story, a nasty scene helps a kid discover the truth about being began: “Had we only died at the hands of Hashem in Egypt when we
were sitting on the pot of meat, when we ate bread to satiation, that you
mean. took us to the desert to kill the entire congregation from hunger” (Shemot
IN THE MEAN TIME
"Ow!" yelled Danny, rubbing his arm that just got a hard pinch from 16:3). Hashem’s answer contains an expression that appears here for
the first time in the Torah and seems oddly out of place: “In the evening
his older brother, Bob. "Why'd you do that?" you will know that Hashem took you out of the Land of Egypt and in the
"Cuz it's fun, squirt," laughed the older boy. "Anyway, stop
complaining and hurry up. I have a dentist's appointment and Dad said if morning you will see the glory of (k’vod) Hashem as he heard your
complaints … They looked to the desert, and the glory of Hashem was
we're not home by three, I'll be in trouble. And if I get into trouble, you seen in the cloud” (ibid.: 6-10).
can bet I'm going to make sure you suffer twice as much."
Danny had no doubt his brother meant it. Bob's favorite hobby What is this “glory of Hashem”? We begin with the words of Prof.
Nechama Leibovitz, the generation’s teacher of parashat hashavua: “The
seemed to be picking on him and doing whatever he could to make visible glory of Hashem- can we know what it is? From the time that Asaf
"Come on! I mean it, run!" commanded Bob with a hard slap on the lamented, “There is no longer a prophet in Israel and no one among us
knows to what” (Tehillim 74:9), no one among us knows the nature of
back. Afraid, Danny started running, only to flop right away on the ground prophecy or the nature of seeing the visions of Hashem. Only one who
after tripping over the foot Bob sneakily stuck in his way.
"Ha! Haaa! What's the matter, squirt - forgot how to walk or merited to be exposed to the Divine Presence will know what its nature
something?" Rashi uses the opportunity to teach a moral lesson. Bnei Yisrael
"Bob, come on, cut it out!" the boy sputtered as he picked up all the
stuff that spilled out of the heavy book-bag he was carrying. The bag was would receive at night a realization that Hashem has the ability to fulfill
their desires and provide meat. However, since the request of meat was
extra heavy from all of the extra stuff his brother made him haul. "What done improperly they would experience it without “a shining face,”
did I ever do to you?"
"You exist - that's bad enough. Now come on, we're getting later by whereas by day, they would receive bread along with the glory of
Hashem, as the bread would fall with love. According to this approach,
the minute." the glory of Hashem once refers to a sign of love and another time refers
The boys started walking home, Danny nervously making sure to
keep his eye on Bob in case he tried another one of his many 'tricks.' to Divine Revelation. But why does the Torah use confusing
They were about a block from home when they saw a commotion. A K’vod Hashem appears in several contexts of this era, including Mt.
few kids were standing in a circle, holding sticks, laughing and making
loud noises. Curious, the brothers got closer and were shocked to see a Sinai, the kohanim’s clothing, and the events in the Mishkan
(Tabernacle). The Ramban (to Bereishit 18:1) connects between k’vod
tiny, frightened kitten cowering in the middle of the circle. Each time it Hashem and Hashem’s relationship with those close to Him in regard to
tried to escape, one of the kids would yell loud and bang down his stick
inches away from the terrified creature's head. His visit of Avraham. Avraham, he says, was not trying to receive
prophecy at that moment, yet Hashem appeared to him in a vision. This
Danny watched as Bob, who was bigger than any of the kids there, honored Avraham and showed his stature, just as Hashem’s Presence
pushed his way into the circle.
"WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU GUYS!?" he thundered. "If you don't honored Bnei Yisrael at the Mishkan, when their efforts to erect it made
them so deserving.
put those sticks down this second and get out of here - you're going to be According to the Ramban’s approach, not only did Hashem find Bnei
wearing them in your nose!" He clapped his hands and made some
threatening stomps, which immediately dispersed the group in every Yisrael worthy of grace at historically positive times, but even when they
had complaints, they deserved grace when they handled themselves
direction. The kitten, sensing freedom, quickly slinked off and properly. Turning the right way, one could see the Presence in the cloud.
disappeared into some tall grass.
Bob, obviously feeling proud of his good deed, turned to Danny and In these difficult days, which seem to be days of darkness and haze, we
should remember that behind the cloud there is always a great light.
shook his head. "Can you believe the mean streak those guys had?
Tormenting a poor innocent creature much smaller than them - just to ASK THE RABBI
have fun! Isn't that sick?" he asked, rolling his eyes. Question: When I clear plates on Shabbat of leftover food and some of
"Well, um, you're right, Bob," Danny nodded. "And it's great how you the food has kedushat shvi’it (sanctity of Shemitta, making it forbidden to
saved the kitten, b-but ... aren't I smaller than you too and d-don't you dispose of it in a disgraceful manner), is it borer (selecting) to separate
hurt me for no reason?" Danny's eyes were tearing and as Bob realized out that which needs to go into the pach (receptacle of) Shemitta?
what his little brother was getting at, only his age and toughness stopped Answer: The three main conditions one needs to fulfill to permit the
his eyes from tearing too. The kid was right. Why was his picking on his selecting of one object from another are: 1) One must take the good
little brother any better than those guys being cruel to an animal? In fact (ochel) from the bad (p’solet), as taking p’solet from ochel is forbidden. 2)
... he swallowed hard ... it was probably worse. One must plan to use the ochel in the near future. 3) One may not use a
"Yeah ... um ... well, maybe you're right. But anyway, squ i... I mean special utensil to facilitate the selecting. #3 is not a problem, as there is
Danny, let's head home. Dad's waiting for us. Um, if you want you can no need to use a specific type of utensil. However, since you will not use
give me your book-bag to carry for a while and take a load off your back." the separated food soon thereafter, #2 seems to be missing.
