Parshat Beshalach 5784: The Circuitous Route — Then and Now?

Shalom Friends:

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Beshalach is being sponsored by R’ Moshe and Marla Braun (Moshe Braun – Fine Judaic Art) and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of Marla’s birthday on 14th Sh’vat and for Israel’s total victory and eradication of Hamas and their terrrorist buddies, safe return of all chayalim — physically, mentally and spiritually, and liberation of all hostages held by the Wild Beasts.

Also Sponsoring is Julian Hurwitz of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated Lilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of his Father Shlomo Leib ben Chaim Ephraim and for shmirat hanefesh, refuat hanefesh for tzahal, the hostages and the wounded. To the Braun family and to Julian Hurwitz, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Beshalach 5784: The Circuitous Route — Then and Now?

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin cites the opening posuk of our Parshat Beshalach in his sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text” on Sefer Shemos and comments (page 101 – 104) :

“And it was when Pharaoh sent out the people, and Hashem did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines [P’lishtim as transliterated from the Hebrew text], ki karov hu (as it was near), for Hashem said: ‘lest the people reconsider upon seeing war, and return to Egypt.'” (Rabbi Shmuel Goldin rendered to English Sefer Shemos, Perek 13, posuk 17)

The B’nei Yisrael have to learn to fight their own battles.

With the Jews’ liberation from Egypt, the rules begin to change. Until now, …Hashem fought on their behalf. Now, the transition to independence requires that the B’nei Yisrael must learn to fend for themselves. Even… when… Hashem does intervene to complete the destruction of Egyptian might in the waters of the Reed Sea, Hashem does not act [against the Egyptians and their chariots] until the B’nei Yisrael take their destiny into their own hands and begin to move into the sea. (Rabbi Goldin citing Rashi on Sefer Shemos, Perek 14, posuk 15)

Had Hashem waged a Divine battle against the P’lishtim, had He even miraculously protected the B’nei Yisrael from attack, the wrong message would have been transmitted. The time has come for the Jews to begin fighting their own battles. They are ill-prepared for such a challenge, however, at this moment. Hashem, therefore, moves to avoid the confrontation.

The word “ki,” according to the Talmud, translates variably in the Torah, dependent upon the context: “Reish Lachish said: ‘Ki serves four possible meanings — if, perhaps, however, because.'” (Rabbi Goldin citing Talmud Bavli Gittin 90a) Of these four translations, only “because” fits our passage. That interpretation, however, leaves… the basic question, why would Hashem avoid a specific path “because it was near”?

Numerous commentaries, including Rashi and the Ibn Ezra, offer a straight-forward pshat approach… which preserves the translation of “ki” as “because Hashem avoids taking the Am Yisrael through P’lishtim territory because of the proximity of this path to Egypt would have… facilitated the Am’s retreat from battle.

The Rashbam… explains that Hashem’s concern for the Jews transcended the possibility of war with the P’lishtim alone. The path through P’lishtim territory was “near” — the most direct route to… Canaan. The Jews, however were not prepared for all of the battles that would face them in the conquest of the land. Hashem, therefore, diverts them from the shortest way to Canaan and leads them on a circuitous path in order to prevent a disheartened retreat to Egypt. (Rabbi Goldin citing Rashbam on Sefer Shemos, Perek 13, posuk 17)

It would seem that part of preparing the B’nei Yisrael to act independently, i.e. to fight their own battles, was to instill self-pride.

