Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
The Song of the Sea Turns Bitter
Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 10:49:48 PM
Number of views: 171

After the joyous Song of the Sea praising G-D has been sung, the Jewish Nation is in a state of euphoria. Thus, the Jewish People are not prepared for the failures and bitterness that we encounter in the second half of Parashat BeShalach.

"Moshe led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the desert of Shur, and they went 3 days in the desert, and found no water. And they came to Mara and could not drink the water because they were bitter. And the people complained against Moshe, saying, what shall we drink?" (Shemot 15).

The Baal Shem Tov explains, because the people were bitter, therefore, the water tasted bitter.

Israel proclaims their demand for water and after the problem of the shortage of water is solved, they again begin to complain, this time for food. "The Children of Israel said to them, 'Better that we have died by the Hand of G-D in Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots and we ate bread to the full. Why have you brought us into this wilderness, to kill this assembly with hunger?'" (Shemot 16).

From Euphoria to Despair, the Jewish People swing wildly back and forth. Human nature tends to fluctuate between highs and lows. Just think about Yom Hazikoron followed immediately by the joy of Yom Ha’atzmaot.

The People of Israel are purified from the 49 levels of impurity, and of being Egypt's slaves. The Jewish Nation is born in, and then ejected from Egypt, through the Red Sea, into the desert. Now, says the Maral, Israel reacts just like any newborn whose needs, hunger and thirst, must be met. G-D fulfills the function of a loving parent, supplying the newborn with food and providing precise instructions regarding it.

The MANN will be given every day, and they must not save any MANN for the next day. On Shabbat no MANN will be given and one must save some of the MANN from Friday for Shabbat.

Like any parent feeding his child, G-D gives more than food. He also teaches the rules concerning how we must behave in this world. G-D teaches His children the natural order of time. Each day is allotted its daily portion of MANN so that every day is different from the previous one. Thus, one must not save any MANN from one day to the next.

Therefore, the Torah states, "6 days you shall gather the MANN, but on the 7th day is the Shabbat, there shall be none" (Shemot 16). The nature of Shabbat is different from that of the other days in the week. Shabbat is a day on which nothing new must be created and on which the work done during the other days of the weeks must cease. That is why some of the MANN collected on Friday must be saved for Shabbat.

The Jewish People have just left Egypt. We have undergone the total experience of the victory of good over evil, a victory that seems to have no contradictions. Thus, the Song of the Sea ends with "G-D shall reign forever and ever" (Shemot 15).

Through the instructions of collecting the MANN, G-D wishes to teach His children that life is cyclical, that abundance is invariably replaced by scarcity. Not everything in life is ROSY, as seemed apparent only days before at the Red Sea.

Perhaps this is why Parashat BeShalach concludes with the Amalek terror attack. "It came to pass, when Moshe held UP his hands, that Israel prevailed, and when he let DOWN his hands, Amalek prevailed." (Shemot 17). Again we see how life contains UPS AND DOWNS.

Life is like a giant roller coaster ride with UPS AND DOWNS, and HIGHS AND LOWS. But we must focus on and appreciate the UPS and the HIGH POINTS in life.

To help us achieve this goal, we recite the joyous Song of the Sea every day of our lives, including Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the year!

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