The kids bounded home without a single tease, pinch or trip along To deal with that problem, we have to analyze #1. Is only p’solet from
the way. All thanks to a little kitten, and a little kid that taught a big boy an ochel forbidden and other things are permitted, or is only ochel from
even bigger lesson. p’solet permitted? What happens if one takes ochel from ochel, i.e., if
QUESTIONS one separates two things that will both be used at the same time in the
Ages 3-5 future, but not immediately? On this point, the Pri Megadim is lenient but
Q. How did Bob feel about picking on Danny at first? the Biur Halacha (to 319:3) rejects his opinion and says that if that which
A. He didn't think twice. It was fun for him and he didn't care how Danny is removed will not be used in the short term, it is forbidden. However,
felt. our case is one of separating p’solet from p’solet in a manner that neither
Q. How did he feel in the end? will be used in the future, and the Biur Halacha agrees that it is permitted
A. He realized that what he was doing was no better than those kids who to do so. The reason this case is more lenient has to do with the
were hurting the kitten. definition of borer as a positive act. When one separates p’solet from
Ages 6-9 ochel, the act is positive because it leaves an improved ochel behind.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Bob learned that day? However, when both elements are thrown out, the fact that they are
A. Although he had been acting very cruel to his younger brother, he separated in the process is not significantly positive.
hadn't realized he was wrong until he saw the kids tormenting the cat This is one of the bases for permitting pouring an undesired mixture
and it dawned in him that the way he'd been treating Danny was just as of liquid and solid pieces into the sink even though the liquid goes down
cruel. the drain and the solid pieces are held back by a sieve-like drain cover.
Q. Why do you think people act cruelly? Rav S.Z. Orbach (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 12:16 and ibid.:(47))
A. Many times it comes from not liking themselves, or because others says that since both things are being discarded, the fact that they are
had been cruel to them. separated in the process does not make it borer. One could claim that
Ages 10 and Up the same is true in our case, that one’s plan to put the two types of
Q. How would you compare being cruel to animals with being cruel to leftovers in two different garbage receptacles is not a problem.
other people? Despite the reasonable logic and halachic basis for permitting
A. While cruelty to animals is certainly wrong and forbidden by the Torah, separating the holy and non-holy unwanted leftovers (see Orchot
we should realize that being cruel to our fellow humans who are more Shabbat 3:44), several contemporary poskim did not permit it practically
self-aware than animals and therefore in many ways even more sensitive (Rav N. Karelitz and Rav Vozner, cited ibid.; Rav Elyashiv, cited in Ayil
to pain - including emotional pain - can be even worse. Meshulash 9:24). The matter may depend on the logic behind a Shemitta
Q. Do you think acting harshly can ever be justified? receptacle. Is it that one can throw out kedushat shvi’it food but should
A. While generally harshness is a negative behavior, when dealing with do so respectfully (see Katif Shvi’it 63:7)? Or is it that one has no right to
people who are acting in a seriously destructive way and they will not be waste Shemitta food and so he puts it aside where he can potentially eat
influenced by a soft approach, acting harshly is not only ethical, but it later? If the latter is correct, then removing kedushat shvi’it from other
perhaps even mandatory. food is like selecting ochel from p’solet for non-immediate use, which is
forbidden (see Ayil Meshulash, ibid.). I heard in the name of Rav H.
10 – ERETZ CHEMDA
Eretz Hemdah is the premier institution for training young rabbi's to take the Israeli Rabbinate's rigorous Yadin Yadin
Schachter that the fact that the food requires a specific halachic process
might (he did not render a ruling on the matter) make the selection
examinations. Eretz Hemdah, with its distinctive blend of Religious Zionist philosophy and scholarship coupled
halachically significant and therefore a problem.
with community service, ensures its graduates emerge with the finest training, the noblest motivations and the
In any case, one should consider the following. According to our where the renter made the undoing of the rental contingent on another
mentor, Rav Yisraeli z.t.l., it is sufficient to put kedushat shvi’it food in a condition, e.g., returning the pre-paid rental fee. In contrast, when he
bag before throwing it in the garbage. Whether one does so or accepts informs the landlord that he considers the rental over there is mechila
the stringency of having a receptacle where the food is to rot first, one (relinquishing of rights), which does not require a kinyan. Some say that
may put non-Shemitta garbage along with the Shemitta as long as the the Rivash agrees that an admission that the rental is over is effective.
former is not already decomposing or otherwise disgracing the Shemitta Finally, the Rivash is based on an assumption that rental is like a
food. Therefore, there is no halachic need to separate. temporary sale, which is a hotly disputed contention. Therefore, there
MORESHET SHAUL should be ample grounds to justify pl’s contention that the rental was
THE APPROACHES OF CHASIDUT, HITNAGDUT, AND THE over. However, Kovetz He’arot posits that pre-payment works to make
MUSSAR MOVEMENT – PART VII (FROM PERAKIM the connection to the property a full albeit temporary acquisition in the
B’MACHSHEVET YISRAEL, PP. 515-531) body of the property. Therefore, everyone will agree that a kinyan is
Mussar – part II needed to end the rental.
