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Friday, January 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Beshalach

    As the Egyptians realized they were doomed when their chariots began to collapse in the middle of Yam Suf, they proclaimed (14:25) "Let us flee from the Israelites for HaShem is fighting for them in Egypt!" At least, this is the simple literal understanding of what they said. But the last phrase is very puzzling. They were not in Egypt. HaShem wasn't fighting their battle in Egypt. Rashi starts by interpreting the word "beMitzrayim" as really meaning "baMitzriyim," not in Egypt but with the Egyptians. That solves the problem rather simply.
 
    He then brings another, less direct approach from the Mechilta. Just as those who in the sea were being smitten, so too those who remained in Egypt were being simultaneously smitten.
 
    However, Targum Onkelos offers a novel interpretation of this pasuk. He writes that the Egyptians were declaring that this was the same Strong Hand of God that fought B'nei Yisroel's battles in Egypt. A polytheistic belief system, such as that to which the Egyptians subscribed, is forced to give boundaries to their deities by some sort of criteria such as location, time or specific strength. As much as the Egyptians recognized HaShem's Hand in the meting out of the ten plagues, they still did not appreciate our monotheistic beliefs. It would seem from this pasuk that they believed that HaShem's powers were somehow confined to Egypt. They chased B'nei Yisroel with the belief that His Mighty Hand would not reach them outside of those boundaries. When they witnessed the miraculous collapse of their chariots, they finally began to realize their error. They recognized that the God who brought their nation to its knees on its home turf knows no boundaries and was now bringing them to their ultimate demise.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Exceptions Ahoy
Dikdukian: Mikdash, HaShem ...
Dikdukian: Leave us Alone
Al Pi Cheshbon: Chamushim

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