Kinder Torah - Parshat Beshalach
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table
"Abba, I'm cold. The wind is blowing very hard."
"Come close to me, my son, and I will try to keep you warm."
"Abba, I'm scared. What are we going to do? We are trapped. The sea is in front of us, the Egyptians are behind us, and there are wild animals from the desert on both sides of us. Where can we go?"
"My son, some say that we should return to Egypt and go back to slavery. They say that it is better to live as a slave than to die here in the desert. Others say that we should fight the Egyptians right here and now. Still others say that we should make loud noises to frighten them off. The last group says that we should throw ourselves into the sea. It is better to trust in the compassion of the Merciful One, than to fall to the hands of our enemies."
"Abba, what are we going to do?"
"My son, let us listen to our leader, Moshe Rabbeinu. He is speaking now."
"Do not fear. Stand fast and see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform for you today. As you see Egypt today, you will never see them again!"
"Abba look! Someone is entering the sea! Who is he?"
"That is Nachshon Ben Aminadav, the prince of the tribe of Yehuda."
"Abba, all of his tribe is following him into the sea! They are signaling for all of us to follow them."
"Come my son. Do not be afraid.
Trust in Hashem."
"Abba, the water is cold. It is almost up to my nose. Soon I will not be able to breathe."
"Look my son! The water is splitting and running away from us. It is piling up to form huge walls on either side of us. And look, the strong wind is drying out the floor of the sea beneath our feet! There are pillars of fire and clouds behind us, protecting us from the Egyptians."
"Abba, Hashem is saving us."
We may sometimes think that we are in difficult situations. A hard test in school, a neighbor who is difficult to get along with, or a chavrusa who is always late. Whenever the going gets tough, just think about the Jewish people at the edge of the Yam Suf. That was really an impossible situation. Yet, Hashem pulled them through. They did His will by following their leaders, and He did His part by performing great miracles. When you do what Hashem wants, you will receive the siyata dishmaya (Heavenly assistance) to pull through.
Amalek. The perpetual nemesis of the Jewish people. Where and how did the conflict with Amalek begin? The Children of Israel were encamped in Refidim. There was no water to drink. They fought with Moshe, demanding water. "Why did you take us out of Egypt to die of thirst in the desert?" (Shemos 17:3). Hashem instructed Moshe to take his staff, strike the rock, and water will come out. He did so and the rebellion stopped. "The place was called 'Masse Umeriva' (literally test and contention) because of the fighting of the Children of Israel and their testing of Hashem by saying, 'Is Hashem among us or not?'" (Shemos 17:7). Then came Amalek.
Rashi has a parable to this episode. A man once took his son on his shoulders and went out on the road. The son saw something nice by the side of the road. "Abba, can you pick that nice thing up and give it to me?" he asked. The father picked it up and gave it to his son. The son saw another goodie lying by the road. "Abba can you also get that for me?" Of course the father got it for him. The same thing happened a third time. They father and son them met a man on the road. The son asked the man, "Have you seen my father?" The father said to his son,"You do not know where I am?" He took the boy off his shoulders and a dog came along and bit him. So too with the Jewish people. Hashem is always found among us. He is ready and waiting to fulfill all of our needs. How can we dare say,"Is Hashem among us or not?"
Let us have a contest at the Shabbos table. Everyone try to think of an example of Hashem helping him. How about the time that your neighbor lost his scooter. You put up signs for hashovas aveida (returning a lost object). Someone found his scooter, read the sign, and returned it to your neighbor. Then you lost your wallet. That very same neighbor whom you helped find his scooter, found your wallet! Is there any doubt that Hashem is among us?
The Torah writes in Shemos 15:2,"Zeh Keli V'anveihu, This is my G-d and I will glorify Him." The Gemora (Shabbos 133b) explains that this verse teaches us to beautify the mitzvos. We should acquire a beautiful sukkah, lulav, shofar, tzitzis, Sefer Torah, etc. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l, explains that a person puts effort into the things that are important to him in life. His home, furnishings, and sustenance are all important to him. Therefore, he invests time and monetary resources into beautifying them. What is the most meaningful thing a person can do with his life? Learn Torah and fulfill the mitzvos. Consequently, he must perform them in the most beautiful manner possible, taking care to do them properly. He should not just rush through them fulfilling the minimum requirements.
How do we make our brochos (blessings)? How do we pray? Let us make sure that we take the proper time and care to pray and say brochos with kavanna (proper concentration). After all, we are speaking to Hashem. When we do an act of chessed (kindness) for someone, let's do it wholeheartedly with a big smile. We can glorify Hashem by learning Torah with great enthusiasm. We should build our family relationships with the utmost love, care, and respect. Shabbos, when observed correctly, is a day of complete kedusha (holiness). Hashem wants us to put our best efforts into His Torah and mitzvos. This brings Him the glory of Zeh Keli V'anveihu.
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