[We saw last time that mussar’s approach is that one should act in a The Rama (CM 315:1) says that a renter can sublet a home as long
manner that brings him the most benefit. However, people should as it does not harm the property and that a landlord can rent it to
concentrate more on the significant spiritual benefit in the world to come someone else if the renter is not living there because it is bad for a
than on their physical benefit in this world.] property to be unoccupied. The Netivot Hamishpat (315:2) says that if
Why does one tend to err and attribute such value to things that are this happens, in a case where the renter could not manage to rent it out,
really fleeting in this world? Couldn’t the Creator have given us the the landlord can keep the new rental fee in addition to the old one.
tendency to choose the good and be repulsed by the bad? Should we not Therefore, def did not relinquish his rights to the rent which he received
use the tools and instincts that the Creator gave us? pre-paid, which he can keep.
The answer is that, to the contrary, the world was made this way
specifically because it is only in this way that a person can reach the
height of good and perfection. All matters of the world, whether good or
11 – RAV KOOK
Rav Kook on the Net: RavKook.n3.net
bad, are just tests. Tranquility and happiness lack innate value; poverty TWO LEVELS OF LOVE
and afflictions need not be depressing. They are only means, optical When the Israelites saw that they had been rescued from Pharaoh's
illusions if you will, that a person experiences so that he can overcome army at the sea, they sang out with gratitude:
them and attain completeness. "This is my God, and I will enshrine Him; My father's God, I will exalt
“The inclination of a person is bad from his youth” (Bereishit 8:21). Him." [Ex. 15:2]
Such is nature. Covering it up or ignoring it would be self-deception Is the repetition in this line from Shirat Hayam (the 'Song at the Sea')
which would lull one to sleep and keep him from reaching completeness. merely poetic? Or is there a deeper significance to the two halves of the
By necessity, our normal state includes a certain degree of spiritual verse?
sickness, so people should not view themselves and others as abnormal. Although not apparent in translation, the verse uses two different
One should not look at the Jewish people in a more positive light either. names of God. The first half of the verse uses the name El, while the
Inborn tendencies to act properly are not an advantage, for one’s task is second half uses Elokim. What is the significance of each name? How do
to fight one’s negative inclinations and conquer them. Thus, good they specifically relate to the desire to 'enshrine' and 'exalt' God?
tendencies minimize the opportunity to progress. That is why the Rabbis Innate and Contemplative Love
say: “Whoever is greater than his friend has a bigger negative The song, Rav Kook explained, refers to two types of love for God.
inclination.” The first is an innate love and appreciation for God as our Creator and
Recognition of our moral weakness should not cause despair or Provider. God, the Source of all life, sustains us every moment of our
make us angry at ourselves because this is the way we were created. lives. All things are inherently drawn to their source, and this love for God
Our deficiencies are the key to potential growth and should energize us comes naturally, like the innate feelings of love and respect for one's
toward action. We must not be complacent with our present state but parents.
must and can overcome it and redirect our personalities. One should not This natural love of God corresponds to the Divine name El. The
say in this regard that that which Hashem has done cannot be undone. word El is in the singular, reflecting an appreciation for God as the only
People’s tendencies can be conquered and changed. Even animals can true power and the ultimate reality of the universe.
be trained by humans. So too, a person can tame and improve himself A second, higher form of love for God is acquired through thoughtful
(based on Ohr Yisrael- Rav Yisrael Salanter). contemplation of God's rule of the universe. As we uncover God's
The point of the study of mussar is to expose the camouflaged guiding hand in history, and recognize the underlying Divine providence
inclinations that make up the “me” in a person and the tactics that they in the world, we experience this higher, contemplative love. This love
use to confuse and entice him. Mussar helps one reeducate himself in corresponds to the name Elokim - in the plural - referring to the myriad
order to change these tendencies. How is this accomplished? Trying to causes and forces that God utilizes to govern the universe.
take on such a daunting task by ourselves has little chance of success. Enshrining and Exalting
The answer is what Chazal have taught us: “I have created an evil These two types of love differ in their constancy. The natural love of
inclination; I have created the Torah as a remedy.” Until a person frees God as our Creator should be a constant and unwavering emotion, like
himself from the inclination’s dominion, even his intellect is “bribed to the love and respect for one's parents. But the elevated love, the product of
point that it cannot see straight.” “The desire and inclination are burning contemplation and introspection, is nearly impossible to sustain
and allow one to purify the sheretz (impure animal)” (Ohr Yisrael). Only continually, due to life's many distractions.
the Torah can cure this. “Do not take your intellect even as a staff to lean Regarding the innate love of God, the verse speaks of enshrining
on” (Gra). God. With this natural emotion, we can create a permanent place - an
The primary inner force one can use is fear, an attribute that the emotional shrine - for God in our hearts. "This is my God, and I will
Mussar Movement openly sought to restore. Torah and mitzvot are enshrine Him."
intended to entrench fear within us (“so that you shall learn to fear”). As The higher, contemplative love, on the other hand, does not benefit
bad tendencies are connected to senses, intellect alone cannot curb from this level of constancy. One should always strive for an ever-deeper
them. Fear which is related to the senses can keep them in check and appreciation and awe of God. This is our spiritual goal, achieved by
clarify the extent to which one’s actions are based on self-deception utilizing our faculties of wisdom and insight. Regarding this form of love,
(Even Yisrael). Mitzvot are valuable primarily to the extent that they are it is appropriate to speak about exalting God, indicating an emotion that
done through contemplation, seriousness, and focus on their purpose, to is the product of concentrated effort. "My father's God, I will exalt Him."
heighten fear of Hashem. One cannot leave things to routine but should [adapted from Olat Re'iyah vol. I, p. 235]
learn mussar every day to check that things are progressing according to
the proper plan.
