Saturday 19th January 2019 13th Sh’vat 5779
Parashat Beshalach by Herschel Raysman
Exo 13:17 – 17:16; Judges 4:4 – 5:31; Matt 14:22 – 33
17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt."
18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.
19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you."
20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness.
21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.
22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.
It’s interesting that our parasha begins with what G-d did NOT do. The land of Canaan was only 11 days away from Egypt, but God did not lead them directly on that route because He knew that when they faced a trial or a difficulty, they would want to return to Egypt. And, of course, this turned out to be so true. Each and every time they were faced with a lack of water or food, they complained and wanted to go back to Egypt. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t know! So, HaShem determined to lead them away from Egypt, after the final defeat of the pursuing Egyptian army so that returning to Egypt would no longer be an option.
The process of ‘justification’ was virtually instantaneous. They slaughtered the lamb at 3 pm in the afternoon, applied the blood and came out that night on the 14th Nissan i.e. after sunset. But, before they could enter the Promised Land, they first had to navigate 40 years in the wilderness, symbolic of the process of sanctification.
Sanctification takes a lifetime and cannot be rushed. If the desire of our hearts is to serve HaShem,