December 18, 2018 ~ Shabbat VAYEHI. Maqam HIJAZ.

Shabbat Beshalah - שבת בשלח

Indirect Flights

ולא נחם אלהים דרך ארץ פלשתים כי קרוב הוא - When one embarks on a journey to achieve a goal, it would not be unwise to anticipate some bumps on the road. This is because most important things often require a lot of discipline, endurance, and hard work. There are no shortcuts on the road to greatness. When the Israelites leave Egypt, God does not lead them on the most direct route to Canaan, but rather the most indirect route. The Torah notes (Exodus 13:17) that God does not lead the nascent nation on a quick journey to Canaan, "because it is too close," and they would turn back to Egypt at the first sign of trouble. Instead, God knows that the only way for the Israelites to reach their destination is for them to make forty two stops in the wilderness. Ultimately, this "down time" proves to be essential as it allows them to receive the Torah and develop as a nation. From this we learn that the road to the "Promised Land" is never a straight line. Beth Torah Bulletin, January 28, 2018.

Human Dignity

אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל - Was Israel's "Song of the Sea" an appropriate response to witnessing the downfall of their enemies? After all, Proverbs 24:17 states "Do not rejoice at the downfall of your enemy" (בנפל אויבך אל תשמח)! The answer is that Israel did not derive pleasure from Egypt's defeat, but rather experienced great relief as a result of their miraculous escape from an existential threat. Israel's initial reaction to the divine intervention was that of shock; first, they feared God (וייראו העם את ה׳), then they increased their faith in God (ויאמינו בה׳ ובמשה עבדו), and only then, did they praise God and celebrate (אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל). The Children of Israel did not sink to the barbaric level of rejoicing the actual drownings of the Egyptians. The celebrations only began as a result of a clear realization that God orchestrated justice in the world by destroying those who have committed wrong (Beth Torah, 2/11/17).