P'NINAT MISHPAT 12 COVENANT AND CONVERSATION
Covenant and Conversation, a unique new Torah commentary from the Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks
RETURNING PRE-PAYMENT FOR A RENTAL THE TURNING POINT
(based on Halacha Psuka, vol. 37 – condensation of a p’sak from Piskei THE SEDRA OF BESHALLACH is beautifully constructed. It begins
Din Rabbaniim, vol. XVII, pp. 69-78)
Case: The defendant (def) rented an apartment to the plaintiff (pl) for with a battle; it ends with a battle; and in the middle is the great miracle,
the turning point - the crossing of the Red Sea. As so often in the Mosaic
a year and paid in advance along with a security deposit. In the middle of books, we are presented with a chiasmus, a literary structure of the form
the year, pl returned the keys to def and left the apartment. In the
meantime, def rented out the apartment to someone else. Pl demands ABCBA, in which the end is a mirror image of the beginning, and the
climax is at the centre.
the rental money corresponding to the time when the rental was no Occupying the central role in Beshallach is the episode of the Red
longer active. Def responds that ending a binding rental requires a kinyan
(an act of finalization) which never took place, so that pl remained the Sea, which turns out to be a division in more than one sense. Literally,
the waters are divided. But metaphorically the fate of the Israelites is also
renter even when he stopped living there. divided: into a before and after. Before, they are still in Egyptian territory,
Ruling: The Rivash (#510) discusses the case of a rental that was
done with a full kinyan after which time the landlord indicated that he still - that is to say - under the sway of Pharaoh. It is no accident that
Pharaoh and his chariots pursue the Israelites to the very edge of their
wanted to end the rental and the renter acquiesced. When the landlord territory. Anywhere within Egypt Pharaoh rules; or at least, he believes
wanted to return the fee that was already paid, the renter informed him
that he decided to hold the landlord to the original agreement. He he does.
Once across the sea, however, the Israelites have traversed a
claimed that although he had agreed before witnesses to abrogate the boundary. They are now in no-man's-land, the desert. Again it is no
agreement, he had not done a kinyan to undo the previous one. The
Rivash ruled that since rental is like a temporary sale, the kinyan to accident that here, where no king rules, they can experience with pristine
clarity the sovereignty of G-d. Israel become the first - historically, the
activate it must be reversed by a kinyan, just as a real sale would only - people to be ruled directly by G-d. The Red Sea is what
require. Similarly in our case, we would say that since no kinyan was
done to end the rental, pl is still considered a renter and would have to anthropologist Victor Turner called "liminal space," a boundary between
two domains that must be traversed if one is to enter into a new mode of
pay. being - in this case the boundary between human and divine rule. Once
Admittedly several Acharonim argue with the Rivash. Furthermore,
Sha’ar Mishpat (315:1) says that the Rivash ruled only in a case crossed, there is no going back.
The symbolism of the Sea does not end there however. It reminds us upward. They directed the eyes, and thus the minds, of the Israelites to
of the ancient ceremony of covenant-making. The key verb of covenant heaven. That gave them the courage, the inner strength, the hope and
is "to cut." An animal, or animals, were divided and the parties to the faith to prevail.
covenant stood or sat between them. The division of things normally This transition - as we will see, it forms the underlying argument of
united or whole, stood as symbol of the unification of entities (persons, the book of Shemoth - is signaled in an extraordinarily subtle verse
tribes, nations) previously divided. In this context a key passage is the immediately prior to the battle against Amalek.
covenant "cut" between G-d and Abraham in Bereishith 15: G-d had performed a miracle for the Israelites of the most majestic
So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each kind. For them, he had divided the waters of the sea - and for once, the
three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon." Abram brought Israelites believed. "The Israelites saw the great power that G-d had
all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each unleashed against Egypt, and the people were in awe of G-d. They
other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half . . . As the sun was believed in G-d and in his servant Moses." But the change of heart did
setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness not last. Three days later they were complaining about the water. Then
came over him. Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your they complained about the lack of food. Miracle follows miracle. The
descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be water is made drinkable. G-d sends manna from heaven. They move on
enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation to Rephidim, and again there is no water. Again the people complain.
they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great This time Moses comes close to despair. "What am I to do with these
possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be people?" he says to G-d, "They are almost ready to stone me." G-d then
buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will sends water from a rock. But the memory of the Israelites' ingratitude
come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full remains. Moses incorporates it into a place name:
measure." When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking And he called the place Massah ("testing") and Meribah
firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On ("quarreling") because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested
that day the LORD made (literally "cut") a covenant with Abram . . . the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us [bekirbenu] or not?"
So at the Red Sea the Israelites passed "between the pieces" (the Immediately thereafter we read that "The Amalekites came and
waters, rather than the halves of animals) in a ratification of the covenant attacked the Israelites at Rephidim." There is an obvious connection. The
with Abraham. They passed from one domain to another, from being Israelites' doubt is punished. Having protected them throughout, G-d
slaves - avadim - to Pharaoh to becoming servants -- avadim - to G-d. gives them a glimpse of what life is like without his protection. They will
This surely is the meaning of the phrase, in the Song at the Sea: be exposed to great dangers. This is on the surface of the narrative.
