Table Talk: Beshalach
Mixed Messages: At the beginning of the portion God chose to take Israel on an indirect route out of Egypt in order to prevent them from being exposed to war and being frightened
of their new journey. God did not expect them to possess
super faith that God would protect them. And yet, when they complain out of hunger and thirst in middle of the desert they are reprimanded; “Is God’s hand too limited to help?” I understand that their experience of the miracles of the splitting of the Red Sea should have inspired greater faith, But, isn’t it too much of a leap from the beginning of the portion until the end?
“The wise of heart will seize good deed,” (Proverbs 10:8) This refers to Moses who collected the bones of Joseph while all else were collecting money from the Egyptians. (Sotah 13a) 1) The Jews had a Mitzvah to collect the money from the Egyptians! God even asked them as a favor to Him, so that God could assure Abraham that God fulfilled the promise that Israel would leave Egypt with great wealth. 2) Why is Moshe’s action considered a reflection of wisdom, as in “the wise man”, rather than an ethical choice? 3) Moses was a Cohen. How could he collect the bones of a dead person?
Exodus 15:2: “This is my God and I will beautify Him.” How can someone beautify God? A person must have a beautiful Lulav, a beautiful Succah, beautiful Tzitzit and a beautiful prayer.
Abba Shaul taught that this means I must emulate God; Just as God is compassionate, so too, I should be compassionate.
Rabbi Joseph ben Durmasakis taught that this means that we must build a beautiful Temple for God.
Rabbi Yosi taught that this means that we must praise God for His beauty. Rabbi Akiva taught that this means we must praise God in such a manner that all nations will understand why we are willing to sacrifice everything in order to have a relationship with God. (Mechilta)