During the night of the plague of the first-born when the first-born of Egypt, from Pharaoh, his aides, on down to the Egyptian masses were dying, The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash notes (Sefer Shemos, pages 357 – 359) :

Pharaoh came running through the streets looking for Moshe and Aaron. Instead of going back to Goshen, they had stayed in Egypt proper for the night, because Moshe had told Pharaoh that all his [Pharaoh’s] courtiers would come to him, bowing and asking the Jews to leave. (ibid, citing Sefer Shemos, Perek 11, posuk 8) Moshe then sent angels to Goshen to tell the Jews to assemble in Rameses the next morning for the going up from Egypt. According to the Mechilta, Moshe responded to the Egyptian insistence for an immediate departure by saying, “Are we thieves that we should depart at night? We will leave with an upraised arm [i.e. proudly] in full view of all Egypt.” (ibid, citing Ramban)

Rabbi Goldin notes (“Unlocking the Torah Text” on Sefer Shemos, page 104) :

The final scene of Beshalach describes the unprovoked attack upon the Jews by the nation of Amalek and the ensuing battle from which the erstwhile [adjective: former; of times past] slaves emerge triumphant.

The band of Jews, slaves, ready to retreat at the first hint of hostilities, has evolved, by the end of Beshalach, into a successful fighting force. The march toward nationhood has begun in earnest.

The modern-day Israeli military has, over the 75 years of Israel’s modern-day nationhood, become one of the most potent, powerful fighting machines in the world. Witness the Six-Day War, the great military turn-around from near catastrophe on the two fronts of the Yom Kippur War and the daring Entebbe rescue of the 103 remaining Israeli hostages and flight crew. However, the evolvement of hubris (noun: excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance) and over-dependence on technology rather than human intelligence by the top military commanders led, 50 years plus 1 day after the Yom Kippur war, to the barbaric, animalistic attack by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all of their terrorist buddies on Israel on 7 October, 2023, the killing of over 1,200 Jews on that day, thousands injured, over 240 Jews and others taken hostage — the worst, most horrific carnage of Jews since the Sho’a and the deaths in battle of over 130 Chayalim as of this writing.

Both the top military commanders — the generals, and the political/governmental leaders bear grave responsibility for the heinous 7 October attack on two levels. The top military commanders in terms of discounting credible intelligence repeatedly reported by their subordinates — even threatening a subordinate with incarceration, bringing about incarceration of others who reported on similar preparations by barbarians to strike in Yehudah and the Shomron and other decision-making blunders.

And the apparent spiritual weakness of political/governmental leaders who seemingly lack the strength of Character to stand strong against forces, both internally: the leftists of the so-called “Kaplan group” who have disguised their disruptions regarding judicial reform by accusing and berating the current war-time government as not caring about or not prioritizing bringing home all of the hostages, and externally: bowing to, and allowing the US administration and the “UN” to invoke a double-standard upon us, to make demands, with possible leverage of future military aid and support, over how Israel should be conducting the war, invoking dual standards concerning Gazan “civilians” which the US and all other national armies have never adhered to in any conflict in history.

This Parshat HaShavua was entitled “The Circuitous Route — Then and Now.” So, what is the circuitous route today? In our times, with Israel as a sovereign national entity, the circuitous route obviously is not “because” of concern about “return to Egypt.” Our “circuitous route,” and it may be unpopular and politically incorrect to say, is about this double-standard mandating concern about the conduct and elongation of this war because of the military and the government giving more concern to the welfare of Gazan civilians, many or most of which either support Hamas or actually act in tandem with Hamas against our Chayalim, or as recently reported, Gazan civilians possibly in tandem with Hamas in killing and capturing and taking hostages on 7 October, as well as bowing to the will of the US administration, rather than showing strength of conviction and Emunah in Hashem. Both Jonathan Pollard, in his discussions at Machon Shilo, and Caroline Glick have discussed these issues and more in youtube videos regarding the government bowing to, and allowing the US administration to make demands, with possible leverage of future military aid and support, over how Israel should be conducting the war, invoking dual standards concerning Gazan “civilians.”

B’Ezrat Hashem that this war ends with total, complete Israeli victory and eradication of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and all the barbaric terrorism, that our Chayalim return home whole: physically, mentally and spiritually, that the remaining hostages are liberated and return home for medical treatment and are soon on the road to totally recovery: physically, mentally and spiritually and that kol Klal Yisrael unifies now and forever.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and returned to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Happy Tu B’Shevat and 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.