. . . until your people pass by, O LORD , until the people you have However, beneath the surface is a surpassing irony. The Hebrew
acquired pass by. word bekirbenu can mean two things. It can mean "among us" (a spatial
The crossing of the sea is both an act of covenant-making and a sense) but it can also mean "within us" (a psychological sense). The real
transfer of possession. The Israelites are now G-d's possession rather meaning of the battle against Amalek, as understood by the Mishnah, is
than Pharaoh's. They have entered new territory, not just geographically that it showed the inner, psychological, spiritual and emotional dimension
but also existentially. What does this mean? What difference does it of the Divine presence. The Israelites won not because G-d fought the
make? The answer is surprising, counter-intuitive. To understand it, we battle for them, but because G-d gave them the strength to fight the
must compare the two battles, one before, the other after, the Sea. battle for themselves. G-d was not "among" them but "within" them. That
The first is marked by extreme passivity. Having let the Israelites go, was the crucial change between before and after the crossing of the Red
the Egyptians change their mind. Pharaoh decides to pursue them and Sea.
assembles a force of six hundred chariots. We have to think ourselves One of the most remarkable features of Judaism - in this respect it is
back to an age in which the horse-drawn chariot was the ultimate supreme among religious faiths - is its call to human responsibility. G-d
weapon of war. In biblical times, Egypt was famous for its horses. No wants us to fight our own battles. This is not abandonment. It does not
other nation could rival them. This meant that they could out-manoeuvre mean - G-d forbid - that we are alone. G-d is with us whenever and
any rival military force. Horses gave them speed, and chariots gave them wherever we are with him. "Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the
protection. They were impregnable, and the sight of six hundred of them shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." What it means is
approaching would have been terrifying to a well-drilled army, let alone that G-d calls on us to exercise those qualities - confidence, courage,
an unruly, disorganised group of slaves. Predictably, the Israelites lose choice, imagination, determination and will - which allow us to reach our
heart and blame Moses for bringing them out of Egypt to die in the full stature as beings in the image of G-d.
wilderness. The book of Shemot teaches this lesson in the form of three
Moses' reply is short and sharp: narratives, of which the division of the Red Sea is the first. The others
Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you are the epiphany of G-d at Mount Sinai and later in the Tabernacle, and
will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians the first and second tablets Moses brings down from the mountain. In all
you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you, but three cases we have a double narrative, a before and after. In each, the
you must remain silent." first is an act performed entirely by G-d (the drowning of the Egyptians,
He says, in effect, do nothing. G-d will do it all. The sages, their ear the revelation at Sinai, and the first tablets). The second involves a
ever attuned to nuance, detected four responses in Moses' words: partnership between G-d and human beings (the battle against the
Our ancestors were divided into four groups at the Sea. One group Amalekites, the construction of the Tabernacle, and the second tablets,
said, "Let us throw ourselves into the sea." Another said, "Let us go back carved by Moses and inscribed by G-d). The difference is immense. In
to Egypt." A third said, "Let us wage war against them." A fourth said, the first of each pair of events, what is evident is the power of G-d and
"Let us cry out against them." To the first, who said, "Let us throw the passivity of man. In the second, what counts is the will of G-d
ourselves into the sea," Moses said, "Stand firm and you will see the internalised by man. G-d is transformed from doer to teacher. In the
deliverance the LORD will bring." To the second, who said, "Let us go process, human beings are transformed from dependency to
back to Egypt," he said, "The Egyptians you see today you will never see interdependency.
again." To the third, who said, "Let us wage war against them," he said, This is the astonishing message contained within a single Hebrew
"The LORD will fight for you." To the fourth, who said, "Let us cry out word, eved, which can mean either "servant" or "slave." In Egypt, the
against them," he said, "you must remain silent." Israelites were Pharaoh's avadim. Leaving Egypt they became G-d's
The battle against the Egyptians was a divine act, not a human one. avadim. The difference, however, is no mere change of masters. The
Not so the Amalekites. Here the battle is fought by the Israelites slave of a human being is one who lacks freedom. The servant of G-d is
themselves: one who is called to freedom - a specific kind of freedom, namely one
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. that respects the freedom of others and the integrity of the created world
Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the (the difference, as seventeenth and eighteenth century writers used to
Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of G-d in put it, between liberty and licence, freedom with and without
my hands." So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and responsibility).
Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held At the heart of the Hebrew Bible is a specific view of humanity, set
up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his out in the first chapters of Bereishith. Human beings are not incurably
hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, evil, tainted by original sin. Nor are we inescapably good. Instead we are
they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur defined by the ability to choose. If we choose well we are "little lower
held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other-so that his hands than the angels." If we choose badly, we are worse than the beasts. We
remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army are not condemned to a perpetual condition of arrested development in
with the sword. which we are utterly dependent on a parent figure, human or divine.
There is no hint here of a miracle. The Israelites fought; the Israelites Such a view fails to accord with the concept of parenthood as articulated
won. The only hint of a supernatural presence is the reference to Moses' in the Hebrew Bible and the rabbinic literature.
hands. Somehow, they held the key to victory. When Moses lifted them, Bereishith, which is about families, is a series of variations on the
the Israelites prevailed. When he lowered them, the tide turned against theme of human parents and children. Shemot, about the birth of a
them. nation, is about a divine parent and his human children (G-d's first
Strangely, but significantly, the Mishnah makes a comment on this command to Moses is, "Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD
passage. The Mishnah is a law code. It is not a book of biblical says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may
interpretation. It is therefore very rare for a biblical exegesis to appear in worship me").
the Mishnah - all the more so given its content. The sages, far from Neither parenthood nor childhood are - the Torah teaches - static
emphasising the supernatural factor in the battle against Amalek, went conditions. They are developmental. In its early years, a child really is
out of their way to minimise it: dependent. Without the attentiveness of a parent, it would not survive.
