Illogical Treatment May Yield Bonanza For The Nation That is
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape #667 – The Supernatural and the “Mun” dane. Good Shabbos!
The Parsha begins “And it was when Pharaoh sent out the nation and the L-rd did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines for it was close. For the L-rd said ‘lest the people fear when they see warfare and return to Egypt'” [Shmos 13:17]. The most logical route for traveling from Egypt to the Land of Canaan is by way of the land of the Philistines. However G-d did not want them to take that route precisely “because it was close”.
Rashi interprets the words “ki karov hu” [because it was close] at a “simple” (peshat) level to mean that the proximity between Egypt and Canaan via the land of the Philistines would be a drawback in the sense that any slight setback could send the Jews scurrying back to Egypt. Rashi alludes to the fact that there are also many Medrashic interpretations to this expression.
The Daas Zekeinim m’baalei haTosfos offers a novel interpretation: “Ki karov hu” should be translated for He is their relative, as it states elsewhere “to the Children of Israel, the nation related to Him (am k’rovo) [Tehillim 148:14]. According to this translation, “ki karov hu” has nothing to do with geography and nothing to do with the route. It relates to the closeness (literally the relationship) between the Jews and the Almighty. Since Klal Yisrael is the relative of G-d, they should not travel the normal route.
The Rosh Yeshiva of the Chevron Yeshiva, Rav Simcha Zissel Brody, elaborates on the Daas Zekeinim m’baalei haTosfos. A great lesson for life lies in these few words of the Daas Zekeinim. We Jews believe that we have a special closeness to the Almighty. As such, we are subject to personal Divine Providence (Hashgocha Pratis). What is normal and logical for the rest of the world is not necessarily what the Master of the World wants for His special people. For His special people, the Almighty – as it were – takes them by their hand and leads them through life. Were we to logically think out what is the best way to accomplish something, we would come to a different conclusion. But we have to have faith in the Almighty that He is treating us differently. He is treating us differently as a nation and He treats us differently as individuals.
The lesson is – and this is a lesson that is so much easier said than done – that when things happen in life and we ask ourselves “This does not make any sense; why is this happening to me?”; we have to remember that “He is close to us”. He is taking us by the hand and is giving us a different type of treatment. Things do not always work logically or the way we would want them to.
Imagine how the Jewish people felt. Here they are in the dessert, having just left Egypt. They have a basic sense of where they are going. Everyone assumes they will be travelling via Eretz Plishtim. Suddenly, G-d does something different. Hashem takes them and leads them towards the Yam Suf [Reed Sea]. Then the Egyptians are suddenly in hot pursuit. What thoughts would be going through their minds at such a time?
The natural reaction would certainly have been “Why did He do this to us? Why did He trap us like this between the sea and the dessert and the Egyptian army? If he had taken us by way of the normal route, we would not be in this predicament!” The answer to that question is “Ki Karov hu” – because the Jewish people are different. They have a close and intimate relationship with G-d and He treats them differently.
What was the result of that detour to the Yam Suf? It was a Red Letter day in the history of Klal Yisrael. They were never the same people spiritually or materially after that day because of this detour. “And Israel saw the Great Hand … and they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant.” [Shmos 14:31] They came to a level of belief in G-d and in Moshe at Yam Suf that surpassed the level they had achieved in Egypt. They were a changed people, not to mention the material spoils of Yam Suf. It was a bonanza. All the money and gold of the Egyptians floated to the top and the Jews collected it all.
That which they thought and said to themselves (this is the stupidest thing one can imagine) turned out to be 180 degrees from the truth.
Rav Simcha Zissel concludes: There are two things in life that Chazal compare to the splitting of the Yam Suf – Shidduchim [matrimonial matches] and Parnassah [earning a livelihood]. Sometimes young men or women have to go through terrible trials and tribulations when it comes to shidduchim. So often children suffer in this period of their life and as a result of that their parents suffer as well. They ask: Why is this happening? I am a normal boy or a normal girl. I come from a wonderful family. Why is this so difficult? Why is G-d doing this to me? Everyone must keep in mind “Ki Karov Hu”. Maybe there is a splitting of the Yam Suf that the Almighty wants you to experience. The bonanza may be yet to come.
The same is true regarding Parnassah. It affects all of us, and we know how difficult it can be. Again, we ask ourselves so many times: Why is this happening? I went to school. I got my degree. I am a professional. I had a good job. Why am I having so much trouble now? This should not be happening! Why can’t I make a living? Why did I lose my job?
The answer is: Ki Karov Hu. The Almighty has His ways.
There was a group of religious Jews who worked for a brokerage house in the World Trade Center. On the Friday before September 11, 2001, they received their pink slips and were told to return Monday to collect their belongings and leave. I heard this story from the Rabbi of one of these people. This person returned Monday morning with a security guard on top of him to make sure he would not take anything extra. He packed up his belongings and went home on Monday thinking “Where will I get a job now?” He could not sleep all Monday night worrying about his future and feeling depressed about what just happened to him. He woke up Tuesday morning and at 8:46 AM the world changed. He then thought to himself “I am the luckiest person in the world”. Ki Karov Hu. G-d takes us by the hand. He leads us down a path and we sometimes cannot understand why He is doing this to us. Only later do we understand why “The L-rd did not lead them by way of the Land of the Philistines.”
This write-up was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tape series on the weekly Torah portion. The complete list of halachic topics covered in this series for Parshas B’Shalach are provided below:
Tape # 041 – Israel’s Wars: 1948-1973, A Halachic Perspective
Tape # 084 – The Mitzvah of Krias HaTorah
Tape # 132 – Standing for Krias HaTorah
Tape # 179 – Female Vocalists: The Problem of Kol Isha
Tape # 225 – Music in Halacha
Tape # 269 – Lechem Mishnah
Tape # 315 – The Prohibition of Living in Egypt
Tape # 359 – Making Ice on Shabbos
Tape # 403 – Three Slices of Pizza – Must You Bench?
Tape # 447 – Hidur Mitzvah
Tape # 491 – The Three Seudos of Shabbos
Tape # 535 – Using P’sukim for Nigunim?
Tape # 579 – Being Motzi Others in Lechem Mishnah and Other Brachos
Tape # 623 – Kiddush or Netilas Yadayim – Which Comes First?
Tape # 667 – The Supernatural and the “Mun” dane
Tape # 711 – Shlishi or Sshishi? And Other Aliyah Issues
Tape # 755 – Techum Shabbos: Wearing Your Hat to the Hospital
Tape # 799 – Kibud Av – Can A Father Be Mochel?
Tape # 887 – Rejoicing At The Death of Reshoim – Recommended or Not?
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