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– “when (he) sent” – 5774 Torah: Exodus
13:17-17:16 Haftarah: Judges
4:4-5:31 Brit Hadasha: Matthew
5; Mark 8:1-10:31; Luke 2:22-24, John 6:25-35, 19:31-37, 1
Cor 10:1-13, 2 Cor 8:1-15, Rev 15:1-4
From the morning (shacharit)
services' reference to the parting of the Yom Suf, to Charleton
Heston saying “Let my people go!”, this is one of the most
popular passages in all of Torah.
As we look at the actual
wording in this parasha, the Hebrew שָׁלַח
(shalach) would probably be closer to 'sent'
rather than 'let go'.
As we look at our lives, our human nature tends to be hard-of-heart,
like Pharaoh, resistant to HaShem's directions/commands. We also
tend to drag our feet, and try to compromise – 'just the men may
go', instead of 'Kol Yisrael' – becomes 'I will give $X, so others
can do ___.' instead of '(I will) do ____. It boils down to Pharaoh
got to the point where he drove B'nai Yisrael out of Egypt, (and as
some speculate planted/sent spies with them, to assure/encourage
their prompt return, since good help was hard to find).
So, why go the long way
around? Going from Egypt (via the direct route) to the promised land
would take them from in Egypt (with the Egyptian Army) along the main
highway (guarded by Egyptian garrisons), and it would also bypass the
place where HaShem told Moshe that they needed to go so that they
could worship Him.
As one Rabbi pointed out,
B'nai Yisrael had different ideas about how things should be handled
– some felt they should give up and jump in the sea, when Egypt
came after them – similar to the attitude at Masada. Others
thought they should just apologise and go back to Egypt. A third
faction thought they should fight – as those in the (almost) modern
Warsaw ghettos. The fourth faction felt they should pray to G-d.
Moshe said they should stand firm (don't cave in), go on (don't
retreat), watch (don't fight) and don't speak (be quiet, not even say
prayers – you might miss what HaShem has for you).
As HaShem had not just
turned Yisrael free immediately to run back to the promised land –
so that they could not only develop their own faith – but also take
a mixed multitude with them, He also would not let them go straight
home, so that they could learn the multitude of lessons to grow them
into the subjects they should be. All were invited to the first
Pesach, but there was much to learn. Isaiah, in the days of the
divided kingdom speaks wisdom that all can learn from, whether in
Egypt as slaves, or even now in modern times, “ . . . So now the
word of Adonai . . . comes 'tzav la-tzav, tzav la-tzav' (precept by
precept, precept by precept or
command by command, command by command), 'kav la-kav, kav
la-kav' (line by line, line by line), 'z'eir sham, z'eir sham' (a
little here, a little there)” (Isaiah 28:10, 14). All lesson are
cumulative, and one is to carry on, to continue growing in all
aspects. As told to me plenty of times, your life is either going
forward, or you are going backward. You are either developing or you
are declining. 1 Cor 3 talks about the unnatural infancy of the
readers, not able to accept the mature things of the spirit.
Another Rabbi pointed out
that Shmot Rabbah mentions two separate songs after the crossing of
Yom Suf – one with all Israel (B'nai Yisrael), and then Miriam's
song with the women (B'not Yisrael). The mention of Miriam being a
Prophetess speaks of verbal tradition that she predicted that her
parents would give birth to the Savior of Israel from their Egyptian
slavery. This is cited as her unique qualification to lead this
It all boils down to
listening to HaShem and following his Word.