Above the angels. Weekly Torah portion "Beshalach"

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By Nachum Purer on 01.24.2018 Weekly chapter, Traditions

When Pharaoh released the children of Israel from Egypt, God did not lead them straight through the land of the Philistines, but directed them into the desert. Soon, however, the pharaoh changed his mind again and set off in pursuit with a detachment of warriors in chariots.

Having protected the Jews from a direct attack on the move, God divided the Red Sea, and they crossed to the other side along the exposed bottom. The Egyptians followed them, but the waters closed in, drowning the horsemen and chariots. Coming ashore, the grateful Jews turned to G‑d with the solemn “Song of the Sea.” After three days of travel, the thirsty fugitives found only bitter water in the town of Mara. The murmur intensified in the camp, and Moses desalinated the water by throwing a tree into it. There the prophet told the Jews the first commandments. And again the complaints: people longingly remembered the “delights” of Egyptian slavery, “pots of meat.” Then G‑d sent them hearty meat food in the form of quails, and the next morning man (“manna from heaven”), a special nutritious product, fell from the sky. Due to the lack of water, the threat of rebellion again arose, and at the direction of the Almighty, Moshe extracted water from the rock by hitting it with his staff. During the difficult journey, the Jews were attacked by the Amalekites. Yehoshua bin Nun led the regiments into battle, and Moshe provided Divine cover with his prayer.


“And the angel of the Most High, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them...” (14:19).

The word “haya” has two, at first glance, directly opposite meanings in Hebrew. The most common of them is a wild animal. But "haya" can also mean one of the types of angels, higher spiritual beings. In prayer we say: “Ve-a-ofanim ve-hayot ha-kodesh...” - “And the sacred ofanim and hayot.”

Is there any connection between these two meanings: between the brute animal and the sacred celestial? After all, there is nothing accidental in the holy language. According to Jewish tradition, man is considered a being not only “intelligent,” but also “walking.” As the prophet Zechariah said: “And I will cause you to walk among these standing…” (3:7).

An angel is a static creature. He can only stand still. He is unable to move and has no freedom of choice. Angels perceive G-d so deeply and directly that they simply have no options: only to carry out His will.

It's the same with the beast. He also has no freedom of choice. He can only follow his instincts, which is the will of the Almighty.

And only man is given the choice between good and evil and, thus, ascending or, conversely, descending the ladder of holiness.

When Jews strive for spiritual growth, when they exercise their freedom of choice in fulfilling the will of the Creator, He turns His face to them, and then they can ascend the steps of holiness higher than the holiest of angels.

Now let’s look at the above phrase from today’s weekly section: “And the angel of the Most High, who walked before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them,” that is, if before He surpassed them in holiness, now “he moved... and went behind them” , because the sons of Israel grew so spiritually that they found themselves on a level above the angelic.

“Hey, up there!”

“And the children of Israel went through the sea on dry land, and the waters were a wall to them on the right hand and on the left…” (14:22).

Damp, hazy night. The road is slippery, like a skating rink. Two blinding beams from an oncoming truck pierced the windshield. With an unconscious movement of the steering wheel, he threw the car to the left, trying to avoid a collision, and suddenly felt that the road had disappeared from under the wheels. He opened the door and jumped into the blackness.

What's down there?! The hand grabbed a wet bush. With superhuman effort, pressing his whole body into the smooth clay slope, he stopped his slide into the abyss, pulled himself up slightly and grabbed the branch with his second hand. Silence, only the blood pounding madly in the ears under the intermittent, hoarse breathing. Below is a two-hundred-meter drop. My feet try in vain to find the ledge, knocking down small pebbles.

The bush crackled pitifully, unable to support eighty kilograms of his weight. He had always been proud of his atheistic beliefs, but in this desperate, terrible moment, he raised his eyes to the black sky and shouted: “Hey, is there anyone there?!” Help!!!"

“Let go of the branch, I will save you,” thundered loudly overhead.

He thought for a moment and shouted again: “Is there anyone else?”

It's funny to you? In Yiddish they say: “A sheine gelekhte,” a cheerful laugh. Here a tragedy is brewing, and you deign to make jokes.

Here at the very edge of the sea...

The Jewish people are fighting a mortal battle. History sadly repeats itself, like a broken plate. Since we began to return to Eretz Israel, the cry has been heard from almost every Arab capital: “Let's throw the Jews into the sea!”

Again the sea, only this time not the Red Sea, but the Mediterranean. Our sages teach that the final salvation will be a twin clone of the very first salvation, when the Jews emerged from slavery in Egypt. “I saved them,” says G‑d, “the last time as the first.” Today's epic section tells how the mighty Egyptian army overtook the runaway Jewish slaves at the very edge of the sea. There is nowhere to run, there is no use in resisting. Pharaoh and his valiant horsemen wanted, like today's Arabs, to throw the Jews into the sea. The only difference is that the Egyptians tried to do this literally, physically, with the violent onslaught of their “armored forces,” and our current enemies tried to do this through political maneuvers, relying on international support. They want to implement their “law of return”, to flood Israel with a three-million-strong crowd of “Palestinian refugees” who, without unnecessary sentimentality, will rape and drown the fragile young lady called Jewish democracy into the sea.

The biggest weakness of democracy is that it is based on quantity rather than quality. Democratic elections are a simple numbers game. An additional three million Arabs in the Land of Israel will become a demographic bomb, which the Sokhnut will not be able to neutralize even by the massive importation of non-Jews from the former Union. And the last time will be like the first.

The Torah is, among other things, truth sealed in a time capsule. It contains lessons for all generations. And now it's our turn.

In today's section, the Torah tells us how to respond to the people who are trying to drive us into the sea:

“And the children of Israel went through the sea on dry land, and the waters became a wall to them on the right hand and on the left...” This verse says that the children of Israel were immersed in the sea as they walked on dry land. The Vilna Gaon explains: when the Jews approached the Red Sea, it was not at all about to part. The Egyptians pressed on. The waves crashed near the shore. What do you want me to do?

But then there was one daredevil. Nachshon son of Amminadab, leader of the tribe of Yehuda, was the first to enter the water up to his neck. And the sea could not resist this onslaught of faith - the waves parted, revealing a dry bottom. The first verse refers to Nachshon: it was for him that the sea became dry land. Other Jews walked on dry land created by his faith, his reckless trust in the Almighty.

The Jewish people do not have their own Ilya of Muromets, Spartak or Robin Hood. No one will give us deliverance - neither a good king nor a hero. But each of us can become Nachshon. Every Jew is capable of an act of reckless faith. This is genetically embedded in us. The recipe for such heroism is simple: rely entirely on the One who has preserved us to this day.

After all, there really is no one else up there except Him.