Beshalach IV - EXCERPTS OF TALK TO ORTHODOX TEACHERS
THE BAAL HATURIM in his comments on the portion of this week quotes three phrases in the Bible which contain the Hebrew word horem which means "to lift" (Exod. 14:16).
The first one appears in our sidrah. When the Israelites were pursued by the trained and well-equipped armies of Egypt and the only escape they had was the sea, God said to Moses, "And thou lift up thy staff and stretch forth thy hand over the sea and split it' (Exod. 14: 16).
The second time the word horem is used it is with reference to the prophet Etisha. When an artisan working at sea had lost a precious tool, the prophet performed a miracle and made the tool float. "And he said, lift it up to thee" (2 King 6:7).
When the word horem is mentioned for the third time in the Bible it is directed by God to one of the great teachers of our people. "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet and tell my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1).
We live in moments of grave crises. In whichever direction we turn dangers stare us in the face. Perhaps we can look for a solution to the problems that inundate our lives to this masorah quoted by the Baal Haturim.
As to the severe plight of our brethren in the Soviet Union where organized forces are arraigned against us, the voice comes to us from on high, "Lift up thy staff and stretch forth thy hand on the sea and split it." It is a call and a challenge to do everything in our power to split the sea of hate and to bring our brothers and sisters to a harbor of safety.
In the second instance where tools are needed for the defense of Israel, we must emulate Elisha and make the precious tools float. We must involve ourselves in raising the wherewithal to keep the flow of tools steady and sure so that we will be able to say to the gallant fighters for the Jewish State and its interests, horem "Get thee a lift! Do not be depressed, for we are with you!"
Finally, there is the third part of the masorah in which terchers, educators and rabbis have a special stake and a unique role to play. It is the order that came to Isaiah, "Lift up thy voice like a shofar," to convince the young that there is a God; that there is a Torah and a moral law which teaches what is right and what is wrong, what is decent and what is abominable, what is true and what is false.
Blessed are you, dear friends, men and women in the noble profession of Moses, our Teacher, who have the opportunity and the privilege to influence the up-and-coming generation of our city for good.
As for the solution to all the other problems that beset us, let me tell you a brief story. It is related that two men came to the great Chassidic rabbi by the name of Rabbi Bunem for a blessing. One was a traveling man, and he asked the holy rabbi to pray that the winter should be mild, for he dreaded the ice, snow and frost. The other man who sold heavy boots, gloves and furs pleaded that the rabbi pray that the winter be severe, for otherwise how could he sell his merchandise! Thereupon the rabbi said that he would beseech the Almighty to help both men, but that he would not dare offer God advice how to do it. And he explained that this is the true meaning of one of the verses in our sidrah. When the Israelites were caught between the hosts of Pharaoh and the sea, there were those who cried to God to kill the Egyptians. Others prayed that Pharaoh should experience a change of heart and leave them unharmed. A number of Israelites had other suggestions as to how God should save their people. Whereupon God said to Moses, "Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unoto the children of Israel that they go forward" (Exod. 14:1). By which God meant to say, Stop wasting time on offering me advice on how to help my people. You go ahead and do what is necessary, and I will do the rest.
And so it is with us. Let us do all we can, and horem, a lift to our people in Russia and Israel, and God will surely do the rest.