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Friday, January 26

The Weekly Shtikle - Beshalach

The shiras hayam has a tendency to grab all the attention in this week's parsha. After all, it is commonly referred to as Shabbas Shirah. However, there is another important theme that is interwoven into the parsha, the importance of Shabbos as a fundamental tenet of our faith. I suppose it would not sound right to call it Shabbas Shabbos. But Shabbos nevertheless plays a pivotal role in the parsha. Indeed, Rashi writes (15:25) that at Marah, B'nei Yisrael were first commanded to keep Shabbos. As the parsha continues, we learn many important aspects of Shabbos. The episode of the manna teaches us the importance and holiness of Shabbos, which HaShem has given us as a day of rest and thus, the manna did not fall. This is, of course, the reasoning behind the two loaves that we must have present at each meal. This episode also functions as a possible source for the prohibition of exiting the city limits on Shabbos. And finally, Moshe's instruction to eat the manna on Shabbos (16:25), and the specific wording thereof, is the source for the Biblical obligation to eat three full meals on Shabbos.


Surely, there is a connection between the confrontation at Marah and the ensuing teaching of the laws of Shabbos. The impatient complaining at Marah indicated a lack of faith in HaShem as the Creator. The waters were bitter and so it was assumed that they could not drink them and declared "What shall we drink?" They approached the situation from a perspective of nature, without the full belief that HaShem could make those very waters drinkable. Thus, the miracle that was done for them was quite illogical. HaShem could have made candy cane fall from the sky but instead, it was a tree - bitter in its own right - which made the water sweet. This miracle demonstrated to B'nei Yisrael that it didn't have to all make sense. With the level of Divine Providence to which they were privy, the laws of nature need not be followed.


Shabbos is the mitzvah through which we assert our faith in HaShem as the Creator. Shabbos is empty and meaningless if we don't fully recognize that HaShem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. We declare this belief in the kiddush which is the "zachor" aspect of Shabbos. The "shamor" aspect demands that we refrain from melachah on Shabbos. Although the challenges of previous generations are much less evident in our time, the prohibitions of Shabbos have traditionally created difficult situations relating to parnasah. In refraining from work on Shabbos and jeopardizing one's livelihood, the keeping of Shabbos can lead to the question "what shall we eat?" At Marah, we were overly concerned that under normal, natural circumstances, we would not have what to drink. By observing the "shamor" of Shabbos we show our trust in HaShem that we will be provided for, despite the difficult circumstances Shabbos might potentially create. Thus, it was here at Marah where it was absolutely necessary to initiate the weekly observance of this holy day. Immediately, B'nei Yisrael are commanded to keep Shabbos and on numerous occasions, are reminded of its paramount importance.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Happy 17th Birthday, Dikdukian!

Dikdukian: Exceptions Ahoy

Dikdukian: Midash, HaShem...

Dikdukian: Leave us Alone

Al Pi Cheshbon: Chamushim

AstroTorah: The Gemara's Aliens? by R' Ari Storch


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