It is written, "As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were But over the course of time, it develops those capacities that allow it to
winning." Now did the hands of Moses wage war or crush the enemy? mature. During that period, a parent learns progressively to make space
Not so. The text signifies that so long as Israel turned their thoughts for the child to act on its own. This can be doubly heartbreaking. Not only
above and subjected their hearts to their Father in heaven they prevailed, does it involve letting go, which is always a form of bereavement. It also
but otherwise they fell. demands that a parent be strong and self-restrained enough to allow the
G-d, implies the Mishnah, makes a difference not "out there" but "in child to walk, knowing that it will fall; to choose, knowing that it will make
here." Moses' hands did not perform a miracle. They merely pointed
mistakes; to travel, knowing that it will take wrong paths and false turns. clearly bein adam lichavero (an interpersonal mitzvah). Thus, Tu B’Shvat
The "anger" of G-d, so often expressed in the Hebrew Bible, is represents the confluence of both groups of mitzvot: bein adam laMakom
actually not anger but anguish: the anguish of a parent who sees a child and bein adam lichavero.
do wrong but knows that he or she may not intervene if the child is ever Yet, the Gemara (BT Sanhedrin 98a) refers to other aspects of Tu
to grow, to learn, to mature, to change, to become responsible. B’Shvat:
That is the turning point marked by the battles before and after the “And R’ Abba said, ‘There is no clearer [indication] of the keitz (the
division of the Sea. The opening and closing verses of Beshallach both “End”) than this, as it says: “And you, the mountains of Israel, will
contain as their key-word, milchamah, "war". The opening verse states: produce your branches and will bear your fruit for My people Israel…”
When Pharaoh let the people go, G-d did not lead them on the road (Yechezkel 36:8)’
through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For G-d said, "If “R’ Elazar says, ‘[There is] also [no clearer indication of the keitz]
they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." than this, as it says: “For before those days, there were no wages for
The closing verse says: The LORD will be at war against the man nor were there wages for animals; and for him that went out or
Amalekites from generation to generation. came in, there was no peace from the adversary…” (Zechariah 8:10)’
The difference between them is between the war G-d fights for us, “What is ‘for him that went out or came in, there was no peace from
and the war we fight for G-d. The first is miraculous, the second only the adversary’? Rav said, ‘Even talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars) -
metaphorically so. The war G-d fights changes nature, even to the point about whom peace is written, as it is written: “There is abundant peace
of dividing a sea. But the war we fight changes us - and that is something for the lovers of Your Torah” (Tehillim 119:165) – [will have] no peace
G-d cannot do for us. We can only do it for ourselves. As long as the from [the] adversary.’”
Israelites were totally dependent on G-d, they remained querulous and The Gemara speaks for itself. On one hand, we have a flourishing,
quarrelsome, in a state of arrested development. Only when they fought blossoming land, but at the same time, there is no peace – except that
their own battles did they eventually - and painfully slowly - begin to which is enforced by the sword.
acknowledge G-d. (In Jewish law, the command to honour our parents But if that is not enough, we find the following truly astounding
does not apply to a child under the age of thirteen for a boy, twelve for a statement in Avot DiRabi Natan (Nuscha Bet 31):
girl. Only responsible adults can truly honour parents). A true parent is “Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai received [the tradition] from Hillel and
not one who fights battles on our behalf, but one who gives us the inner Shamai. He used to say, ‘If you have studied much Torah do not take
strength to fight for ourselves. That is the difference between the war credit for yourself because you were created for this.’ Because mankind
before and the war after the crossing of the Red Sea. was not created on idle chatter but rather on words of Torah, as it says,
‘For that is your life and the length of your days.’ (Devarim 30:20) [‘Your
life’ – in this world and ‘the length of your days’] in the world to come… If
13 TORA MITZION
The Weekly Parshat Shavua Daf is a Newsletter which includes Divrei Torah on the Parsha, Halacha and
there was a planting in your hand and you were told, ‘behold, here is the
Educational columns, as well as for kids - all in a Zionistic approach. The "Torah MiTzion Kollel" program Mashiach,’ come and plant the planting [and then go out and greet him.]”
establishes centers for the study of Torah and promulgates the connection between Torah and Israel. Torah How can this be?! Our teacher Rav Druckman explains that planting
Mitzion/ "Beit Meir" /54 King George Street /P.O. Box 71109 /Jerusalem, 91710 /Israel Tel: +972-(0)2-620-
9020; http://www.torahmitzion.org/eng/default.asp in Eretz Yisrael and settling the land are the Geulah (the Redemption) in
A SUMMARY OF THE PLAGUES and of themselves. In contrast, when seeing the Mashiach, a person is
Asher Shafrir, former Shaliach, Melbourne passive. Thus, first plant, and then run to greet the Mashiach.
In this parasha we bid farewell to Pharaoh and his people. As we In recent years, Tu B’Shvat has gradually been transformed into a
come across the last punishment that G-d bestows upon this nation, an festival which commemorates our return to our Land. Tu B’Shvat is the
intriguing question arises. What was the role that the Egyptian people anniversary of the Knesset’s establishment, and everyone goes out to
played throughout this entire saga? Did they know about Moshe's plant trees.
