B’SHALACH (Exodus, 13:17-17:16) — “Don’t Leave Home Without It!”

It’s the stereotypical situation.  You go on a trip.  The husband takes along whatever clothes and toiletries he knows he’ll need.  The wife shlepps along everything she has the slightest suspicion she MIGHT need.  Mr. argues with Mrs.  “C’mon, Honey, whaddaya need THAT for?!”

—————-

Men and women just don’t see things the same way.  Men are practical.  Women are emotional.  Women pack for a trip to Mars as if they are going all the way to Venus.  Men sometimes get exasperated over their wives’ lack of practicality.

Consider the very first Seder Night.  After Ten Plagues’ worth of obstinate refusal, the Pharaoh has just done a political flip-flop.  He is now DEMANDING that the Israelites leave.   NOW!

You’re packing your bags.  You can’t take much.  You don’t even have time to let your bread rise.  You grab your money, some weapons, all your credit cards… You’re going with barely more than the clothes on your back.  Wait a second… “Honey!  Where are you going with THOSE?!!”

Your wife has just packed her drum set into the back of the station wagon.

“Oh, I need these!” she responds.

“Honey, were going out into a desert!  We have to get out of Egypt as quickly as possible.  We can’t bring unnecessary luxuries.”

“It is NOT a luxury,” she answers.  It is absolutely essential!  We just can’t leave Egypt without it!”

“But, Honey!” …

You give up.  You know you’ve lost.  She is once again totally emotional, totally irrational, and totally illogical.  But you’re not going to fight about it.  You roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders, mumble about how strange women are, and finish your packing.

———-

One week later.

Pharaoh changed his mind.

He regrets releasing the Hebrew slaves from captivity.  He leads his army in hot pursuit.  The Red Sea is in front of you and the Egyptian cavalry is approaching rapidly. You begin to panic.  What are you going to do?

Suddenly, all of Nature turns upside down!  G-d splits the Red Sea and every other body of water in the world.  The Red Sea becomes a twelve-lane highway, and each tribe gets its own Red Sea tunnel through which to escape.  There are fresh fruits on trees and running fresh water for your eating and drinking pleasure as you stroll through the dry paths in the sea.  You are amazed by this unexpected miracle.

But wait!  What’s that you see?  The Egyptians have also taken advantage of this miracle.  They have followed you into the tunnel.  You won’t escape!  You begin to panic.  What are you going to do?

Suddenly, all of Nature turns rightside up!  G-d now closes up the sea.  The Egyptians are tossed around in the currents and their drowned bodies are deposited on the shore for all to see.  You are amazed by this unexpected miracle.

——————

You are dumbstruck by G-d’s Providence.  You are absolutely overwhelmed.  You have witnessed the Divine Presence of G-d up close.  You have experienced a level of prophecy that, according to our Sages, exceeded the greatest prophecies of Ezekiel.  You are thankful to G-d for His unexpected miracles.

You sing!

Then Moses and the Children of Israel sang this song to G-d, saying:  “I will sing to G-d for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse and rider into the sea…”  (Exodus, 15:1)

Your wife sings too!

Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took her drum in her hand and all the women went forth after her with drums and with dances.  Miriam spoke up to them, “Sing to G-d, for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse and rider into the sea…”  (Ibid. verse 20)

Drums?  Did someone say something about drums?

Rashi explains that the righteous Daughters of Israel were so sure that G-d was going to perform miracles for them that they brought their drums with them in order to properly celebrate G-d’s salvation.

Drums?  Aren’t those the drums you told your wife not to bring?  Aren’t those the drums you mumbled about, complaining about your wife’s lack of practicality?  Aren’t those the drums that your wife said were necessary?  Aren’t those the drums that your wife knew she needed in order to celebrate the miracles that SHE EXPEXCTED and you didn’t? Aren’t those the drums that demonstrate that your wife has more faith than you do??

Aren’t you embarrassed that in the interest of being “practical” you didn’t demonstrate as much faith as your wife did?

Aren’t you glad that G-d chose the Daughters of Israel to be the Mothers of Israel?

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

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To leave a comment about this article, or to read other readers’ comments on this article, scroll down past the archive links.

From the Archives

“Get Rich THIS TUESDAY!!!!” (2010)

… In all due respect to the great Rabbi Mendel, I am troubled by this concept.  Is it possible that a once-a-year reading of ninety-nine verses (33×2 in Hebrew +33 in Aramaic) is all we need to do to make a living?? 

It almost appears to be a “quick fix;” a short formula that guarantees results without too much work. (A “spiritual Amway!” 🙂 ) And Read the magical verses and the money will flow in!  No pain, big gain!…

Read more.

