Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beshalach: Guest Post By My Student Amanda Parker

In this week’s Parsha, Parsha Beshalach, we discuss a few major events that will never be forgotten. One of the stories that we like to speak about often and tell the story of over and over, is the splitting of the Red Sea. However, just before we approach the sea, and are about to witness one of the greatest miracles that happened to our nation, Beni Yisroal see in the distance that Pharaoh and the Egyptians are chasing after the Jews. As the see this, they say to Moshe “Is it that there were no graves in Egypt that Hashem had to take us away to die in the wilderness? Why did Hashem have to take us out of Egypt?”

There are many instances like this that occur throughout Chumash. Beni Yisroel complains often and doubts Hashem’s hand. Why does the Torah feel the need to keep mentioning the faults of the generation? Rav Hirsh answers that the complaint in this weeks Parsha strengthens the story of receiving of the Torah in next weeks Parsha.

This generation was not a spiritually easy generation. They were people who were not easily swayed one way or another and needed concrete reasons to believe in G-D and his powers. We see this in this week’s Parsha. Beni Yisroel had just witnessed the ten plagues and the leaving of Egypt. Yet, when they were faced with a sea in front of them, it did not cross their minds to think that G-D can just perform another miracle. Their minds did not think in another realm, they were practical.

This story strengthens next weeks Parsha of receiving of the Torah. This generation wouldn’t have accepted all these Mitzvot and requirements upon themselves if they had not been fully convinced. What they witnessed must have been enough to convince a generation of spiritual skeptics and practical rationalists that the Torah was the truth. It wasn’t some overly holy, G-d loving generation that accepted the Torah. It was a generation with doubts, convictions and rational thinkers.

Receiving of the Torah to them was a final conformation. What they must have seen was undeniable. They had doubts and they had doubts after but receiving of the Torah was enough to convince them to lead a life committed fully and wholly to Hashem. Our belief in Judaism is strengthened by this. What makes Judaism unique is that we believe in a mass revelation that occurred. Hashem did not speak to a single prophet; he spoke to multitudes of people. People who we see were not so easily convinced. These people became the Jewish nation and through this came many generations of Jews who themselves may have had certain doubts, but never wavered in belief that Hashem spoke to their ancestors at the Mountain of Sinai. May we all lead a life fully committed to remembering the greatness of Hashem!