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This Week`s Parsha - BESHALACH
Three days following the Children of Israel`s exodus from Egypt, Pharaoh pursues them up to the Yam Suf, Reed Sea. The verse describes the pursuit:
AND BEHOLD I AM STRENGTHENING THE HEART OF EGYPT AND THEY SHALL COME AFTER THEM. (14:17)
ďIn the way that a man wishes to go; he is led (by Hashem)Ē (Talmud Makos 10B).
How could Pharaoh and the Egyptians be so foolish? After experiencing the powerful Hand of Hashem through the ten devastating plagues, the Egyptians would have been expected to capitulate; instead they ardently pursued the Children of Israel into the sea. What pushed them to continue in this losing battle?
Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztíl explains; the leaders of Egypt, as well as Pharaoh, although they had been forced by the Plagues to send Israel free, were still desirous of revenge and perhaps of recapturing Israel. Therefore Hashem led them on and made them continue in their stubbornness to bring about a greater Awareness of Hashem in the world. The desires of the Egyptians led to their destruction.
This is demonstrated again when the Egyptians caught up to Israel at Yam Suf, the Reed Sea, as the verses state:
AND HASHEM TURNED BACK THE SEA BY A STRONG EAST-WIND ALL THE NIGHT. (14:21)
Rabbi Miller explains; The wind was entirely unnecessary, for it was naturally unable to split the sea open and create a pathway as the verse concludes ďAnd it made the sea into dry land and the waters were split apartĒ This was entirely a miracle, which resulted when ďMoshe stretched out his arm over the seaĒ as Hashem had commanded him (14:16).
But two factors participated in this arrangement:
1) Egypt was misled into believing that the splitting of the sea could be attributed to the strong east-wind, and therefore they did not hesitate to enter between the two halves of the sea in pursuit after Israel. Had they seen the sea open without some form of natural explanation, Egypt would not have ventured into the sea; because if it could be split miraculously it could also come together miraculously to drown them.
2) Hashem utilizes His laws of nature as much as possible, for they were created by Him. Even though the wind would actually be ineffective, yet the impression would be gained that the wind participated in splitting the sea. Even this, although not actually effective, was the miraculous result of the foregoing action: ďAnd Moshe stretched out his arm . (Similar examples of combination of natural causes together with miracles are found frequently. Hashem commanded Moshe to go up to the mountain-top to see the land of Canaan.-Bamidbar 27: 12-13, and Moshe saw the entire land from the north to the south-Dvarim 34:1-3. This was purely a miracle, because even from the mountain-top no man can see so far. But the viewing from the mountain-top, although entirely ineffective, combined a seemingly-natural cause together with the miracle.)
We learn from here that the intellect is governed by an individualís passion, not the contrary.
So it was with Pharaoh and the Egyptians. If they hadnít been obsessed with pursuing the Israelites and to take them back as slaves, they would have capitulated and given up the foolishness of pursuing the Israelites into the sea. They would not have allowed themselves to be convinced that the splitting of the sea could be attributed to the strong east-wind.
This is the job of mankind, to rise above the mundane, and to allow the intellect to govern our actions and deeds. We must know that our purpose on Earth is to emulate Hashem, the Creator of All, whose abundant kindness knows no end. We therefore must perform acts of kindness and goodness and make the world a better place. This can only be accomplished through the study of the Holy Torah which teaches how one must pursue intellect, perform kindness, and to serve the needs of the community rather than to serve our own selfish needs.