A Student Publication of Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Beshalach 15 Shevat 5763 January 18, 2003 Vol.12 No. 15
In This Issue:
Rabbi Joel Grossman
Food For Thought
Halacha of the Week
Rabbi Howard Jachter
This week’s issue of Kol Torah has been sponsored by Manny and Judy
Landau and Avraham and Margalit (Landau) Lubarsky in gratitude for the
birth of their granddaughter and daughter, Chaya Rachel.
Be Careful; Don't Fall
by Rabbi Joel Grossman
Our Parsha begins with the Pasuk of, “Vayehi Beshalach Pharo Et Haam Velo Nacham Elokeem Derech Eretz Plishtim Ki Karov Hu, Ki Amar Elokeem Pen Yinachem Haam Birotam Milchama Vishavu Mitzryma,” “And it was when Pharo sent the people, He did not lead them by the land of the Philistines since He said perhaps the people will regret leaving Egypt and will return to Egypt.” Zelig Pliskin in his Growth Through Torah quotes a question from Rabbi Yehuda Leib Chasman, which asks how Bnai Yisrael could have ever thought about going back to Mitzrayim, a place where they suffered so much? They should have trusted Hashem since He already had performed so many miracles on their behalf and hopefully would continue helping them in the future. Why would they ever think of going back to that terrible environment?
He answers, that this can only be understood when one realizes that a person is made up of a mixture of a body and a soul. Even when a person is on a very high spiritual level, he can fall. For this reason a person needs to watch out and look into themselves constantly. At one moment a person can be elevated and the next moment, as we see from Haman in the Purim story, the person can be all the way on the bottom. Although Bnai Yisrael was aware of Hashem this feeling can be lost in a very short time.
Many years ago I had the privilege of Davening Shacharit with Rav Moshe Feinstein. I noticed when he took off his Tefillin he didn’t waste that precious time, rather he studied Mishnayot. When I asked someone why he did this I was informed that Rav Moshe quoted the Gemara in Masechet Yuma about Yochanan Cohen Gadol who served as the Cohen Gadol for eighty years going into the Kodesh Hakadashim every year. At the end of his life, though, he became a non-believer. Rav Moshe said if it could happen to Yochanan Cohen Gadol it could happen to him too. Therefore, he constantly worked on himself to learn torah and come closer to Hashem so that he could remain connected to Him for his entire life. This idea of constant effort allowed Rav Moshe to become the Gadol Hador and it permits each of us to reach our potential as well.
This concept of being able to change can give one great hope, too. If you can fall quickly, you can pick yourself up very quickly too. Never give up hope when you feel that you are on a low level. Remember the Gemara in Masechet Megila, which states that if you put in effort, you can believe the person that they have succeeded. Don’t waste time with self-pity if you feel you are not on the level you want to be on. Remember things can change in the blink of an eye and who is on the bottom today could be on the top tomorrow and vice versa, it just takes work on your part and hopefully Hashem can see how much we want to change and He can assist us. Remember the Gemara in Masechet Yuma teaches us about the power of Teshuva that it works to change all your sins into Mitzvot if you do Teshuva out of love.
by Yair Manas
There are always those who deny the existence of miracles. They claim that the works of Hashem are simply natural occurrences. This was the attitude of many nonbelievers in regard to the splitting of Yam Suf. They claimed that an earthquake or an accident of nature caused the sea to split.
To prevent any such beliefs, Hashem increased the miracle. Rashi says that not only was the Yam Suf split, but also all of the waters in the world were split. Because of this, no one could deny that this truly was an act of God.
As the Jews were standing by shore of the Yam Suf watching their enemy come closer, they did not know what to do. Suddenly, Nachshon ben Aminadav jumped into the Yam Suf with full confidence that Hashem would save him. As he touched the water, it parted and allowed the Jews to pass through. It was Nachshon’s faith in Hashem that led to Bnai Yisrael’s being saved.
Another miracle that Hashem gave the Jewish People was the מן. Every morning the מן dropped from the sky. Every Jew was ordered to collect a set amount of מן. They were not to take more than they needed, as those who did displayed a lack of faith in Hashem because He said that He would provide the מן daily. Even without this special assurance, these people would still have been wrong: Hashem is always performing miracles for His people. The fact that the Jews are still in existence after thousands of years of persecution is a miracle. In Israel today, miracles occur daily.
Sometimes, though, we take these daily miracles for granted. They happen all the time, so we do not bother to think about them. It is important to take the time to appreciate all of the miracles that Hashem performs, but in order for Hashem to perform great miracles for us, we have to show the same faith that Nachshon ben Aminadav showed at Yam Suf.
by Dani Shaffren
In 17:12, the Torah says that Moshe raised his hands and left them up until sunset. "Videy Moshe k'veydim vayikchu even vayasimu tachtav...vayehi yadav emunah ad bo hashemesh" - Moshe’s hands were heavy and they placed a stone under him…and his hands were faithful until sunset.”
Rashi (based on Rosh Hashana 29a) explains why Moshe’s hands needed to be raised. He states that Moshe’s hands were directed up towards Heaven in intense and deep prayer. A question emerges, though, to which Rashi does not give an answer. Why does Moshe keep his hands up until sunset? He could have prayed to Hashem for just a short time and He would have heard him! Also, why did he specifically wait until sunset and not earlier?
The Rambam writes in Hilchot Taaniot that another prayer service should be recited after Mincha close to sunset on fast days. This prayer service is called נעילה, closing, as if to say, “The gates of mercy are closing down as the sun sets and disappears.”
According to the Rambam, this נעילה prayer, added on special fast days during times of trouble, can only be said at or close to sunset because this is the time at which the “gates of mercy” in Heaven symbolically close. The battle with Amalek was definitely a time of trouble and that day was probably a fast day, dedicated to repentance and prayer. Since Moshe had spread his hands in true prayer for mercy, the most appropriate time to do so would be just before sunset in the time allotted for the נעילה prayer. Therefore his hands were raised until sunset. (Brisk on Chumash.)
Food For Thought
by David Gertler
1) Note the similarities between Az Yashir and Shirat Divora. Why might the column style, used in both places, be used for Az Yashir? [Hint: Look specifically at the last line of the Shira.] what might its purpose be in Shirat Divora? [Extra Thought: What is the first poem or song in Tanach? What is its connection to these Shirim?]
2) Why does the Chumash feel it necessary to tell us that the מן was melted by the sun?
3) What special symbolism did the man have that it was necessary to store it for generations to come? What happened to this jar of man?
Halacha of the Week
The Pitchei Teshuva (Even Haezer 75:5) writes that one cannot force a spouse to relocate to Eretz Yisrael if he is unable to earn a living in Eretz Yisrael. Accordingly, one who facilitates the economic viability of Israel and helps create jobs in Israel, such as by purchasing Israeli products, participates in the Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael.
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