February 11, 2006 13 Shevat 5766

Parshas Beshalach Volume 20, Number 16

everal years ago, a grandson of mine spent the last days of Pesach with us. It being the first time his family had not attended our Seder, my grandson wanted me to give him another chance to find the Afikomen on " Shvi'i shel Pesach," the last day of the Pesach holiday, to make up for the regular Afikomen he had missed during the Seder nights. I explained to him that the Afikomen is a Mitzvah prescribed exclusively for the Seder night, and we would be guilty of the prohibitive commandment of Bal Tosif – adding to the Mitzvah – if we instituted an Afikomen during the last days of Pesach as well… he was not mollified. My grandson nagging me for an Afikomen opportunity, I had to

The Trial of Affliction, The Trial of Affluence Rabbi Zevulun Charlop

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devise another game plan: "The hunt for the Rechush Gadol."

It may sometimes be hard to recognize Hashem's Presence and believe in Him when things are going ill with us.
Whereas on the first days of Passover we recall through the Matza the Oni, the affliction of our ancestors, on the second days of Passover we focus on the

Rechush Gadol—the great boun- for Life (Part 2) ty. This is what Hashem promRabbi Yosef Blau ised Avraham when He told him he Biblical sources that his descendants would leave outlining the meeting with Rechush Gadol after serving of a husband and wife, the Egyptians for four hundred years (Bereishis 15:14). The idea their relationship, and the conveyed by the Rechush Gadol purpose of marriage, are fits more appropriately with the vague and subject to multinotion of prizes and expensive ple interpretations, as we gifts, and I felt that he Rechush saw last week. All this Gadol hunt was the perfect game ambiguity should create for my grandchildren to play on doubt about any statement the second days of Pesach. The proclaiming a particular game itself is "played" with the process as the authentic same rules as the Afikomen way for a religious couple search; the grandchild (I suppose to meet. In the modern all children can play this game as Orthodox community, well) must look for the Rechush which is both rooted in traGadol Matza that has been hidden dition and integrated into in a clever place by the father or American society, confugrandfather. When the young

Finding a Partner

Contemporary Halacha

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Oren Kaufman

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T abl e Torah

Learn From Paraoh’s Mistakes
the Egyptian King recognized the loss to his nation: all of their slaves were gone. As with Paraoh, our moments of greatest insight usually come only after an event or situation has occurred. From this perspective we can look back and recognize the value of a past experience. Conversely,
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sion is the result. The lack of a sense of modesty and the advocacy of intimate
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he pasuk says, “It was told to the King of Egypt that the people had fled…and they said, ‘What is this that we have done that we have sent away Israel from serving us?’” (Exodus 14:5). Paraoh had previously demanded that Israel leave Egypt. However, now that Israel had left,
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This issue is sponsored in honor of the recent marriage of Naomi Katzenstein & Eli Kohl. Mazel Tov!

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NEW YORK CITY SHABBOS TIMES

when we are in the midst of an activity – tefillah, a Torah lecture, or a visit with a friend – we often fail to grasp its significance. Our challenge is to strive for the wisdom to be able to see the meaning in life as we experience it – and not when it is too late.
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From Yam Suf to Marah
Noah Cheses

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch explains that the faith exhibited by the Jewish People as they left Egypt was premised on the notion that Hashem only involved Himself in events of immense global importance. The people thought that

s Hashem freed the Jews from the Egyptian bondage and led them through the parted Yam Suf, the “Jews witnessed the great might exercised by the hand of Hashem against the Egyptians” (Shemos 14:31). This great historical moment sparked religious enthusiasm, as the Jewish People broke out into a beautiful song exalting the greatness of Hashem. (This elegant song is commonly known as “Az Yashir,” a prayer that is recited every morning in Shacharis.) In striking contrast to this event of religious fervor, the next scene depicted in the Torah is that of the Jewish Nation complaining about the bitter water in M a r a h . Seemingly, the great religious enthusiasm that they had displayed while leaving Egypt quickly dissipated as soon as they faced an obstacle. Their faith in Hashem and His servant Moshe, affirmed so intensely just a short time ago, seemed to have quickly vanished. The obvious perplexity in this parsha is how the Jewish People could have fallen “so far so fast.”

