Rabbi Krakowski: Parshas Beshalach


In this week’s Sedra we read of the momentous Krias Yam Suf – the Splitting of the Red Sea.  The Torah tells us of the Shira Klal-Yisroel sang after its miraculous splitting and crossing of the sea.  Towards the beginning of the Shira the passuk tells us “This is my God…” The Medrash suggests that the implication of this statement is that there was an unbelievably real experience of Divine Revelation – to such an extent that Klal-Yisroel felt as though it could almost point to it.  The Medrash, in developing further its interpretation of this event, states that even a maidservant at the crossing of the Red Sea was able to see greater Divine Revelation then the Prophet Yechezkel (or Yechezkel ben Buzi).

While we understand that Krias-Yam-Suf may have been the most awesome event since creation of the world and of Man, it is still hard to imagine that a simple maidservant present at that Revelation could have been privy to prophecies greater than those of a major Prophet. Furthermore, it would seem from the Medrash that these maidservants, although able to understand such great Divine Revelation, nevertheless remained mere maidservants.  The awesomeness of the experience did not transform them or affect them beyond that moment in time.  

In the beginning of the Book of Yermiyahu, Hashem appears to Yirmiyahu through prophesies.  Once the Prophet has received these revelations Hashem asks Yirmiyahu what he saw. Yirmiyahu explains, and Hashem then tells Yirmiyahu that he saw well.

My Rebbe Rov Yisroel Belsky Shlita asks the obvious question: what does Hashem telling Yirmiyahu that he saw well mean? Rabbi Belsky answers: when a nevua is transmitted to the Navi it consists of a mere image – the interpretation of this image is left to the Navi. This is the more difficult part of a Nevua. In order for a Divine Revelation to translate into a message or prophecy, it must be appropriately interpreted otherwise it remains merely an unusual phenomenon.

While we have neither Nevua nor direct Divine Revelation we have the ability to experience hearing Hashem talk to us through learning His Torah. Usually, however, the Torah we learn doesn’t leave a strong and lasting impact upon us.  Perhaps this is the difference between a maidservant at the crossing of the Red Sea and a Prophet.

If we value Dvar Hashem when we learn we ought to reflect upon it. We shouldn’t view Torah study as a mere intellectual exercise, but rather as Divine revelation of a sort. If this is the case, a little bit of processing on our part may be necessary, but then every word of Torah would resonate with Hashem’s Voice and the lessons He wishes to impart to us.

A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski