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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Embarrassed to Admit I Even I Mixed Up Bible Text and Commentary, Torah Portion, Beshalach

A couple of days ago, I had a blog post in my head based on Parshat Shavua, the Weekly Torah Portion. When I began writing it I discovered that the specific event I was comparing to Israel's legendary and totally effective bombing of the enemy airfields, isn't written in the Torah. The story of Nachson's step in the Reed Sea is from a Midrash. I felt like a total idiot. I've always made a point of basing my understanding on what's written in the Tanach/Bible, not on commentary.

I wrote the following on facebook:
I'm devastated to discover that the story of Nachshon stepping into the sea, which caused it to split is just midrash. I was looking for the Bible verse and it doesn't exist.
Many friends admitted to the same mistake. Scrap that blog post.

Then I read the whole Torah Portion, Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16), in shul. Among what's really written towards the end a couple of verses, which I've chosen as crucial lessons for us Sh'mot, Exodus 17:11-12.


וְהָיָ֗ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָרִ֥ים מֹשֶׁ֛ה יָד֖וֹ וְגָבַ֣ר יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְכַאֲשֶׁ֥ר יָנִ֛יחַ יָד֖וֹ וְגָבַ֥ר עֲמָלֵֽק׃
Then, whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; but whenever he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

וִידֵ֤י מֹשֶׁה֙ כְּבֵדִ֔ים וַיִּקְחוּ־אֶ֛בֶן וַיָּשִׂ֥ימוּ תַחְתָּ֖יו וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב עָלֶ֑יהָ וְאַהֲרֹ֨ן וְח֜וּר תָּֽמְכ֣וּ בְיָדָ֗יו מִזֶּ֤ה אֶחָד֙ וּמִזֶּ֣ה אֶחָ֔ד וַיְהִ֥י יָדָ֛יו אֱמוּנָ֖ה עַד־בֹּ֥א הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃
But Moses’ hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur, one on each side, supported his hands; thus his hands remained steady until the sun set.
I have no doubt that nothing has changed for the Jewish People, from three thousand plus 3,000+ years ago, until today. When we, the Jewish People and State of Israel use our strength, united against our enemies we will prevail, but if we show weakness we will lose.

Our security and survival isn't dependant on others, only on how we behave.

The State of Israel does not need the approval and support of foreign leaders and countries. Our greatest victories occurred without any outside help. When we have depended on others for security advice, like the 1973 Yom Kippur War, we were almost defeated.

King David explains it very simply when he prepared for his fight with Goliath. At the time, David was an unknown shepherd who had been sent to bring supplies to his older brothers. When he heard the taunts of the giant Goliath, he rushed to the fore and discovered King Saul and soldiers paralyzed with fear. ISamuel 17:10-11

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֔י אֲנִ֗י חֵרַ֛פְתִּי אֶת־מַעַרְכ֥וֹת יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה תְּנוּ־לִ֣י אִ֔ישׁ וְנִֽלָּחֲמָ֖ה יָֽחַד׃
And the Philistine ended, “I herewith defy the ranks of Israel. Get me a man and let’s fight it out!”
וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע שָׁאוּל֙ וְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֖י הָאֵ֑לֶּה וַיֵּחַ֥תּוּ וַיִּֽרְא֖וּ מְאֹֽד׃ (פ)
When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and terror-stricken.

וְדָוִד֩ בֶּן־אִ֨ישׁ אֶפְרָתִ֜י הַזֶּ֗ה מִבֵּ֥ית לֶ֙חֶם֙ יְהוּדָ֔ה וּשְׁמ֣
David volunteered to fight the giant and then rejected the offer of Saul's weapons and protective gear. He became our king, and even the Messiah is descended from him, because he always recognized that it's Gd's power that controls our victories and defeats, not conventional armies and weapons.
גַּ֧ם אֶֽת־הָאֲרִ֛י גַּם־הַדּ֖וֹב הִכָּ֣ה עַבְדֶּ֑ךָ וְֽ֠הָיָה הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֨י הֶעָרֵ֤ל הַזֶּה֙ כְּאַחַ֣ד מֵהֶ֔ם כִּ֣י חֵרֵ֔ף מַעַרְכֹ֖ת אֱלֹהִ֥ים חַיִּֽים׃ (ס)
Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and that uncircumcised Philistine shall end up like one of them, for he has defied the ranks of the living God.

וַיֹּאמֶר֮ דָּוִד֒ יְהוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִצִּלַ֜נִי מִיַּ֤ד הָֽאֲרִי֙ וּמִיַּ֣ד הַדֹּ֔ב ה֣וּא יַצִּילֵ֔נִי מִיַּ֥ד הַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֖י הַזֶּ֑ה (ס) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר שָׁא֤וּל אֶל־דָּוִד֙ לֵ֔ךְ וַֽיהוָ֖ה יִהְיֶ֥ה עִמָּֽךְ׃
The LORD,” David went on, “who saved me from lion and bear will also save me from that Philistine.” “Then go,” Saul said to David, “and may the LORD be with you!”
The State of Israel will only be safe, secure and truly sovereign when our political leaders are willing to accept what King David instinctively knew. Gd is our "secret weapon," and as long as we stay loyal to Gd, we will be victorious and thrive.

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