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By: SFW Students & Alumna
Shevy Goldman (SFW '09) and Naomi Cohen (SFW '09)
This week’s parsha begins by immediately going back to the story of Bnei Yisrael’s redemption from Egypt. After a long section in Parshat Bo describing the laws regarding the Karban Pesach, Chag Hamatzot, sanctifying the first-borns, and the mitzvah of tefillin, the Torah goes on to describe the route taken by Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt and towards Eretz Yisrael. Rav Hirsch asks why would the Torah, which is so careful not to misuse a single letter, use two pesukim to describe the change of route that Hashem decided to take Bnei Yisrael through? Secondly, in these two pesukim, the name Elokim is used to describe Hashem, whereas previously, during the Ten Plagues, as well as in the pesukim following the route description, Hashem is referred to b’Shem Havaya (yud-kay-vav-kay). Why is the name Elokim specifically used when describing the route?
Firstly, one must understand that the route taken by Bnei Yisrael is not important, but rather, what is necessary to focus on is why Hashem took them this way. Bnei Yisrael were a people that were completely ready to go to war physically. Their belts were fastened and their swords were ready beside them. However, they were not prepared mentally. Hashem knew that if He were to take them through the Land of the Plishtim, Bnei Yisrael would be scared when the Plishtim would come to fight them. This would lead to the Jews returning to Egypt out of fear of the unknown. Bnei Yisrael lacked the courage to fight this nation and were therefore unable to take this route toward Eretz Yisrael.
The name yud-kay-vav-kay, used during the Ten Plagues, describes the wondrous ways of Hashem. Elokim describes the natural way with which Hashem acts in our everyday lives. Interestingly, in gematria the name Elokim is equal to Hateva- the natural. When Hashem redeemed Bnei Yisrael from Egypt, he was removing them from a world where His nissim were very visibly performed, and bringing them to a world of teva, the desert. It is in this world that a person commonly attributes his success to his own abilities. Hashem knew that this nation still did not recognize that every natural occurrence in the world is from Him. Therefore Hashem took them through the midbar to teach them this message. Bnei Yisrael’s travels through the midbar were filled with hashgacha pratit. Because of this Godly presence that was constantly in their midst, even in the most natural of worlds, such as the desert, Bnei Yisrael were able to see that Hashem was not just present during times of need. They recognized Hashem’s Presence every single day, which then transformed their natural daily world into one filled with Hashem’s wonders.
It is important for us to notice the everyday miracles that occur in our lives. Sometimes we might need to change our route and perspective in order to fully appreciate the Yad Hashem, which is constantly present. May we all find the strength to do this, and may Am Yisrael be zocheh to see the outright nissim of Hashem with the coming of Mashiach.
1: Parshat Shavua