Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beshalach (When [he] let go) - Shemos (Exodus) 13:17 - 17:16

Setting out!  At last!  Don’t forget Yosef’s bones, or the bones of any of the fathers!  HaShem has remembered them, and they have remembered to bring along their dead.  Though armed, the L-rd did not want to lead the people by way of the Philistines even though it was along the shortest path to Eretz Yisra’el.  They were not strong enough nor prepared to engage in war yet.  The time would come soon.  Besides, there was a very important destination on the way to the land of promise  - Mt. Sinai!

So they traveled along the edge of the Wilderness being led by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.  The pillars led the people.  As seemingly occurs with all men, once Pharaoh and his people were no longer being harassed by the L-rd, their hearts returned to their  “normal” state.  They were not going to let their workforce escape; they were not defeated - yet.  However, The Almighty, having strengthened the hearts of Pharaoh and his people, was leading the Mitzrayim into a trap.  He informed Moshe of His plan so that Moshe could lead the people to the right place to trap the enemy.

Looking at this from the outside, it would appear that the Children of Yisra’el were confused, lost in the Wilderness area, trapped!  Even to those leaving the land of Egypt it would appear to be this way.  What was happening?  Did Moshe know what he was doing?  We will be annihilated!  However, the commander does not communicate the plan to all those taking part in it - only to those who need to know.  In this case, Moshe.  Are there activities that I should be doing that are going to affect people in Botswana?  Paraguay?  Timor?  Iran?  Antarctica?  the space station?  Yisra’el?  If so, I haven’t been informed.  But that should not deter me from being who I am and doing that which I have been called to do.

The people are afraid for they see they are trapped.  Though they blame Moshe, he, already having received the Word of the L-rd, expresses his confidence in the victory to come.  At the same time he is being called to action by HaShem.  As he and the children act in obedience, the L-rd will be glorified through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.

The protection in front of them moved to become their rearguard, and the escape from the ancient Battle of the Bulge commenced, this time without boats.  It was an east wind which split and dried up the crossing point.  The people of G-d were traveling all night with the wind, probably not a breeze, in their faces.  So much for the Irish blessing of “may the wind be always at your back...”  The rearguard removed itself at the right time, and the foe rode into the pathway of escape.  But for them, there would be no escape!  As in the days of Noah, the water bought the judgement of G-d, this time upon the Egyptian army.

As the bodies of the enemy force washed up on shore, they people noticed the great hand that YHWH had placed upon their foe.  For the first time we read “and the people revered HaShem, and they had faith in HaShem and in Moshe, His servant.  My thought at this point is that just as Pharaoh’s heart went back and forth, so will those of this multitude.

A song.  A responsive song?  Perhaps.  A spontaneous singing of the same words led by the Ruach HaKodesh?  Again perhaps.  A song of rejoicing and praise nevertheless.  A ballad, the first ballad.  A couple key verses for me are as follows.  The personalization with which the people sing is key as in chapter 15:2 (“The might and vengeance of G-d was salvation for me.  This is my G-d, and I will build Him a sanctuary: the G-d of my father and I will exalt Him”).  Notice the present and the past bing acknowledged.  Likewise the future is considered as in verses 16 and 17 if the same chapter (“May fear and terror befall them, at the greatness of Your arm may they be still as stone; until Your people passes through, HaShem - until this people You have acquired passes through.  You will bring them and implant them on the mount of Your heritage, the foundation of Your dwelling place that You, HaShem, have made - the Sanctuary, my L-rd, that Your hands established”).

On to the Wilderness.  Three days and no water.  A water hole of bitter water is found.  Complaining against Moshe ensues.  Is it his fault?  He seeks the L-rd, as we should do at all times, and the answer is revealed.  Fresh water!  But as stated before, where are the people’s hearts?  Ten plagues, dry land, fresh water from bitter, meat to eat, manna gathered at the proper time and in the prescribed amounts, and water again at Rephidim.  The song at the eastern edge of the Red Sea is not in their hearts any longer.  The One Who provided does not seem to be providing on time now, and the hoard are blaming Moshe.

As if that is not bad enough, the Amalekites have come to do battle.  However, the L-rd is not caught off guard.  Moshe takes action; he gives directives to Yehoshua, Aharon, and Hur.  It seems that he has learned that there is a time for prayer and there is also a time for action.  He has rightly discerned that this is a time for action.

Moshe and his support staff ascend the hill to direct the battle from on high.  Yehoshua, with his eyes on the battle, but also looking for the guidance from above, is able to lead the people to victory over Amalek.  And Amalek will one day be eradicated and its memory erased “from under the heavens.”

A record of the event was recorded and rehearsed in the ears of Yehoshua, for it was not he who won the battle.  In the near future, nay, unfortunately in the distant future, this remembrance will be needed.

Alas, an altar of remembrance is built, for HaShem will wage war against the sons of Amalek through each generation.  An altar indicates a place of worship, and it also leads one to think that there had been a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the L-rd presented on that altar.  But the Torah had not be given yet; it was still days away.  Hmmm.

1 comment:

  1. Please change Battle of the Bulge to the evacuation at Dunkirk. My apologies to all.

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