31. Beshalach III - WALLS

THERE IS A DRAMATIC scene in the Bible which is reminiscent of the dangerous events of our times. You recall how Pharaoh and the choicest soldiers of Egypt pursued the Israelites after the exodus; how the Jews were in panic because the merciless enemy was behind them and the raging waters of the sea were in front of them. And God said to Moses, "Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward." When they did as they were told a miracle occurred and the waters of the sea were divided. "And the waters were a well unto them on their right and on their left." Thus the Jews were saved and the Egyptians were drowned. A few lines later the Bible repeats what had transpired and states once more, "And the waters were a wall unto them on their right and on their left" (Exod. 14: 29).

Why the repetition? Biblical scholars tell us that the Torah does not repeat even one word unless there is a compelling reason for it. What does the exact restatement add to our knowledge that we did not know before? Furthermore, the sages noticed a difference in the spelling of the Hebrew word for wall. The first time it is spelled as it should be. The second time the letter vav is deleted, and that alters the meaning of the word to the Hebrew word for fury. And their explanation is that the repetition of the sentence is s portrayal of what was to face the Jewish people in the years ahead. They would have to face life in the midst of a turbulent sea in which the waters will be walls of hatred and fury, on their right and on their left.

The words right and left are quite significant for us now. The terminology is commonly used in the fields of politics and economics. The left represents the radical and revolutionary elements in society. The right, on the other hand, represents the conservative and reactionary segments.

For many centuries anti-semitism was associated with the right. The walls of fury and hate came to the Jew mainly from the rightist elements. Because Judaism is a progressive religion and envisions an age of universal brotherhood and peace, the rightists who oppose those lofty ideals vented their hatred and malice against us.

But who ever expected that the walls of fury would collapse on the heads of Israel from the left, from the would-be world-saviors, from those who preach fairness and peace? The Soviet and Chinese governments and their satellites are as much in this war against the Jews as are the Arab League Nations. In their venomous propaganda both the right and the left use the word Zionists, but everyone knows that they really mean all Jews.

All clear thinking Jews realize by now that our salvation will not come from either the right or the left, or even from those in the middle. With the notable exception of our own land, the U.S.A., the countries in the middle, such as France and Britain, are not on our side. Our motto must be, as it was through the centuries, "Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward."

Faced as we are with the walls of fury in the midst of a raging sea, there is no other course but to go forward with our wholehearted financial and moral support of Israel, and with fervent prayers to God that He grant the State of Israel victory, security and enduring peace.

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