11 Jan BESHALACH- FAITH AND HOPE
Parashat Beshalah tells the dramatic story of ףוס†םי†תעירק– the splitting of the sea. After Pharaoh finally sent Beneh Yisrael out of the Egypt, he changed his mind, and chased after them with his army, trapping them against the sea. The situation seemed hopeless. Hashem performed a miracle, splitting the waters, allowing Beneh Yisrael to cross on dry land. The Egyptians followed them, and the waters then fell on them, and they drowned.
In the Torah’s account of this event, we find some repetition. First, it says,השביב†םיה†ךותב†≠†לארשי†ינב†ואוביו†– “Beneh Yisrael walked through the sea, on dry land” (14:22). Later, the Torah repeats, השביב†≠†וכלה†לארשי†ינבו†םיה†ךותב†“Beneh Yisrael walked on dry land through the sea” (14:29).
Why is this repeated? And why does the Torah say the first time that Beneh Yisrael walked השביב†םיה†ךותב†– “through the sea, on dry land,” and then reverse the order in the second pasuk, saying that they walked השביב†םיה†ךותב†– “on dry land through the sea”?
The answer is that the first pasuk is talking about our ancestors at the sea. And the second pasuk is talking about us, about all Jews in every generation, for all time.
When Beneh Yisrael stood trapped against the sea, there seemed to be no hope for their survival. It looked like the end. They had no chance. But they were shown that Hashem can do anything, that He can help in ways nobody could ever imagine.
This is what they were shown, and this is what we, their descendants, were shown. And so the Torah repeats, םיה†ךותב†השביב†≠וכלה†לארשי†ינבוÆ†Even when we seem to be walking השביב, securely, without any troubles or fears, it is really םיה†ךותב†– “through the sea.” We are being taken care of by Hashem at all times. He is allowing us to live, He is giving us everything we have, He is performing miracles for us, “splitting the sea” so we can live and function.
This faith is what gives us hope during trying times. We never know what the future will bring. Faith does not mean that we are prophets, that we can determine precisely what will happen. What faith means is that no matter what the statistics are, Hashem controls everything. Faith means that when the doctors say there is no hope, there still is hope. Faith means that when there seems to be no way we can pay our bills, there still can be a way. We don’t know what will happen, but we can have hope, because we know that Hashem can do anything.
A couple was married for many years without being able to have children. Finally, they contacted one of the wonderful organizations that helps couples struggling with infertility. The husband spoke to the Rabbi from the organization, and the Rabbi said they should meet for lunch on Sunday and then go meet with the doctor.
“Where would you like to eat lunch?” the rabbi asked. He proceeded to list the various options.
The man grew impatient.
“Rabbi!” he said. “I want a child. Not a tuna sandwich!”
“My friend,” the Rabbi replied, “I want you to realize that Hashem can bring you a child as easily as He can bring you a tuna sandwich.”
Sure enough, nine months later, this couple had a child.
Of course, we do not have miracles like the splitting of the sea. Hashem helps us in much subtler ways. We can all look back and see things in our lives that we never imagined could happen, but ended up happening, yet, we would be hard pressed to identify a specific moment when everything changed. For most people, there is no precise point when all of a sudden their lives changed. The change happens slowly, step by step. But this, too, is the splitting of the sea. It’s Hashem helping us in ways which we would never have imagined.
After things happen, we should have emunah (faith) and humbly accept that this is what Hashem wanted. But until they happen, no matter what the situation is, we can and should be hopeful, firmly believing that just as Hashem split the sea for our ancestors, He can split the sea for us, as well.