Points to Ponder
And Hashem didn’t take them through the land of Plishtim since it was close (13:17) – the Chazon Ish was troubled as to the Torah’s explanation here: Didn’t Hashem tell Moshe that when he took the people out of Mitzrayim they would serve Hashem on Har Sinai? Wasn’t THAT the reason that Bnei Yisrael needed to go into the Midbar and not Derech Eretz Plishtim? Rav Shlomo Fisher Shlita explains that the concern was expressed at the time that Hashem met Moshe at Har Sinai. (A similar thought is expressed by the Chasam Sofer)
And the Jewish nation left Mitzrayim Chamushim (13:18) – Rashi explains that Chamushim means that 4/5 of the nation died in Makkas Chosheich. Rav Noach Weinberg ztl. questions what the merit of the 1/5 was. He explains that it was not their piety – for they are identified as Ovdei Avodah Zara at the shores of Yam suf. Rather, he explains, it was due to their identification with the Jewish nation – through the names, the language, the clothing etc. that it was apparent that they wanted to be Jewish. That being the case, they merited salvation. We need to remember that when we work with others – to think long and hard before totally severing the ties with those identifying as Jews.
Hashem should remember you and you shall take my bones up from here with YOU (13:19) – Why the stress that the bones would come up “Itchem? Rav Schachter Shlita often quoted Rav Yehuda HaChossid who noted that one cannot bury two enemies next to one another. Therefore, by noting that he requested that it be Itchem, he was also letting it be known that he had forgiven the brothers and that they could indeed be together and buried together.
And Bnei Yisrael went into the sea on dry land (14:22) – This Possuk refers to the children of Binyamin and Yehuda who went into the sea first waiting for it to split. Later (possuk 29) we read about the opposite order because the water had already split and the land was already dry. Rav Eliyahu Lopian ztl. explains that there were 2 depths discussed here: the first, was that of Binyamin and Yehuda who trusted in Hashem and the depth of the other tribes who followed suit. Rav Elya adds that the former style is one that is built on Torah and Mitzvos and is pure. Cries from a source like that, never go away empty handed. The latter faith is built on something else and depends on the merits of the believer to get him out and onward.
Az Yashir (15:1) – The midrash (Berashis Rabba 68:4) offers the explanation that those who wanted to, offered Shirah while those who didn’t preferred to cry. Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriah ztl. explains that there are those who evolve from their internal prison through pain and tears while others emerge through song and the lifting of spirt. The former style is common in the Mussar movement while the latter was more prominent in the Chassidic court. Both styles have their place. Sometimes the former is better, sometimes it is the latter.
Any illness that I placed on Egypt I shall not place on you (15:26) – Rashi explains that if I do send the illness it will be as if I did not send it. Rav Meir Shapiro ztl. explains that when Hashem heals directly, it is as if there is no illness and never was. When he sends a Shaliach, it is as if it was there but changed.
Amalek came and fought Bnei Yisrael in Refidim (17:8) – The Yalkut Shimoni notes that Refidim refers to the fact that they lightened themselves from Torah study. In 1968, Rav Nachum Percovitz ztl. told his students that the intention of the Midrash was not to those who were totally deficient in their Torah study. Rather, it referred to those who would talk about the miracles of Hashem instead of studying the stories of Yevamos in depth. For someone who can study Torah deeply, spending the time telling miracle stories is a Rifyon in Torah diligence.
Haftorah: Devorah and Barak sang that day (Shoftim 5:1) – Mesech Chochma notes that unlike Moshe’s Shirah, this one did not mention that it was to Hashem. Why? He answers that it mentions the curse to Meiroz who did not join the battle. Hashem does not want his name associated with negativity. Rav Chaim Zietchik ztl. notes the importance of care not to embarrass or curse someone even when engaging in holy work. Perhaps that is the time to be most careful – so that the work be associated with Meleches Shomayim….