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Finding a Partner for Life (Part 2) behavior before marriage that has become the norm in the broader society has created a need to separate from the culture. At the same time, arranged marriages do not reflect the world of educated and independent young adults. A few generations ago, it was customary for a couple to get married at an age that would be illegal today. Even if it were legal, the extended number of years of education needed to have a profession, and the changes and growth of the man and woman during those years, effectively eliminate that option. One of the implications of the year or two of learning in Israel is the exposure to a religious world which has different standards of acceptable social interaction from the way students functioned in high school. Returning to Yeshiva and Stern, the student finds an environment which is unlike high school or Israel, and this often increases confusion and anxiety. Some return to old patterns of interaction while others no longer accept them as religiously acceptable. This should not be viewed in isolation. The changed role of women in society, the fact that many intend to work outside of the home after they marry, will have an impact on their functioning as wives and mothers. While the women struggle

Hashem only cared about matters that had a cosmic significance, such as inflicting the Egyptians with plagues, taking the Jews out of slavery, and splitting the sea. However, at the same time, the Jews believed that Hashem did not care about the seemingly “small details” of life.

The complaints about the bitterness of the water reflected the people’s narrowmindedness

With an appreciation of their faulty belief system, it can be understood why the Jews complained about the taste of the water. It was not that the Jews were on such a high level at the splitting of the sea and then “sank down,” but rather, that the Jews never really had a complete understanding of Hashem to begin with. The complaints about the bitterness of the water reflected the people’s narrow-mindedness, as the J e w i s h Nation did not have a complete understanding of the manner in which Hashem relates to the world. Rav Hirsh explains that the Jews needed a full forty years in the desert before they were able to internalize the notion that every intricate detail emanates from the will of Hashem.

The Baal Shem Tov offers another approach to the original problem. The verse about the episode of the bitter waters recounts, “The Jewish people came to Marah and could not drink of the waters because they [the waters] were bitter” (15:23).
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with finding a balance, we educate our young men as if nothing has changed. This is a significant element of the broader question of defining the goals of a community whose initial goals have been achieved and taken for granted. It is no longer difficult to work in any field in American society while keeping Shabbos and kashrus. Many young men wear a kippa at work though their fathers never did. One can be an Orthodox Jew and become a leader in industry, work in any profession, and even run for a national political office. The question has become whether this is consistent with a profound commitment to religious growth. Before we can create a model for marriage, it is necessary to clarify the parameters of the lives we want to live. A critical part will be defining the desired interaction between husbands and wives. How they should meet should not be discussed in isolation. Keeping halakhic norms should be a given; it is in the realm of defining what is appropriate that needs clarification. I suspect studying our sources alone will not suffice to produce guidelines.
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EINAYIM L’TORAH • 2

From Yam vhv, ohn, Suf to Marah
In a homiletic reading of the verse, the Baal Shem Tov interprets the pronoun “they” as referring to the Jewish people, rather than as referring to the water. According to this interpretation, the verse now reads, “the Jews could not drink the water because the Jews were bitter.” The problem was not that the water was actually bitter, but rather, the problem was the negative perspective of the Jewish people. Just as a depressed person may interpret regular happenings as “negative,” the “bitter” attitude of the Jews at the time made the regular water taste bitter to them. Although the Jewish people had great faith in Hashem, they were still colored by the negativity that had been generated during

the two hundred year period of slavery. The slave mentality, marked by bitter cynicism, was ingrained into the collective psyche of the Jewish People. The nation was unable to rid itself of this outlook and, thus, it only was eliminated when the “older” generation died out in the desert.

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spective, as represented by the use of the tree. The optimistic approach of the Torah influenced the Jewish People, thus converting the bitter waters back to their original sweet taste.

