Home : Torah Online : Parsha : Beshalach : 5760

This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.

The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.

Parshat Beshalach (5760)

This week’s Torah portion relates the story of the splitting of the sea.

Joke: Once a little boy handed in a blank piece of paper for his art project and explains it to his art teacher: "It's called "Crossing the Red Sea"! " But it's Blank!!! There is nothing there!!!" the incredulous teacher exclaimed. "Well" explained the child "The Sea split, the Jews already crossed, and the Egyptians haven't yet arrived! So it’s blank!"

Similarly, most people when they think of this great miracle it draws a total blank. What does it mean to us today?

In this week's Torah section we find a wonderful sentence (14:31-15:1) And Israel saw what G-d did to Egypt… and they believed in G-d and in Moshe His servant. THEN Moshe and the Jewish people sang this song…."

One of the great Chassidic explanations of this sentence is, that the only time a Jew can REALLY sing and be happy is after he believes in both G-d AND Moshe.

But if you think about it, this really doesn't really make much sense.

Why does the Torah have to tell us that the Jews believed in Moshe and began singing AFTER he took them across the sea? First, what does it mean they believed in Moses because he split the sea? That isn’t right. Belief is required BEFORE he split the sea not afterward.

And what was so remarkable about them being happy and sang. Of course they were happy! They got saved from certain death!

But really, the Jews believed in Moshe before he split the sea (4:31) In fact it was the belief in Moshe that took them across the Yam Suf!

But what the Torah is telling us here is that the Jews came to a greater level of faith in Moses than before. And, in fact G-d was disappointed that they only came to this greater level of faith and joy AFTER the miracle.

After all the miracles He had shown them in taking them from Egypt G-d expected them to have rejoiced in their certainty that G-d would save them…… BEFORE it happened; Before He split the sea!

This is especially a lesson for our generation. When the Lubavitch Rebbe said that the six-day war would end in just days, or that the gates of Communist Russia would open or that the Scud missiles would kill no one BEFORE these things happened, it calmed thousands of troubled souls. But only a few ‘crazy’ Chassidim actually rejoiced.

But we can correct that now.

The Rebbe's message for us today is "Prepare for redemption, the Moshiach is here!" This should bring us great happiness even before we see the miracles with our eyes. It should give us a renewed vigor in doing good deeds and preparing the world for the imminent Redemption even though it seems at times that we are standing before impassable obstacles.

The way to do this is by learning Chassidut

There is a Medrash that says that the Jewish people really did not CROSS the Yam Suf (Red Sea) rather they took a U-turn in the middle and came out on the same side they entered, just several miles down.

We can’t say that G-d did this in order to drown the Egyptians; He could have just as easily killed them in their sleep or their swimming pools or have them kill each other (like they did before the plague of the first-born) why did He have to stage this whole ‘Sea Splitting’ production?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe answers that the Real reason for the sea splitting was that when the sea split all the waters split (see Rashi 14:21), even the 'upper waters' i.e. the heavens. The Creator was so revealed that even the simplest Jewish maid-servant, saw visions greater than those of the greatest prophets.

This was to prepare the Jews for the experience at Mount Sinai when G-d would reveal himself ‘face to face’ (Deut. 5:5).

In our generation this is accomplished by learning the writings of the Chabad Rebbes which are called Chassidut or 'Torat HaMoshiach' (The teachings of Moshiach). (visit your local Chabad House for details)

These books, like the splitting of the sea, provide a preview of the total revelation of G-d that will mark the Days of the Moshiach. Then the world will be filled with the feeling and the knowledge of the Oneness of G-d like the ocean is filled with water…. Even more so than it was at Mount Sinai.

It all depends on us to do even one more good deed, say one more good word or even think one more positive thought and we will all be dancing with…

Copyright © 1999-2018 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.

(5760- )



   Other Essays

 send us feedback