Parsha Beshalach 5767: Being As One With Our Brother’s Difficulties

by, Moshe Burt

Our Parsha opens by stating; “It happened when Pharoh sent out the people that Hashem did not lead them by the way of the Philistines, because it was near, for Hashem said, ‘Perhaps the people will reconsider when they see a war, and they will return to Mitzriyim.'” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 13, posuk 17)

Torah Gems cites a vort from R’ Baruch Abba Rakowsky who says; “Perhaps the people will reconsider when they see a war, and they will return to Mitzriyim.”

Rav Rakowsky asks why, after escaping from such a terrible enslavement, would the first problem they faced drive them to return to Mitzriyim? He reasons that all that the B’nai Yisrael had wanted was to be freed of their terrible physical work. They never dreamed of liberation from the enslavement. Because of the absence of such a dream, there was ample reason to fear that at the first sign of difficulty they would return to Mitzriyim. (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Volume 2, page 100)

Then, a little further into our Parsha, “Hashem said to Moshe; Why do you cry to me, speak to the B’nai Yisrael, that they go forward.” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 14, posuk 15)

Torah Gems then brings a vort from Sefat Emet; “Why do you cry to me …” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 14, posuk 15) “Didn’t Moshe know that Hashem would keep his promise and smite the Mitzriyim? Rather, Moshe’s love for his fellow Jews was so great that when he saw how much they were suffering, he lost his patience and was unable to prevent himself from expressing how he felt.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Volume 2, page 107)

Torah Gems also cites R’ Yisrael Salanter who also asks why Moshe’s impatience regard Hashem’s promise. “Did Moshe, Heaven Forbid, doubt that Hashem would fulfill his promise? Didn’t he trust Hashem? Rather, when it is at the expense of the Jewish people, one should not live on trust.” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Volume 2, pages 107-108) Torah Gems adds as well, that R’ Yisrael Salanter often said “that a Jew has to be a heretic to a certain extent and if someone comes to him [a Jew], he should not trust Hashem to help the person. Instead he [the Jew] must do whatever he can to help a person in need. He was also accustomed to say; ‘One should worry about the other Jew’s body and one’s own soul, and not vice-versa.'” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Volume 2, pages 108)

Near the end of our Parsha, we read “And the hands of Moshe were heavy and they took a rock and placed it under him and he sat on it.” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 17, posuk 12)

Rabbi Pliskin in Growth Through Torah cites a Rashi which states “that
Moshe did not sit on a comfortable pillow, but a rock. There was a battle going on with Amalek and Moshe wanted to feel the suffering of the people. This, said Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, is a lesson in feeling for another person’s suffering. Not only should we mentally feel their pain, but it is proper to do some action in order to feel some of the discomfort yourself when someone else experiences pain. This way [through empathy] you actually feel his pain.” (Growth Through Torah, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, page 177, citing from Daas Torah, page 152)

What these three citings from our Parsha indicate is that Moshe Rabbeinu was as one with the entire B’nai Yisrael. He made himself to feel what the B’nai Yisrael was feeling in order not to lead from aloof or afar, and to beseech Hashem on their behalf, knowing what suffering they were undergoing.

This spirit within Moshe Rabbeinu, set a standard which we, in contemporary times, are hard-pressed to emulate; that being the need, the compulsion to act in tangible, meaningful ways to manifest our oneness and bonding with both our Land with our Brethren regarding the myriad gross injustices, harrassment, persecution, legalized theft and more suffered at the hands of a regime in Israel diabolically opposed to and divorced from Torah and which seeks to eradicate the Jew from Israelis.

This same standard of spirit within Moshe Rabbeinu is needed regarding bonding with one’s fellow Jews regarding more localized but no less important needs.

In a previous post, this author quoted from a Parsha sheet for Parsha Vayeshev written several years ago by Rabbi Yaakov Haber. It bears repeating here;

Has anyone said “Hineini” lately? Our kids are at risk, our brothers and sisters are being shot at and bombed! Our communities are fragmented. We have shiduchim problems and parnossa problems. Assimilation is at an all time high.

Most of us sit at the sidelines, observe and comment. It’s not good enough – we have to do something, we have to say “Hineini”! If there are kids that need help, come find out what you can do with a couple of hours a week.

Make a connection with a terrorist victim in Israel that is being ignored.

As the world is changing so drastically and quickly, we have to change. We have to change our priorities and our schedules. Just as much. Like Yosef, we can no longer avoid the issues…. Like Yosef, each one of us has to consider what we can do, and say “Hineini” – I’m here and I’m ready – to do what ever needs to be done for G-d and His people; and like Yosef, we will succeed.

This vort serves as kind of a segue regarding the currrent fund raising for the Sefer Torah being purchased and restored by The Sefer Torah Recycling Network for placement in Yishuv Adura in memory of 5 of it’s residents who perished due to Arab Izlamikazi terror, 4 of them on a Shabbos in April, 2002 as Arabs infiltrated the Yishuv dressed as Chayalim and another who died two months previously in a suicide bombing (pig’ua) on Motsei Shabbos in Jerusalem. By memorializing the victims through donation of a Sefer Torah, by restoring a used, previoously posul Sefer Torah to service for a needy Kehilla lacking it’s own Torah, by unifying neshamot who have heretofore leyned, kissed and danced with the Sefer with those yet hold, leyn, kiss and dance with it we are reaching levels in Shemayim which we can’t begin to fathom.

Perhaps, just perhaps, in caring for and feeling as one with our fellow Jew, one cannot know which mitzvah might just tip the scales and bring divine end to those who oppress us, both within and without.

May we be zocha in this coming year that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and the 3 captive Chayalim and the other MIAs be liberated and returned to us and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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