Parshat Beshalach-Eitan Feifel (YEWWWW)

Posted on January 29, 2015

In last week’s parsha, Pharaoh finally allowed the Jews to leave Eretz Mitzrayim. Now, in Parshat Beschalach, Pharaoh yet again changes his mind, and decides to chase after the Jews. The Jews are then trapped between the Dead Sea and the Egyptians. They are afraid and angry, and they turn to Moshe, who cries out to God. God tells Moshe that his prayers will be answered, however he must take action for it. Following this, Nachshon ben Aminadav jumps into the water and as it reaches his neck, the sea parts, letting the Jews pass. From this we learn we cannot just pray to Hashem and hope for the best, but rather, we must take action along with prayer. Afterwards the Jews spend three days by the sea collecting any extra treasure, where it’s said  they dismissed Torah learning for three days (so we now do kriyat hatorah Monday, Thursday and Shabbat, so we don’t go 3 days without Torah). Then, the Jews go through a series of complaints, about water, then food, then meat, etc. As a sort of punishment, Hashem sends Amalek to attack the Jews, and afterwards Hashem tells the Jewish People that they should never forget what Amalek did to them and that Hashem erased their name from the heavens. Why would Hashem bring such tragedy to the Jewish People and then erase Amaleks name and tell the Jews to never forget what they did?
It seems like Hashem isn’t truly saying ‘Never forget what Amalek did’ but it seems like it’s more along the lines of ‘always remember what you did to deserve this’. Whenever the Jews find themselves off-track and out of place, He sends a reminder, we’ve seen this many times throughout history. Hashem sent Amalek, just as he did Haman, and even the Shoah. This week of January 27, is a week where we remember the liberation of Auschwitz, and in general, the Holocaust. You can see a direct connection between the attack of Amalek and the Holocaust, both event we are told to ‘never forget’. It’s says, the Jews should never be completely comfortable in a foreign land and should never completely affiliate themselves with the lifestyle of a foreign land i.e. they should always remember who they are and separate themselves from the public. If the Jewish People as a whole begin to sin, assimilate, or forget their roots, Hashem sends them a reminder. It can be small or big and a very drastic reminder, and from each reminder we learn from our mistakes and are put back on track. No matter where you are, Judaism should set you apart from others, and outside of Eretz Yisrael you should never make yourself too comfortable.
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