Torah Portion

Parashat Beshalach

Follow Moshe

Like the first rain which comes after long years of drought, Moshe’s whispers are still trickling… bringing water slowly to this tired and thirsty generation, revealing to anyone who is willing to hear: “Precious friend, I am the messenger of Hashem to redeem you.  I am the healer of the souls, this is my role.  I can help you.  I can lift you up even from the lowest depths.  Just follow me.”

leaving egypt

Harav Israel Asulin

Translated by Moshe Neveloff

Monday, 8th of Shevat, 5776

BS”D

The internal journey which the Jewish people went through in the Exodus from Egypt tells us the exciting story of our faith, which has no comparison in the world: “and they had faith in Hashem and in Moshe, His servant.” (Exodus, Chapter 14, Verse 31)

The Jewish people went through generations upon generations of slavery in Egypt, years upon years of servitude and difficulty and loss of awareness; it was almost erased from their memories the ancient, distant and sweet promise, which said: the day of redemption will come…

Amidst this situation, one clear day, Moshe arrives from Midian, walks between all of the depressed prisoners and declares: “Beloved brothers, I am God’s messenger, and in his name I say to you that the redemption is at hand.  Soon he will free you and redeem you and take you out from this terrible place and take you to another place, which is good and nearby, and he will choose you to be for him a special people and give you the Torah as a gift…”

And they believed him!!!

For two hundred and ten years they were amongst the filth of Egypt!  Not only were they slaves to Pharaoh, so too their father, grandfather, and the grandfather of their grandfather… generations of slavery.  A tradition of slavery… suddenly one day someone named Moshe comes and says to them:  “It’s over”, and they believe him!

From the strength of that faith they merited to see with their eyes how Hashem brought the ten plagues upon Egypt, with great miracles, and how Pharaoh expelled them from being his slaves, pleading with them to leave Egypt already to go and serve their God, and how in the end the surprising freedom came… and all along the way they continued to believe- a entire people stands at the gates of Egypt, disconnects from hundreds of years of slavery and servitude, and goes out a new path.  Men, women and children, with possessions of great wealth and dough which did not have time to rise, in their hearts they are departing for ever from Pharaoh and his slave masters, in their eyes they see a picture of the dreamed for and promised land… but how?  And where are they going from here???

Moshe says to them, “Come after me”, and they believe.

Apparently there were all types of Rabbis and learned people in that generation.  Surely there were also all kinds of wise men, who were experts in geography and the maps of the world, and they were familiar with international politics and foreign relations, and experts in weaponry and war strategy… each person in that generation could have said: “Okay, let’s say that Moshe is a tremendous Tsaddik and he showed us great miracles, but why walk after him specifically?  What if I know a shorter route to the land of Israel?!  I myself am from the Jewish people, a descendant of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, correct?!  And behold Hashem said that he will redeem the Jewish people, so that’s it, why do we need Moshe?  Why do I have to walk after him specifically?  I am smart enough and know how to walk!  Why can’t I do it by myself?  Maybe he’s completely mistaken about the route??”

A great level of faith and submission was needed in order to walk after Moshe!

And they?  They walked after Moshe!

They continued walking after Moshe, and continued, even when seemingly because of him they were entering a terrible, threatening and terminal death trap- Pharaoh and his 600 soldiers on horseback closing in behind them, and the sea was in front of them like a wall, deadly animals were threatening to swallow them alive in every direction, and the Jewish people were like “a dove which escaped from the hawk and hid in the cracks of the rocks, and there was a snake hiding there; the dove wanted to leave- behold the hawk was waiting at the entrance.  This is how the Jews were- the sea was raging before them and the tyrant was pursuing after them and so to the animals of the desert… they were surrounded in four directions…” (Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Shoftim, 13)

Also in this difficult and impossible situation the people continued to believe and walk after Moshe.  Hashem says to Moshe: “Why do you cry out to me?  Speak to the Children of Israel and let them journey forth!” (Exodus, Chapter 14, Verse 15)  This is exactly what they do, they enter into the sea!  Somebody needs so much courage to do something like this!  It takes so much faith in order to enter the sea!  Because Moshe said…they believed.  “And they had faith in Hashem and in Moshe, His servant.”

Thousands of years afterwards, the same exciting situation of unexplainable faith is taking place.  Only this time we are the heroes; Jews of the 2000s, sunken to our necks in the filth of Egypt, serving Pharoah with dedication and trying to remember: “What was that, that promise?  They said that one day the Moshiach[1] would come and there will be redemption… did they really mean it or was it just a parable?  Is this something that will ever happen?  It’s a bit difficult to believe… it sounds so unrealistic and impractical…”

Like the first rain which comes after long years of drought, Moshe’s whispers are still trickling… bringing water slowly to this tired and thirsty generation, revealing to anyone who is willing to hear: “Precious friend, I am the messenger of Hashem coming to redeem you.  I am the healer of the souls, this is my role.  I can help you.  I can lift you up even from the lowest depths.  Just follow me.”

“The night before he passed away, Rebbe Nachman said to his students: ‘What do you need to worry about, for I am going before you?  What about the souls who did not know me at all and are waiting for my rectifications, even more so for you.” (The Life of Rebbe Nachman, Paragraph 225)  “Even after he has passed away, someone who will come to his gravesite, and say there these ten chapters of Psalms[2], and give a small amount of money to charity in his (Rebbe Nachman) memory, even if his sins were very great, God forbid, then I will try (Rebbe Nachman) and make a great effort to save him and rectify him…” (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, Paragraph 141)

It sounds a bit crazy.  It really contradicts all of our regular viewpoints.  What, from saying ten chapters of Psalms it is possible to have a salvation?  How can we leave Gehinnom[3] by visiting the gravesite of a Tsaddik?  Why be happy if I’m sad?  Who says that it’s permitted for me to make myself happy after I have sinned?  Why do I need to do it specifically his way?  It’s not possible by myself?  Who said that this is the path, maybe there are shortcuts?  We don’t understand anything!  However, we are all waiting for the sea to be split for us so that we can pass through it and receive the Torah; the same faith is waiting for us, that we will see it and believe in it… because “by way of faith by itself we can merit the aspect of the Splitting of the Sea.  The main aspect of the Splitting of the Sea for the Jewish people was through faith… because by way of faith in Hashem and the true Tsaddik (Rebbe Nachman) we can merit.” (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Torah learning, 3rd Halachah, 8th paragraph)

We have it, and we can do it, like our ancestors in Egypt- without asking questions.  Without arguing, without understanding.  Just walk after him, with closed eyes and with burning love which doesn’t expire; to see and to believe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Messiah

[2] A special rectification of ten chapters of Psalms that Rebbe Nachman revealed, called Tikun HaKlali

[3] The opposite of Heaven

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s