Parashat Beshalach // “Let Them Go”

- ל כ ב -

What does God do when we open our hearts as wide as “the eye of a needle”?

The Israelites cross the Red Sea and the Egyptians drown

“And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them, And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go backby a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.” Exodus 14:21 – 23

  • Human initiative is a prerequisite for divine intervention. This is why God tells Moses to stretch out his arm towards the sea. Each person must take the first step: “The Holy One blessed be He said to Israel: My children, open for Me one opening of repentance like the eye of the needle, and I will open for you openings that wagons and carriages enter through it” (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 5:2). The moment a person opens their heart and takes the first step, a world of boundless opportunities unfolds. By making an effort, the Israelites become part of their own salvation. 
  • “Tell the Israelites to go forward” (Exodus 14:15). God’s message here is that we should not rely solely on miraculous intervention. We must all take the first step fearlessly – meaning there must be inner involvement and awareness from our side, as well. 

The Israelites complain about the hardships of the journey, reminisce about their days in Egypt

“And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness” Exodus 16:3

  • Despite the vast miracles they experience, the Israelites find life in the desert unbearable. They had grown all too accustomed to their status as slaves. After expressing their discontent, God sustains them by making manna rain down from the sky. The desert is a place of uncertainty – a condition that has since characterized Jewish history. We must await God’s grace day to day – while at the same time knowing that life, by its very nature and essence, is unpredictable. We are tested every single day anew. Grace is not a given – nor is it secured. 

Pearls of Divine Wisdom: “Let Them Go”

  • The Israelites’ exodus from Egypt – the greatest of all salvations – is accompanied by suffering. The Israelites are concerned that there won’t be water or food in the desert. They can absorb only a small portion of the light – and they still lack the means to contain it.
  • Love is the main vessel for containing light. However, our ability to love is limited and must be nurtured if we want to receive more light. Love is like a network through which we can connect with the angels. It is a powerful force, as well as an unconditional and positive emotion.
  • The world is made up of the light of wisdom that is found in the skies and the light of kindness that is found in our hearts. Through acts of altruism and love, we can let our hearts fill with the light of wisdom, too.
  • When we take the first step and open our hearts – even only as wide as “the eye of a needle” – we become partners in God’s salvation and our opportunities become endless.
  • We must not rely on miracles. Instead, we must open our hearts and make an effort. We can even attain prophecy – but we must first initiate the process and develop a special self – awareness.

Diligence is the consistent series of choices we make to engage in spiritual work – to act, do, learn, and achieve more.