1/21/2016

Shabbat BeShalah

Friday January 22nd Candles 4:41pm
Havdalah January 23rd 5:57pm
Tu BishVat, The New Year for Trees, Monday January 25th

Kiddush this week sponsored by Morad Ghadamian.

The Children of Israel leave Egypt. To avoid the Amalekite tribes along the nearer and quicker coastal plain, Moshe leads them south so that to get into Sinai and head towards Canaan they will have to cross the Red Sea (or the tidal lakes leading to it).

Anyone who has seen Hollywood’s version of the miracle when they crossed the water, whether Cecil B Demille’s or Ridley Scott’s will know that there are all kinds of theories as to what might have happened, from tsunamis, to tidal waves, to hurricanes.

What matters in the narrative was that miraculously, the Children of Israel survived by crossing when the water went out. Whereas Pharaoh’s pursuing army was swamped and destroyed when it came rushing back.

As with everything in the Torah one really needs to focus less on the mechanics and more on the message, which is that there are forces in our universe beyond our control. Sometimes they work out to our benefit, and at other times to our cost. How to harness this Divine energy has been the aim of all religions throughout history.

What strikes me about the Torah narrative is really how fragile miracles are. After all, despite having experienced this amazing salvation, within days the very same Children of Israel are complaining and asking to return to Egypt! That is why Maimonides says that miracles are lowest level of religious faith. You see, those who rely on miracles lose faith immediately when they don't see them. But those who know that one‘s future lies very much in their own hands, know that the role of the Divine is to help people cope, not to solve all their problems in a flash like superman. True love, true commitment is not dependent on immediate rewards.