Posted by: mosesfromsinai | January 25, 2010

Bishalach – Extremes

This week’s Parsha is Bishalach.  We find a very strange event – Paroh and the Egyptian army pursuing the Jewish Nation.  Why is it strange?  Simply put, you have just experienced 10 plagues, the 10th being the Death of your First Born child, all brought on because of refusing to let the Jewish Nation go.  Finally, Paroh and the Egyptian people, not only allow them to go, but give the Jews whatever they ask for and rush them out of their country.

Here we are just a couple of days later and Paroh is rushing to put together his own chariot in pursuit of the Jewish Nation along with his Egyptian army.

Thus we have one extreme, chasing the Jewish Nation out of Egypt, followed by an opposite extreme, pursuing after the Jewish Nation to bring them back.  Again the question is why?  Why the Egyptians and Paroh wanted the Jewish Nation to leave is an obvious – da – you just lost your first born kid which concluded 9 previous terrible plagues.  Get rid of the Jews was a given. (We have been kicked out of countries for far less reasons.)  It is the chasing after the Jewish Nation that is the problem.  Yes we have the concept that the Al-mighty hardened Paroh’s heart.  Did the Al-mighty harden the heart of every Egyptian that joined in on the pursuit?   Yes, Paroh offered a very nice bribe, but would you risk going after a nation that you personally witnessed had caused that much devastation – even to get your own possessions back.  (The Egyptians gave to the Jewish people whatever items they requested from the Egyptian homes prior to leaving.)  Is risking death worth retrieving these items along with additional items of value as promised by Paroh?  Well it appears from the Egyptians the answer would be yes.

In our own lives we can sometimes wander from 1 extreme to another even at the risk of life.  Addiction is a good example of going from 1 extreme to another.  It is clear why one should stop an addiction, especially when the result is death.  Yet we see countless numbers pursue their addiction, even at the risk of death.  Perhaps we can simply say that Paroh and the Egyptians were addicted to having the Jews around as slaves for over 200 years and were willing to risk their lives to maintain the same situation.

On the other side, we see that a large group of Jews were willing to go back to Egypt when they are faced with the water blocking their escape route.  Perhaps this is an addiction to being slaves.  Others felt better dead than a slave.

How do we deal with extremes  in a proper mode?  Perhaps by examining the motive and the end result.  In Paroh’s case he was motivated by regaining what he had lost even though the  end result may mean his own demise.  When the end result is a negative then the extreme is to be avoided or aborted.

Bishalach tells you that in its very title.  When you send away, which is an extreme act, it needs to be for a positive reason.  By sending away the Jewish Nation, Paroh and the Egyptians would continue to survive.  Only when they go to the other extreme, Paroh and the Egyptians pursuing the Jewish Nation do they meet their final outcome, death by drowning, their own demise.

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