Posted on March 23, 2011
by Jennifer Krueger
I have always loved Parshat Beshalach. The Jews cross the Red Sea, Az Yashir is sung, Miriam and the woman dance with their timbrels and we are given manna from Hashem. When I sit at shul on Shabbat morning listening to the beautiful melody describing these incredible miracles, I am filled with joy and happiness. The miracles of Exodus comforts me with an awareness of Hashem’s presence in the World.
“And it was when Pharaoh sent the people, Hashem did not lead them by the land of the Philistines for Hashem said perhaps the people will regret and will return to Egypt.” Regret it? The Jews just witnessed Hashem taking them out of Egypt, they saw the deep love that he has for them. I was overcome by this feeling and I did not even witness the event directly. How could Hashem possibly think that the Jews, who witnessed his presence first hand, would loose faith in him and want to turn back to the care of the Egyptians?
I think this Pasuk is important for many reasons. It tells us that no matter how strong our faith is in Hashem and no matter what the level of our religious observance is, there will always be doubt inside of us. Human beings do not have the capacity to understand Hashem completely and to understand the way that the World works.
Many people say that having doubt is a negative aspect and one should not question the basic principles of Judaism. On the contrary, I think that doubt is a good thing. When we are unsure of something, it forces us to look at the deep questions inside of us and to search from some kind of truth. It forces us to not just accept what we have been told, but to look at the World from our own perspective and form our own answers that are meaningful to us. While no one will be able to understand Hashem completely, our questions shape who we are and motivate us to continue learning and attempting to discover the meaning of the universe. By acknowledging that the Jews who have just experienced Hashem’s miracles may have the desire to turn back to the Egyptians, Hashem is saying that is okay to have doubt. He understands that humans are not perfect and that they will never be sure of the way that the World works.
Users, faith is a very scary issue. Much of our whole religion is based on it. We are often scared to address the deep questions inside of us for fear that we will be turned off of Judaism or will venture into an area that is forbidden. Through this Passuk, Hashem is saying that it is okay for us to search deep inside of ourselves and find what we truly believe because only when we are true to ourselves can our faith be increased.
The miracles of Exodus aware us of Hashem’s presence in our daily lives. The crossing of the read sea, receiving manna, the ten plagues, and finally revelation are all direct proof that Hashem is here and wants to establish a direct relationship with us. Only through being true to ourselves will this connection be established. I want to wish you a Shabbat Shalom and I hope that when you hear the beautiful melody of Az Yashir on Shabbat morning, that you get the deep feeling of Hashem’s presence that we all seek.