Weekly D’var: Beshalach – Maya Wolfman, Western Hillel

Parashah Beshalach discusses the Israelites flight out of Egypt, following the wrath of the Ten Plagues. They arrived at the Red Sea, where they noticed the fast approach of Pharaoh’s army. Needless to say, the Israelites panicked, turning to Moses and pleading, questioning why they were led there to die. Moses assured them that G-d will protect them. G-d told Moses to stretch out his staff, and so he did. And the sea parted, exposing the seabed, and offering a clear, dry path of land for the Israelites to travel across. The Israelites began to walk, and the Egyptians quickly followed, but just as the Israelites cleared the sea, the water collapsed, enveloping Pharaoh’s army and drowning them all.

To me, the most pivotal moment in this week’s parashah is that of the splitting of the Red Sea. As the Israelites approach the sea, they are faced with an overwhelming sense of fear and hopelessness as they believe that they cannot escape the fast approach of Pharaoh’s army. At this moment, the Israelites cannot see a way in which this ends favourably— how were they to cross this vast sea and live? It did not seem possible. Yet it was. Moses held out his staff, and G-d split the sea, renewing the Israelites faith.

I feel as though this scene represents much of what we go through in life. I would be lying if I said that life is easy, because as we know, it is anything but. We are constantly faced with challenges, both big and small, that test our faith and strain our ability to remain hopeful. But just as we see in Beshalach, nothing is impossible. No matter how daunting or unbeatable something may seem, we are capable of overcoming the difficulties that we face. Whether it be an illness, a fight with a friend, or a stressful exam, these negative feelings are just temporary bouts of struggle in a life full of joy and fulfillment. If anything, these struggles allow us to experience the feeling of happiness more strongly. There will be many times when the situations we face feel so vast and impossible to overcome, but we must be reminded that this is not the case. Each and every one of us is capable of inciting change in order to make our lives, and the lives of those around us, better. We must realize that there are truly no barriers to what we can accomplish, and with determination and a little bit of faith, our dreams—no matter what they are or how impossible they may seem— can become a reality.

Shabbat Shalom!