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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parashas Beshalach

Always in the Sea

"And the Children of Israel came through the sea on dry land" (Shemos 14:22). Contrast this with the verse, "And the Children of Israel went on dry land through the sea" (Shemos 14:29). Why did the two verses switch the words "dry land" and "sea"? The Noam Elimelech answers this question as follows. When the Jewish people were going through the sea they saw and felt the awesome miracles that Hashem had done for them. They were able to walk through the sea like a man who is walking on the ground. Contemplation of these wonders brought them to an even higher madrayga (spiritual level). They realized that all of nature is as much of a miracle as the splitting of the sea. This is the level of "dry land through the sea". When you are on dry land, in your ordinary daily life, you see yourself as if you were in the sea. The miracles of nature are as apparent to you as the miracle of the splitting of the sea.

Our sages mention three things that are as difficult (so to speak) for Hashem as Kriyas Yam Suf. Providing a person's food, finding a person's marital partner, and keeping a person's body functioning properly. Imagine all of the might and power that it took to split the sea. The precision to blaze twelve tunnels through the water, tile them with marble floors, supply them with fruit trees and beautiful aromas. Then the drowning of the Mitzrim in the sea. This was a technological feat unparalleled in history! Or was it? Our sages tell us that these other feats are equally amazing. We just have to work a little harder to see the hidden miracles in these events.

Kinderlach . . .

Just imagine that you were there at the Yam Suf. The situation looked hopeless. Then you plunged into the sea. The water was cold, up to your nose. Suddenly the sea split, in all of its glory and beauty. You were saved and the Mitzrim were drowned. Imagine how you would sing Shira with all of your heart. That is how you should say it every day. Did you eat a delicious lunch today? Providing that food is as big a miracle as the Yam Suf. Are you healthy? Another miracle. What about Imma and Abba? How did they find each other to be married? Yet another miracle. Think of all these miracles and put all of your heart into thanking Hashem for them and all of His kindness.

The Day of Emunah

"Safeguard the Shabbos to sanctify it, as Hashem, your G-d has commanded you" (Devarim 5: 12). This verse is from the passage that reviews the Aseres HaDibros, in parashas Voeschanan. Why does it add the words, "as Hashem, your G-d has commanded you?" Rashi answers that the Bnei Yisrael were commanded to observe the Shabbos at Mara, before Matan Torah. The Bnei Yisrael came to Mara three days after Kriyas Yam Suf. It was their first stop after witnessing the awesome miracles at the sea. The Auruch HaShulchan (Orach Chaim 242:1) relates that this was the perfect time to receive the mitzvah of Shabbos. Why?

Hashem Himself sanctified the seventh day from the very beginning of creation. "Hashem blessed the seventh day and sanctified it" (Bereshis 2:3). Its holiness and blessing is greater than any other day. It is also a remembrance of the act of creation. Klal Yisrael, His Holy Nation, are the ones entrusted with keeping the Shabbos. Every Shabbos, we refrain from melacha, and by doing so we demonstrate that Hashem created the universe.

The miracles of Yetzias Mitzraim, which culminated in Kriyas Yam Suf, proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Hashem is running the world. He is The Mashgiach of everything. This was the pinnacle of emunah. Therefore, three days later was the perfect time to lay down another cornerstone in the foundation of emunah. The knowledge that The Almighty created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh is equal in weight to the whole Torah. One who violates the Shabbos is compared to an idol worshipper. Therefore, the observance of Shabbos is both a testimony, and a method to strengthen our emunah in Hashem's creation of the world.

Kinderlach . . .

We have a very important job. To testify that Hashem created the world. How do we do this? By guarding the holiness of Shabbos. Learn the halachos well and review them. It is a lifetime study. Your emunah will grow along with your knowledge. You will find your observance of Shabbos improving. You will also notice an increase in your appreciation of the kedusha of Shabbos. And you may also notice an increase in the blessing from the Shabbos. What a wonderful gift Hashem has given us!

Mitzvos and Middos

The Meshech Chochma 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 Mitzrayim." 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 help us again now, as He helped us in Mitzrayim. It is all up to us.

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