Hashem responded to His people’s complaints about the water and “instructed Moshe regarding a tree, which Moshe [then] cast into the waters and the waters became sweet (15:23-25).” Why was a tree used to sweeten the water? The Torah is referred to as an “Eitz Chayim,” or a “Tree of Life.” Thus, the best cure for the cynical outlook of the Jewish people was to adopt a Torah pergether contradictory. Rashi says that Moshe literally had to tear them away from the Red Sea because they were so engrossed in accumulating the expensive remnants of the Egyptian cavalry. The Zohar, however, understands the need for force here in an entirely new perspective. The Jews did not want to depart form the Red Sea because never before had they sensed so vividly and unmistakably – the presence of the Shechinah.

There are unfortunate occurrences in life that are objectively bitter. However, there are still many more times when we judge things to be bitter despite the fact that they are not so in reality. There are also many times that we complain about the small details in life, not realizing that everything comes from Hashem. Hopefully, by internalizing both the Torah perspective and the fact that everything comes from Hashem, we will be able to drink only sweet waters.
in Hashem and heed His Word in times of well being and ease. A person's recognition of Hashem even in affluent times can be an even more sublime vision than in a time of adversity. There is no contradiction here between Rashi and the Zohar. Bnei Yisroel's powerful awareness of Hashem came precisely because of their preoccupation with the riches at the sea. And this is what Chazal mean when they say: "What the plainest maidservant saw at the Red Sea was not seen evenby Ezekiel in his marvelous conjuring of the chariot." "We are expected," I told my grandson, "To feel the Shechinah when we are flushed with Rechush Gadol, and indeed, it is possible for us to reach higher peaks of Yedias Hashem in wealth than in poorness.

The Trail of Affliction, The Trial of Affluence
man or girl finds the Rechush Gadol, he or she receives a reward which ought to be even more valuable than the Afikomen!

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The Bnei Yisroel's collection of this "great bounty" came in two stages. The first stage occurred when the Egyptians, in a miraculous turnabout, sent the Bnei Yisroel away with expensive farewell mementos that they had ostensibly borrowed. The second stage, when the Bnei Yisroel picked up from the Red Sea shores on Shvi'i shel Pesach, a week after the initial Exodus, the gorgeous armor of their drowned, Egyptian pursuers. This armor surpassed by far the wealth they had collected in Egypt, and in fact, Moshe had to coerce Bnei Yisroel to depart from their Red Sea riches (Shimos 15:22). There are two explanations for the need for coercion here, which, superficially, seem alto-

My grandfather z"l, saw no contradiction between Rashi's understanding and the Zohar's. There are two tests of faith – nisayon ha'oni, the test of affliction, and nisayon ha'osher , the test of affluence. When dark times hit, it is often difficult to recognize Hashem's Presence and believe fully in His ultimate guiding hand. However, even a more difficult test is the test of affluence: to believe

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PARSHAS BESHALACH • 3

Parsha Points in Beshalach
Ephraim Meth

• Hashem has the Jews meander in the desert, lest they scurry back to Egypt when confronted with war. • Paraoh’s pursuit frightens the Jews, but Hashem reassures them of victory. • Moshe miraculously splits the Red Sea! The Jews pass through on dry land while the Egyptians simultaneously drown. • Moshe leads the men in a song praising Hashem for the present and future salvations. Miriam, Moshe’s sister, leads the women in a similar song. • The Jews complain about food three times: in Marah, the waters are bitter; in the Desert of Siyn, they request bread and meat; in Refidim, there is no water. In each case, Hashem miraculously sustains them. • Hashem provides the Jews with mon, heavenly bread. The Jews gather it every morning, but gather the Shabbos portion a day early. Some people hoarded the mon, and it spoiled. • Amalek attacks us! Moshe appoints Yehoshua to repulse the attack. With the help of Moshe’s prayers Amalek is vanquished, and Hashem declares eternal war on its remnants.

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EINAYIM L’TORAH • 4

PARSHAS BESHALACH