“And it came to pass that when Pharaoh had let the people go, that G-d led them not through the way of the land of the Pelishtim, although that was near, for G-d said, “Lest the people fear when they see war and want to return to Egypt.” (13: 16, 17)
“Then came Amaleq, and fought Yisrael in Refidim. And Moshe said to Yehoshua, “Choose us out men, and go out – fight with Amaleq ! “. (17: 8, 9)
Parshat Beshalach begins by clearly describing Am Yisrael as inexperienced in strategies of war, amateurs that vaguely remembered legends of the golden days of Shimon and Levi. Back in Egypt, Pharaoh used psychological tactics to enslave the people. It was his decree to hold ones tongue, to bite one’s tongue. All freedom of expression was suppressed by his ironbound security that did not enable even freedom of thought. That is how they became slaves.
The parsha ends with a climate so Cosmo politically different, a “perestroika” of advocates that indeed were armed and ready for war. Chazal tell us that only 50 days passed from the first passuk and its description of their utter ineptness in battle to the major change of the readiness to fight. What transpired in that short time was the greatest of miracles, the miracle of the splitting of the sea. At that moment of revelation of G-d’s wonders, when as if all that Hashem had done for them until now “wasn’t enough”, finally Am Yisrael were finally able to know Hashem’s manifestation and recognize their birth as new individuals, and as a new nation of champions. Up until that point they were slaves set free, forming thoughts. Now they knew their voice and used it to sing in prophecy. This was the new baby’s first cry. The great joy Am Yisrael expressed at Shirat HaYam brought about a change at sea, transforming these journeymen into advocates, vindicators of Hashem’s word in the world. Now they were ready to sound the call to arms!
When a person finds his voice and uses it to be an advocate in these crucial times, he is his assisting Israel in winning the ultimate battle of all time, the one that spreads truth and light to the world. Let us hear you!
Shabbat Shalom Leah Goldsmith