Parshat Beshalach: Closing the Circle

2 02 2012

Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles  

In Parshat Beshalach, the Jewish people ask, “Hayesh Hashem birkbeinu im ayin?” (Is Hashem among us or not?) They had just experienced unbelievable miracles in Egypt and at the Red Sea. They witnessed miracles daily in the desert. How did they now doubt Hashem’s presence? Why did Amalek come immediately after this incident to attack the Jews? What was the significance of Moshe’s hand being held up high during the battle?

Amalek’s attack was a reflection of a certain coldness that had set in among the Jews. They didn’t feel a connection to Hashem. Surprisingly, it is possible to live a life filled with Torah and mitzvot devoid of consciousness. This is true in the realms of thoughtandofaction. We must stop and ask ourselves, “Are we serving Hashem with feeling? Do we sense Him accompanying us or are we walking alone?”

The Mishna says that during the battle with Amalek, when the Jewish people looked upwards and subjugated their hearts to Hashem, they were victorious. Reaching a level of closeness and oneness with Hashem means serving Him with the mind and the heart. Only then can we win the battle with our evil inclination.

The Netivot Shalom points out that the Jewish people encountered Amalek precisely before they reached Sinai. When we commit to begin growing, Amalek rears his head and says, “Who do you think you are? How can you handle this?” That’s the “Hayesh Hashem b’kirbeinu,” the doubtful enemy. We have to fight that inner voice.

The Rebbe of Vizhnitz taught, “V’haser satan milfnanei ume’achareinu.” When we are inspired to reach for greatness, the Satan begins to question, “You? Look what you just did, look what you are about to do!” We must not let that doubt overtake us.

Rav Wolbe explains that when the people asked, “Hayesh Hashem,” they weren’t questioning Hashem‘s existence. They questioned his method of interacting with them. Is it on a level of yesh, somewhat comprehending Hashem, or on a level of ayin, not understanding Him at all?

Rabbi Tatz notes that the hands are the limbs of action and the head is the limb of understanding. When the hands are held higher than the head, we affirm that practice comes before understanding. The Jews said, “Naaseh v’nishma,” we will do what is true and right regardless of our inclinations. In contrast, Amalek put his ego first. Moshe dramatically demonstrated with his hands held high above his head that what matters most is action.

Singing to Hashem means living a life dedicated to Him, putting the hands over the head. We must walk with Hashem, and dedicate our mindset to beautifying the mitzvot, feeling connected to Him, and elevating our spiritual, mental, and emotional state to serve Him.




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