Whose Warmth and Dedication Inspired Us All From Her Children,
Grandchildren, and Great-Grandchildren
"Grab everything that you can. There are fortunes lying here on the sea shore!"
"Here is a gold chain."
"Look, diamonds and pearls. We're rich!"
"Moshe Rabbeinu, is signaling for us to go. We must leave the shores of the Yam Suf."
"How can we leave now? There is so much more money to gather."
"And Moshe made Israel travel from the Yam Suf" (Shemos 15:22). Rashi explains in the name of the Mechilta that Moshe forced them to leave. The spoils at the Yam Suf were greater than the booty of Mitzraim. The Jewish people did not want to stop gathering the gold, silver, and precious gems. The Keli Yakar zt"l elaborates even more. Moshe was fearful that the wealth would bring them to sin. Indeed, he was correct because the abundance of gold brought them to make the Egel HaZahav (Golden Calf). Moshe was also concerned that the riches would render the Jewish people unfit to receive the Torah. Wealth and Torah flee from one another like two wives of the same husband. As Dovid HaMelech wrote "It is good that I am afflicted (with suffering or poverty), in order that I might learn Your laws" (Tehillim 119:71).
Moshe's second concern also materialized three days later. "And they went three days in the desert without finding water" (Shemos 15:22). This was middah kineged middah (measure for measure) explains the Keli Yakar. Hashem told them that they would serve Him on this mountain (Har Sinai). They should have run from the Yam Suf toward the mountain. Instead, they gathered wealth. This excess money made them unfit to receive the Torah, which is compared to water. Therefore, they found no water.
Kinderlach . . .
Everything in life is a test, including riches. Wealth has a strong power to draw you away from Torah. It offers all of the pleasures and attractions of the physical world. They are only shallow and fleeting compared to the sweetness of Torah. Kinderlach, don't you want the best of everything in life? Why settle for second, third or fourth-rate enjoyment, when you can have the ultimate pleasure . . . Torah.
"Look at that Mitzri, he sank straight to the bottom of the Yam Suf like a piece of lead. He drowned instantly."
"I recognize him. He was my taskmaster and he was fair to me. That other one is not having it so easy. He is going down slower, like a stone."
"He was not so good to the Jews, but there were worse ones than him. Look at that one over there."
"He is going up and down over and over again like a piece of straw. He is choking, gagging and struggling, but not drowning. He was very cruel to the slaves. Look at how Hashem is punishing him." (Based on Rashi - Shemos 15:5.)
"Hashem will make war for you, and you will remain silent" (Shemos 14:14). The Mechilta comments that Hashem's fighting was not limited to that one time. Rather all throughout history, He will wage war against our enemies. The Meshech Chochma zt"l explains that Hashem was forced (so to speak) to fight for two reasons. They did tshuva. Secondly, they had a claim against Him (why did you take us out of Mitzraim to die here in the wilderness?). Even if we do not have such a claim, Hashem in His infinite kindness will continue to fight for us.
Kinderlach . . .
Our enemies outnumber us, they are stronger, and they have more weapons. What can we do? How can we win? Without the help of Hashem, we cannot win. The scenario repeated itself many times during the days of the Prophets and Judges. The people sinned and their enemies overcame them. They did tshuva and their enemies were defeated. Hashem fought for them. He will fight for us. However, we must do tshuva. Now is the time.
Mitzvos and Middos
The Meshech Chochma zt"l in his commentary on the splitting of the Yam Suf shares a deep insight with us. If one contemplates upon the ways of the Torah, he sees a fascinating phenomenon. An individual who violates the mitzvos that forbid certain actions and deeds (such as worshipping idols) receives a punishment administered by Beis Din (Rabbinical Court). On the other hand, his transgression of the mitzvos that obligate him to have good middos (character traits), such as proper speech and making peace with his fellow Jews, require no Rabbinical punishment. The rules governing the punishment of the community are opposite from those of the individual. If there is proper speech and peace among the members of the community, they can be committing the worst sins and they will not be punished on a communal level. However, if there is bickering and fighting in the community, they may be excellent in their observance of other mitzvos, however the Shechina (Divine Presence) will depart from them and they will receive communal punishment. Therefore, we see that Hashem forgave the Chet HaEgel (Sin of the Golden Calf). However, He did not forgive the Chet HaMeraglim (Sin of the Spies) which entailed loshon hora, and the entire generation had to die in the desert.
"The water was a wall for them" (Shemos 14:22). The angel asked Hashem, "Why do you perform miracles for these people? They worshipped idols in Mitzraim." Hashem responded that they excelled in their middos. They did not speak loshon hora and they loved one another.
Kinderlach . . .
Now you see the key to receiving Hashem's assistance -- peace among us. Do not say anything bad about your fellow Jews. Run away from an argument, as you would flee from a fire. Hashem will then fight for us now, as He fought the Mitzrim. It is all up to us.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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