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“Because Your Father Said So!!” (2008)

… The Torah says to rest on the Sabbath. What’s more restful and relaxing than going fishing and then driving out to the ball park to watch the Red Sox? (Forgive the personal bias! 🙂 ) And who feels like walking to synagogue in the rain or scorching heat? The Torah says to rest on the Sabbath.

Why can’t I rest MY way?!

Read more.
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“Don’t Leave Home Without It!” (2007)

… Men and women just don’t see things the same way. Men are practical. Women are emotional. Women pack for a trip to Mars as if they are going all the way to Venus. Men sometimes get exasperated over their wives’ lack of practicality.

… the Pharaoh has just done a political flip-flop. He is now DEMANDING that the Israelites leave. NOW!

You’re packing your bags. You can’t take much. You don’t even have time to let your bread rise. You grab your money, some weapons, all your credit cards… You’re going with barely more than the clothes on your back. Wait a second… “Honey! Where are you going with THOSE?!!”

Your wife has just packed her drum set into the back of the station wagon.

“Oh, I need these!” she responds…

Read more.
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“Sticks and Stones” (2006)

… Moses lifted his “magic wand” … This was obviously one very powerful stick. Moses had pulled it out of the ground in his future father-in-law’s garden, a feat that no one else was able to accomplish. As a result, Jethro understood that Moses was destined to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. (The origin, perhaps, of the legend of King Arthur and Excalibur???)

… This was the staff that turned into a snake. This was the staff that turned the Nile to blood and wreaked havoc and destruction upon the Egyptians. This stick had punished the Egyptians at the Red Sea… the Israelites didn’t particularly care for Moses’ walking stick. It was destructive. It caused suffering in Egypt, and at the Red Sea. It was a killer stick. It seemed only good for punishment.
Was it capable of doing anything POSITIVE??

Read more.
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“Some People Just Don’t Get It!” (2005)

Ah, they don’t make kings the way they used to! Or do they?

The king of Egypt was, to say the least, a very stubborn man. He never did seem to get it. His country was absolutely destroyed over his obstinate refusal to release his Hebrew slaves. Repeatedly, Moses told him to let the Israelites leave. Repeatedly, he refused. Repeatedly, he responded to G-d’s punishment with a contrite promise to comply. Repeatedly, he changed his mind… Sort of reminds us of most of today’s world leaders. No matter what Israel does, it’s no good. No matter what the Arab terrorists do, they are “freedom fighters,” peaceful people who have been driven from their homeland by vicious Zionist marauder. The U.N. and the European Union don’t seem to recognize the truth when it stares them in the face. They just don’t get it… Why can’t the world’s leaders be more like the king of Nineveh? …

Read more.
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“Singing the Red Sea Blues” (2003)

… It was a sacred symphony; a song of praise totally unprecedented in world history. It was such an exalted event that the angels themselves could not be silent. They too, wanted to join in and sing to G-d. (After all, that’s what angels DO. They sing praises to G-d!)

G-d silenced them…

Read more.
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“Is Democracy a Torah Concept?” (2002)

… Four-fifths of the Nation of Israel preferred not to leave Egypt. Why not? Medrash Rabbah (13,3) says that they had “Patronin” (translation: patronage?) from the Egyptians and they didn’t want to give up their wealth and honor by leaving Egypt.

This is truly mind-boggling. 80% of the Israelites preferred to remain, at best, as second-class citizens in Egypt, rather than to follow Moses to freedom. Obviously, Moses was far from universal popularity. He was not the heroic freedom fighter leading a grass-roots rebellion against the Pharaoh. If anything, he was probably considered a troublemaker, a rabble-rouser.

What would have happened if there had been a New York Times/Gallop Poll in Egypt? Can you see the headlines? “Eighty Per Cent Choose Status Quo…Moses Said to be Preparing Concession Speech.”…

Read more.
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“Restoring ‘G__’s Thr__’” (2001)

… when the nations of the world saw what G-d had done for us, they were united in their fear of the Israelites. They didn’t love us, but at least they respected us.

Only Amalek had the Chutzpah to attack… What G-d is telling Moses is that “Neither My Name nor My Throne will be complete as long as Amalek is around!”

Why would G-d’s name be incomplete with Amalek around? Is it possible that Amalek has the power to affect G-d??! How could that be?…

Read more.

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This is the weekly message at http://www.torahtalk.org. Copyright © 2000-2014  by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.
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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (www.Brisrabbi.com) and chaplain in Monsey, New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.
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Published in: on February 1, 2007 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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