Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A bitter lesson

Parshat B'Shalah

After the sea split and went back to normal, the Jews move on through the desert and they encounter a place with only bitter water. In 15:22-23 the pessukim tell us, "ויסע משה את ישראל...ויבאו מרתה ולא יכלו לשתת" - Moshe urged the Israelites to travel... and they came to Marah and they were not able to drink...

Rashi tells us that Moshe had to push them to travel from the edge of the sea. He explains that all the jewels and wealth of Egypt washed up on the bansk and the people were busy scavenging the wealth and they did not want to leave. Moshe had to tell them that enough was enough and it was time to move on.

I find the contrast stark. They finish the story of splitting the sea and immediately begin the story of the bitter waters.

I think, maybe, part of the reason hashem took them to Marah right now was specifically because of the greed they displayed at the edge of the sea. They preferred to sit there collecting money and Moshe had to force them to move.
Hashem brought them to Marah to show them that all that money they were so worried about does them no good anyway. All the money in the world could not buy them a drink of water. They needed to improve their emuna and be less concerned about the money.

Thinking about this some more, I developed it a bit further....

After the events at the splitting of the sea and then the bitter waters, the rest of the parsha deals with a number of other stories; the manna, the fowl (slav), the water coming from the rock, the battle with Amalek.

All these are events that are completely dependant on emunah. They were all there to teach Bnei Yisrael emunah in Hashem and that even when they put forth effort it is really Hashem making their efforts successful.

So, they showed their greed by preferring the money. Hashem showed them the money is not the most important. Then hashem taught them multiple lessons in emuna.


knaidel maidel said...

That was profound.

Rafi Goldmeier said...

thank you

edh said...


According to Rabbi Menachem Leibtag (www.tanach.org), you are quite right. His point is very interesting (and simple), and I will quote from his Questions for Preparation and Self Study:
" 3. List the various situations of peril arise in Parshat
Beshalach whereupon Bnei Yisrael complain to God (noting how
and why they complain); after which God provides a solution
(noting how the problem is solved).
In your opinion, does God expect Bnei Yisrael not to
complain when these situations arise (e.g. when there is a
lack of water or food)?
Similarly, in your opinion - did these situations arise by
'chance', or do they appear to be 'orchestrated' by God?
If the latter, what was their purpose?

4. Review once again the list of events that transpire in
Parshat Beshalach (as Bnei Yisrael travel towards Har Sinai).
Can you identify a pattern or common purpose?
See if you can find the word 'nisayon' (or similar) in
any or all of these events. If so, explain its meaning, and
how it relates to the purpose of these events. [Relate to
Breishit 22:1!]

Sorry for the bad formatting of the text.


Rafi Goldmeier said...

shkoyach, edh

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Very nice thanks.