Friday, January 10, 2014

Parshat Beshallach - God Says, "Be a Heretic!"

In chapter 14 of Exodus, the Jews are attempting to escape the Egyptians, the Egyptian army is bearing down on them, everyone is in a panic, Moses calls out to God for help and God tells him, "why cry out to me?!"  He tells Moses and Israel to get moving themselves!  Of course then the Red Sea parts, but it seems to happen only after the Jews start to take their salvation at least a little into their own hands.  Consider the following about this striking passage from the writings of Rabbi Israel Salanter:

“Why did Moses cry out?  Did he doubt that God would fulfill his promises and instead fail to save the Jewish people?  Didn’t he trust God?  Rather, when it is at the expense of the Jewish people, one should not live on trust.”

“Every Jew should be a little bit of a heretic – for if someone in need comes to him, the Jew shouldn’t trust that God will help the person.  Instead, the Jew must do whatever can be done to help the person in need.  The rule is, “one should worry about another’s body but one’s own soul, and not vice-versa!”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Benson

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