demands and warnings? Was it only Pharaoh who controlled the How does all of the above tie in together? The Navi says:
negotiating and did not let the rumor spread, in order that his people will “The voice of your seers - they raised a voice, together they shall
not pressure him to let Am Yisrael go? There are a few plagues that the sing glad song; for eye to eye they shall see when Hashem returns to
Egyptian people are warned and told to take their animals inside in order Tzion.” (Yeshaya 52:8)
that they not get hurt. Did they know the reason for the these plagues? I If matters are that clear, why are the prophets and the seers the ones
tend to believe that they did not know. Pharaoh never seemed to me like who lift their voices? Why won’t everyone “sing glad song”? The answer
the kind of king would share such a crisis with his people. I think that this is that we must look at the Geulah “eye to eye”. With one eye, we must
can also be derived from the pssukim in our parasha. see how good it is, baruch Hashem, in Eretz Yisrael. We must recognize
Prior to the splitting if the sea, when the Egyptian people are how far we have come, in every way, and therefore, we must “thank,
standing just behind Am Yisrael with only the pillar of light splitting laud, praise, glorify” and lift our voices in song. Moreover, we – who are
between them, the pssukim describe the following occurrences. The privileged to live in the generation of the Geulah – are obligated to plant,
verses are quite difficult and the commentators argue what is the correct redeem, and do everything in our power in order to advance the coming
explanation of the words but we will try to sum up what happens. The of the Mashiach. However, with our other eye, we are well aware how
angel, who until now led Am Yisrael, moved behind them - in front of the much we need rachamei Shamayim (Heaven’s mercies) and how
Egyptians. The cloud and the pillar of light move to the back of Am insignificant and p owerless we are.
Yisrael as well – lighting up the night. Moshe raises his stick toward the “Hashem’s kindnesses surely never cease…” (Eichah 3:22)
sea and there is strong Eastern wind all night. The water splits and the MANNA AND THE FRUITS OF THE LAND
ground becomes dry. Am Yisrael walks into the water when the waters Rav Moshe Lichtman
are like two walls on both sides. The Egyptians follow and as the sun This week’s d’var Torah relates not only to the parashah, but also to
rises Hashem creates a great confusion in the Egyptian camp. Tu BeSh’vat, which usually falls out in close proximity to the reading of
In these verses we can be reminded of things that already happened Parashat BeShalach.
during the ten plagues. The fact that two different things happen to the The second half of BeShalach discusses the manna that the Jews
Jews and to the Egyptians although they are so close to each other, is ate in the desert. One of the last verses in that section states, The
something that we saw already in a few plagues. Moreover, during the Children of Israel ate the manna for forty years, until they arrived in an
first plague the Egyptians dug around the Nile in order to find water. Here inhabited land. They ate the manna until they arrived at the border of the
the situation is the opposite. G-d "digs" into the Nile and makes it into Land of Canaan (16:35). R. Avraham Azulai (grandfather of the Chida)
soil. The Eastern wind that blows all night already appeared in the plague asks a very interesting question in his Kabbalistic work, Chesed
of the locust. Last, the fact that there is light all night is opposed to the LeAvraham: Why did the manna stop falling when t he Israelites entered
plague of darkness where the day was dark. the Land of Israel? One would have thought that if God provided them
The point of these comparisons can be found in the following passuk. with manna in an unholy land, He would certainly do so in the Holy Land,
The Egyptians are quoted as saying: “We shall flee from Israel as G-d is where His providence is even greater.
fighting for them in Egypt.” This can be understood that the Egyptians are The standard answer is that the situation in the desert – where God
saying that G-d is fighting them now. The mechilta sees it differently. protected and fed the Jewish people in a clearly miraculous fashion –
"They said: He who did the miracles for them (for Am Yisrael) in Egypt is was unnatural. It was meant to last only temporarily. The ideal situation,
now doing miracles for them in the sea". According to this Midrash, the and the one which HaShem originally intended, is for the Jewish people
Egyptians now understand. They were shown before the splitting of the to dwell in their Land and receive their physical sustenance by the sweat
sea a bit of all the plagues that they suffered until now. This was the of their brows, in an (apparently) natural fashion.
momen t that the Egyptians realized that what they suffered until now The Chesed LeAvraham, however, answers the question differently.
was part of G-d's big plan to take Am Yisrael out of Egypt and that they We have learnt previously (see VaYeitzei, “The Palace of the King”) that
will receive the Torah. Divine Providence in Eretz Yisrael is much stronger than it is in Chutz
Tu B’Shvat LaAretz. In fact, it is of a completely different nature. In Chutz LaAretz,
Rav Yitzhak Neriya, former Rosh Kollel, Montreal angelic ministers oversee what is happening, and they care for the needs
Tu B’Shvat’s date (the 15th of Shvat) is obvious. In this article, we of those who dwell there. In Eretz Yisrael, however, God Himself is
will discuss the day’s essence and deeper meaning. Also, we will focus directly in charge. He provides for our needs without any intermediaries.
on Tu B’Shvat’s specific customs and obligations and determine the Th is, says the Chesed LeAvraham, is why manna did not fall in Eretz
source for Tu B’Shvat. Yisrael:
Halachically, Tu B’Shvat is the date used to distinguish between Everything in the desert comes from the external, impure [forces] that
trees whose fruit ripened beforehand and those whose fruit ripened grow in the lands of the nations – the domain of the [angelic] ministers.
