<i>Beshalach</I>: Braving the Waters

The Gemara in Sotah 36b offers two seemingly contradictory portrayals of the events leading up to the Splitting of the Sea.

Aloh Naaleh,

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Arutz 7
The Gemara in Sotah 36b offers two seemingly contradictory portrayals of the events leading up to the Splitting of the Sea.

Rabbi Meir, a fourth-generation Tanna, portrays the Jewish people in a fairly positive light. In his opinion, the twelve tribes were eager to follow God's will, each fighting for the honor of being the first to jump into the water. In stark contrast, Rabbi Yehuda, a contemporary of Rabbi Meir's, envisions the twelve tribes as paralyzed by fear, each fighting to stay on dry land.

Generations later, Rabbi Yehoshua of Kutne read this Talmudic passage and concluded that, rather than presenting two different portrayals of the Splitting of the Sea, Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda offered one unified vision. The twelve tribes were neither absolute heroes nor complete cowards, but rather average human beings, torn between the desire to assume responsibility and the inability or unwillingness to act upon this desire.

Preferring to occupy the moral high ground between the world of good intentions and that of concrete action, the Jewish people were caught at a standstill; until the bravery of one person, Nachshon ben Aminadav, propelled them to their destiny.

The events of the past two summers in Israel, coupled with scandal after scandal in the upper echelons of the Israeli government, have forced normal Israeli citizens to ask the question: Where are our leaders? Far too many of us, however, are satisfied to live with this question, following in the footsteps of our desert ancestors who preferred to talk about "diving in" rather than actually getting wet.

It is only when we ourselves assume responsibility, rather than merely talking about how things should be, that we can brave the stormy waters and march confidently ahead to the Promised Land.
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Dyonna Ginsburg served for three years as the International Director of Yavneh Olami, a religious Zionist student organization. She currently works in the Jewish Agency's Education Department in the area of resource development.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.



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