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D’var Torah: Beshalach

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What is the recipe for a miracle?

Parashat Beshalach tells us about the parting of the waters of the Red Sea – surely one of the greatest miracles that has ever taken place. Details are given of the entry of the Israelites into the water. The Torah tells us that they entered: ‘B’toch hayam bayabasha’ – ‘in the midst of the sea, on dry land.’ ‘Vehamayim lahem choma mi’minam umismolam’ – ‘and the water became a wall for them to their right and to their left.’

However, only seven verses later, The same details are mentioned but now the order is switched around. Here the Torah tells us that they entered, ‘bayabasha b’toch hayam’ – ‘on dry land, in the midst of the sea.’ Previously it was ‘in the midst of the sea, on dry land.’

There is also a further difference.

When we’re told: ‘Vehamayim lahem choma’ – ‘the water became a wall for them’, in the word ‘choma’, the letter ‘vav’ is missing. Therefore it reads ’chema’ which means, anger.

What sense can we make of this?

The Kli Yakar gives a beautiful peirush. He says that the Torah is actually describing two separate entries into the sea. The first was of course, by Nachshon. He and his followers said, “Hashem is promising us a miracle. We can’t just wait. We need to be his partners. So Nachshon walked into the deep waters and when they reached up to his nostrils, at the moment when he was just about to drown – having been ’b’toch hayam’ – ’in the midst of the sea’ – he found himself on dry land, thanks to the miracle of Hashem. Those waters became a ‘choma’ – walls of protection for him and those with him.

They were followed by others. The doubters. Those who didn’t want to risk their lives. They therefore walked ‘on dry land, in the midst of the sea’ – because the miracle had already taken place. And these waters were ‘chema’. It was as if the waters were looking at them with anger. Saying, “Where were you? Why were you doubting Hashem? You should have been like Nachshon and those with him.”

I believe that here we have the recipe for a miracle. There are two ingredients. They are Hishtadlut and Bitachon.

Hishtadlut is our own effort to utilise every single ounce of ability, talent and bravery that we have, in order to contribute towards a partnership with Bitachon – our trust in Hashem. He will do the rest. That’s what enabled this miracle to happen.

Within our own lives, of course, we would love miracles to happen all the time. But Chazal tell us, “ein somchin al haness”. You can’t just rely on miracles. Bitachon, trust in Hashem, is not enough. We need to show Hishtadlut. To try our best in order to achieve our greatest goals and aspirations because after all, Hashem helps those who help themselves.