afterwards. Why do we need to know when the fruit ripened? Mainly, we Therefore, their fruits are unworthy of receiving sacred spirituality, for an
need to know whether to separate ma’aser ani or ma’aser sheni. During impure “body” cannot become a receptacle for sacred spirituality. And
the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th years of the shmitah cycle, ma’aser sheni – had this sanctity been implanted in the fruits and food [of these lands], it
which is to be eaten in Yerushalayim – is separated in Eretz Yisrael. would all have come from the ministers, God forbid... Therefore, the
Meanwhile, during the 3rd and 6th years of the shmitah cycle, a person Holy One Blessed be He gave [the Jews] manna from heaven, which has
must separate ma’aser ani (“the tithe of the poor”). Or, if you prefer, absolutely no connection to the [angelic] ministers. [I.e., during the forty
ma’aser sheni – which must be eaten “on the holy mountain in Yerushala years in the desert, HaShem w anted to have a special relationship with
yim” (Yeshaya 27:13) – is an expression of bein adam laMakom (a His children. He, therefore, bypassed the angels and sustained the Jews
mitzvah which is between man and Hashem), but ma’aser ani is directly.] The fruits of Eretz Yisrael, however, come from
holiness; and the spirituality that was fitting for the manna attached itself
to these holy fruits. This is why the manna existed in the desert and not
in Eretz Yisrael. (Chesed LeAvraham, Nahar 21, Ein HaAretz; quoted in
Midrash Talpiot, Anaf Eretz Yisrael, Alef)
In other words, the manna did not really cease to exist once the Jews
entered Eretz Yisrael; it simply changed its form. Instead of getting direct
sustenance from God miraculously, we now get it naturally (or so it
seems) – through the holy fruits of His Land. This is an amazing
concept: The fruits of Eretz Yisrael are on the same level and serve the
same purpose as manna from heaven! What a zechut to live in a Land
where one gets his sustenance directly from God!
Thus, dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is so special because it enables us to
get closer to HaShem. Since He alone provides our needs, we develop
a more intimate relationship with Him. R. Avraham of Sochatchov, better
known as the Avnei Neizer, uses this concept to explain why most of the
Chassidic masters did not attempt to live in Eretz Yisrael in the 1800’s
and early 1900’s. Since these rabbis had no source of income, they
would have been forced to subsist off donations from Chutz LaAretz.
This would have defeated the purpose of living in the Land, for their
sustenance would have come through the agency of intermediary angels.
One fulfills the mitzvah of Yishuv HaAretz to the fullest extent –
according to the Avnei Neizer – only if one finds a means of support from
the Land itself.
Today, Baruch HaShem, it is relatively easy to make a living here in
Israel and thus achieve a greater closeness to God. In addition, we have
the opportunity to eat the holy fruits of the Land and get a “taste” of the
manna. I might add that this year the fruits are even holier, because they
have kedushat shevi’it (the sanctity of the seventh year). Actually, the
fruits are sanctified every year, due to the numerous mitzvot connected
to the produce of the Land. The more mitzvot one fulfills through the fr
uits, the more sanctified they become. (This is similar to the concept that
reciting a blessing before and after food sanctifies the food.)
I truly wonder why any God-fearing Jew would willingly turn down
From Rav Lichtman’s “Eretz Yisrael In The Parashah”, published by
LOOKING BACK: YAIR STERN
Yaniv Akiva, former Shlaliach, Montreal
Avraham Stern was born in Poland to a Zionist family. He made
aliyah in 1925 and joined the Haganah in 1929.
In 1931, several Haganah fighters, who objected to the
organization’s policy of restraint and moderation, broke away and formed
their own underground movement: the Etzel, which was an acronym for
Irgun Tzva’i Leumi (literally, Military – Nationalistic Organization). Stern,
whose views had become radicalized following the 1929 Arab riots, was
an active member of the Etzel. He adopted the nom de guerre “Yair” after
Eliezer ben Yair, the Zealot leader at Masada.
Stern viewed the British – rather than the Arabs – as the Jews’
primary foe and as the greatest obstacle to Jewish independence. He
therefore issued a strident call for armed struggle against the British.
Together with David Raziel, he compiled a handbook on operating a
pistol; it was the first Hebrew-language manual of its kind. Stern also
wrote “Unknown Soldiers”, the Etzel’s anthem which was later adopted
by the Lechi as well. A collection of Stern’s poems were published
In 1937, following the Arab riots, the Etzel split into two, and many
members returned to the Haganah. However, Stern and several other
men refused to accept the Haganah leadership’s authority and remained
in the Etzel under Zeev Jabotinsky. They continued their anti-British
activities, and Stern traveled to Poland in order to raise funds and
organize training courses. Upon his return, he was nabbed by the British
and imprisoned from August 1938, until June 1940.
Stern insisted that the struggle against the British should be free of
any political affiliation – including Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Party. He also
opposed any attempt whatsoever to ease up in the fight against the
British. Thus, in August 1940, when the Etzel decided to refrain from
attacking the British during World War II, Stern formed the Lechi, which
was an acronym for Lochamei Cherut Yisrael (literally, Israel Freedom
Fighters). The Lechi was a radical, oppositionist group, which continued
to clash with the British, despite the ongoing war against the Nazis. In
fact, Stern claimed that the British were a bigger threat to the Jews of
Zion than the Nazis. He was not convinced that the Allies would emerge
victorious over Nazi Germany, and since he believed that it would help
achieve a Jewish national home in Eretz Yisrael, he even advocated an
alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
Due to Stern’s extremism and several of the Lechi’s provocations,
the local Jewish community refused to support the organization, which
was hounded by the British. In 5702 (1942), the British put a price on
Stern’s head. Stern hid in Tova and Moshe Savorai’s attic in Tel Aviv’s
Florentine neighborhood, and on 25 Shvat 5702 (February 12, 1942), the
British discovered his hiding-place in a clothes closet. He was unarmed.
Stern was tied to a chair and executed without trial by Inspector Geoffrey
Morton and Thomas Wilkin, who claimed that Stern had tried to escape –
a claim that was later proven to be a lie.
The name of the street where the apartment is situated was later
changed to Yair Street, and the building is known as Beit Yair and serves
as the Lechi Museum.