By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
"The Children of Israel were armed when they went up from Egypt" Shemot
From the outset the Children of Israel were believers the sons of
believers. Before the plagues and the Exodus the Torah testifies that they
believed in Moshe as Hashem's true messenger as it says: "VaYamen Ha Am" -
The nation believed. The experience of the next year only took them higher
and higher in their trust in the Almighty as they witnessed the power and
glory of His miracles. As they left the civilized environs of Egypt and
set out for a journey through uninhabited wilderness, they took very
little in the way of food and water. They trusted that if they followed
Hashem's instruction He would provide for them. The 3 million travelers
were complimented by G-d through the words of the prophet years later:” I
remember the kindness of your youth...your going after Me in the desert in
a land that was uncultivated."
However, there seems to be a glaring contradiction in the next verse. The
Torah informs us that the same people who traveled with minimal provisions
left the land of Egypt armed and ready for war - and this was in spite of
the fact that Hashem led them on a circuitous route in order to avoid
confrontation with the dangerous Philistines. They took no food
demonstrating total trust although food would be a daily necessity yet they
also armed themselves for battle although the probability of confrontation
was remote. Were they true believers or not? Did they trust Hashem or their
The lesson is that taking natural steps to achieve one's goals is not a
contradiction to bitahon - trust in the Almighty - it is a requirement.
We see at the end of the parashah the brazen attack on the newly freed
slaves by the nation of Amalek. Moshe immediately instructs Yehoshua to
conduct a draft and select men suitable for victory in battle with the
enemy. The Mishnah at the end of tractate Rosh Hashanah describes the
battle. Whenever Moshe raised his hands heavenward and directed the
people's hearts towards G-d the Jews overpowered the enemy. If, however,
Moshe dropped his hands the Amalekites started to win the battle. In
effect, the armaments that the Jews carried out of Egypt were not the
factor that determined their victory nor was it the men chosen by Yehoshua
to fight the attackers. It was the people's trust in G-d that yielded
success. Why did Moshe rush Yehoshua to draft soldiers? Again we see that
although trust is the catalyst for success human effort is a requirement
for that trust to bring results.
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt'l was asked if a businessman is permitted to buy
hazard insurance. The question is that if the Almighty decides to burn a
warehouse full of inventory and cause the business a financial loss does a
man have the right to undermine the intentions of G-d, so to speak? Rav
Moshe ruled that not only is it permitted it is required. In all matters of
business a person should do whatever is natural to bring about success - so
long as one maintains Torah guidelines. Even though the work does not yield
success - it is the will of G-d that does the job - one must still do
things in a natural way.
The open miracles like the spiting of the sea and the daily heavenly food
mann reveal the power and the kindness of G-d with which He runs His world.
It is through these open miracles that one should learn that all human
history -nationally or individually - are miraculous. Our trust in Him
brings success to us.
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.