This week’s Parsha, Beshalach, relates the tale of the Israelites’ hasty departure from Mitzrayim, and the pursuit of the Egyptians. In a famous and breathtaking episode, G-d instructs Moshe Rabbenu to outstretch his hand, and the Red Sea splits, allowing them to pass. It closes over the Egyptians, and the children of Israel sing in gratitude as they realise that they are free. However, when they reach the desert, they complain endlessly about the bitter water and lack of food, problems which are solved miraculously when the water turns sweet and G-d sends down quails and manna, which the Israelites are commanded not to gather on shabbes.
In the second portion of Beshalach, we read about the Israelites’ fear towards the Egyptians who pursued them as they fled from Mitzrayim. Moshe Rabbenu said to them, ”Don’t be afraid! Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation that He will wreak for you today, for the way you have seen the Egyptians is today, you shall no longer continue to see them for eternity”. Rashi interprets these words as meaning; ”The way you have seen them-that is only today. It is [only] today that you have seen them, but you shall no longer continue [to see them]”. What does this teach us about overcoming our obstacles?
Mitzrayim is, in many ways, a metaphor for the hardships we go through. Physical hardships. Spiritual hardships. The time spent in Mitzrayim is a parallel to the times when we feel as if we will never be able to be happy or live a fulfilled life. And Rashi’s interpretation of Moshe Rabbenu’s words teaches us that, just as there was an Exodus from Egypt, just as we fled from the slavery and hardships there, so, too, will we free from the ‘slavery’ we are trying to overcome in our day-to-day lives. Rashi tells us how to view these hardships; ” It is [only] today that you have seen them, but you shall no longer continue [to see them]”.
In other words, have emunah. Have faith in G-d. Tomorrow, the exile will be over; our hardships will be behind us. But also, follow Moshe Rabbenu’s lead, and act. Yes, emunah is all important. Yes, we must believe that G-d is with us and that He will help resolve our problems. But if Moshe Rabbenu had done nothing- if he had just sat there, and waited for the Exodus to happen- then who knows if we would ever have left Mitzrayim (cv”s). Like all things in life, it’s a balancing act. Have faith; and act upon it.