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Parshas Beshalach

My “My”

By Rabbi Label Lam

…This is my G-d and I will glorify Him… (Shemos 15:2)

His glorious honor was revealed to them and they pointed with a finger. (Shemos Rabbah) A maidservant by the sea saw what was not shown to the prophets. (Mechilta – Rashi)

This verse of actual song sung spontaneously and simultaneously by the entire Jewish Nation reveals the profundity of their collective experience. One operative word is “this”. “This” implies that something tangible or visible is there to point at. Even simple folk were elevated beyond the vision of the greatest prophets. There’s another potent notion here in addition to their having experienced Divinity in such a direct way. We can point ourselves to another operative word that deserves strong emphasis. Which word is it?

Years back I called a close personal friend on a fast day, the 17th of Tamuz, to tell him that we had been learning Chovos HaLevavos outside by the Yeshiva and the Rebbe was saying how everything we see and hear is a signal from HASHEM, “even a little dog or squirrel that gets run over!” He repeated it with strong emphasis, “Even a little dog or squirrel that gets run over…” I was waiting for a bird to fall out of a tree at that moment but instead a fellow walked over to the table where we were sitting and asked in a slight panic mode, “What should I do? I just hit a dog!” We referred him to someone who might be helpful and we went back to our learning. I was amazed. Why did he come to our table? Why at that time with that piece of information? Wow!

My friend told me, “That’s nothing! You won’t believe what just happened to me!” He was in the process of looking for a shidduch - a match. He had been dating a girl that lived in Brooklyn and was commuting more than three hours each way. That Sunday he decided that she was not the one for him.

He spoke to the matchmaker who proposed another shidduch. My friend thought it inappropriate to end the relationship with just a phone call, and he was ready to make another long distance trip just to conclude things face to face. Only then would he seriously entertain a future prospect. The matchmaker challenged the premise but my friend insisted. The persistent matchmaker requested that my good friend ask one of the great local Rabbanim. “Ask Rabbi Miller or the Bubover Rebbe!” My friend felt it was too much of an imposition to trouble these big people with his small question and so he set off on the long journey home. Before leaving Brooklyn, though, he stopped off and bought 150 new Rabbi Miller tapes.

The next day he did as he would regularly do and drive to work 45 minutes each way listening to an audio tape from Rabbi Avigdor Miller. That day he reached into the back and grabbed randomly one the new 150 tapes. As he was arriving at his work place the lecture-portion ended and a question and answer period began as was the customary format. Rabbi Miller asked for “questions on any subject”. The first question, “Can a man date more than one woman at a time!” My friend almost drove off the road! Of all the questions, of all the tapes, of all the times, why now!? (People like to know the answer to the question. Rabbi Miller answered succinctly, “Yes but on two conditions, 1) The man is serious about marriage and 2) those women should know nothing about each other!”)

In the midst of the sea, each individual, in a singular moment, became strongly aware that not only is there “a” G-d with an indefinite article, but that G-d is “my” personal G-d that knows and cares and interacts with the minutiae of my daily life. If one pays close enough attention to the more than occasional cosmic wink, one may find that the encounter that seemed uniquely historically theirs, may actually be your and my “my”.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.


 

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