- February 3, 2023
- Posted by: DR Jack
- Category: Parsha
Parshas Beshalach contains the famous episode of Amaleik’s attack upon the Jewish nation just after they left Egypt under G-d’s protection. The timing of this incident was no coincidence, states the Midrash, for immediately preceding Amaleik’s attack, the Jews, complaining about the lack of water in the wilderness, asked, “Is G-d in our midst or not?” (Shemos 17:7). This reaction came just after G- d split the Red Sea and led them through it and after G-d began providing them with the manna that sustained them throughout their journey.
To what is this compared? Asks Rabbi Levi in the Midrash (Tanchuma, Yisro 3). To a child who is riding on his father’s shoulders. When the child sees something he wants, he asks his father for it and his father gets it for him. This happens again and again. Then they encounter another person and the child asks this stranger, “Have you seen my father?” The father responds incredulously, “You ride on my shoulders and everything you want I get you, yet you ask, ‘Have you seen my father?’” The father then takes him down from his shoulders and a dog comes and bites the child.
Likewise, the Jewish people displayed unimaginable impudence in asking the very same question, “Is G-d in our midst or not?” How could they doubt G-d’s fidelity when He had just delivered them from slavery in Egypt?
G-d’s response was swift and harsh: “And Amaleik came and warred with Israel at Refidim” (17:8). A previous pasuk already mentioned that they were camped at Refidim, but the Torah repeats their location, says the Sifsei Chachamim, because their behavior at Refidim is what brought about the war. By daring to ask if G-d was with them when it was clear He was leading them, the Jewish people invited attack upon themselves. G-d cast Amaleik upon the Jewish people as a not-so-gentle reminder that a sense of appreciation is basic in any relationship.
Appreciating G-d’s generosity is a theme found in all the Jewish holidays. The Talmud states, “When Adar approaches, joy increases” (Taanis 29a). What is it about the imminence of Adar that increases joy? Adar, notes Rashi, brings with it the miraculous days of Purim and Pesach, two holidays that serve to remind the Jewish people of G-d’s benevolence.
The debt of gratitude Jews owe to the Creator, is noted in the first of the Ten Commandments: “I am the L-rd, your G-d, Who took you out from the land of Egypt” (Shemos 20:2). The Jewish people’s responsibility toward G-d is connected to G-d’s redeeming them from Egypt. Our obligation to accept the yoke of Torah is inherent in our appreciation of the goodness G-d has bestowed upon us throughout history. The more Jews are cognizant of G-d’s goodness, the more we are obligated to serve Him.
But because the Jewish people lacked this elementary recognition and they remained doubtful in the face of all this evidence, G-d let loose Amaleik upon them. The battle awakened within them the realization of how vulnerable they were without G-d’s protection. For this reason we read this section, Parshas Zachor, each year before Purim. By retelling the battle of Amaleik, we regularly remind ourselves to be appreciative.
My dear chassan and kallah, a key component in an everlasting marriage is the appreciation each partner feels for what the other is contributing to the relationship. By responding with this appreciation, each of you will gladly continue to nurture and provide for each other and your marriage. For your relationship to blossom, mutual appreciation is mandatory. May this lesson, among all the lessons of the Torah, be imbued in your hearts and your home.