Vertluch: Parshas Beshalach


The end of this weeks parsha discusses how Amalek approached and waged war against klal Yisroel, as the pasuk says ‘Amalek came and fought with bnei Yisroel in Refidim.’ (17; 8). The Jews were a nation that had just experienced an exodus from the world’s most powerful country and had the entire world in awe of them. Suddenly, without warning, Amalek attacked them; what they accomplished was that they had cooled down the boiling hot bath. Up until that point bnei Yisroel were viewed as invulnerable and untouchable-but Amalek disproved that attitude to the world by attacking them.

The very next pasuk says ‘So Moshe said to Yehoshua, Pick men for us, and go out and fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ (17;9)

Rashi comments and says that Moshe told Yehoshua to pick ‘strong people who were strong and scared to sin in order that their zechusim should help them win this war’. (17;9)

Many meforshim ask the simple question. How was it possible for someone to determine if one was a yirei shomayim or not? How is it even possible to establish this criterion?

Gemara in Berachos says that the day Reb Elazar ben Azarya was appointed the Nasi for klal Yisroel they had to add four hundred additional benches to the Beis Medrash; the yeshiva had grown tremendously. What caused so many more to come learn? The gemara comments that when Reb Yochanan was Nasi he only allowed those who were tocho kebaro inside the Beis Medrash to learn. He had a guard placed outside the door who would check before allowing someone in; those who weren’t couldn’t come in. However, the same question applies here: how did these guards know whether or not this scholar was indeed tocho kebaro?

The answer is that when the students approached to enter and were told that they couldn’t because they didn’t qualify, how did the react? The ones that reacted and said that they would try again a different time and left, weren’t tocho kebaro. But the ones who said ok and then got inside by different means or through a less common entrance, were indeed tocho kebaro!

We learn from this that the true colors and nature of a person is not show when things are going well but rather when the going gets rough. When something becomes difficult we then see how a person acts and we say that’s really how this person is. Tough times don’t last, tough people do.

Gemara says that Nevuchadneztar harasha started saying shiros to Hakadosh Baruch Hu and they were so magnificent and beautiful that they would’ve dishonored the tehillim written by Dovid HaMelech. Malach Gavriel came along though and smacked him on the mouth; he immediately stopped singing his praises. But why? If they were so wonderful why would Hashem stop him? What was wrong with letting him praise Hashem?

Kotzker Rebba says that the malach wasn’t coming to stop him but rather he said to him that right now you’re saying shira because everything is good. But i’m going to give u a whack now; now that things aren’t so first-rate let’s see if you’re still going to sing my praises. But he didn’t.

It’s not that Hashem wasn’t interested but rather He wanted to see how Nevuchadneztar would act once he was a little more uncomfortable as those are the moments that define a person; and this is especially true when it comes to yiddishkeit. Bnei Yisroel just got free from slavery and it was hard; they were looking for a rest. The very fact that these people volunteered and came forth to help out showed that they were indeed true yirei shomayim.