The Jews at the Red Sea were divided into four groups - like today

Facing a life threatening challenge, the Jews at the Red Sea had different approaches, just as Jews have today regarding our enemies.

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Professor Gerald Aranoff

Judaism IDF warship patrols in Red Sea
IDF warship patrols in Red Sea
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The Jews at the Red Sea were frightened

Pharaoh and his people hurried the Jews to leave the house of bondage on the night of wha is called Passover in Egypt. The Jews left Egypt on the following day with rejoicing accompanied by large numbers of mixed multitudes. 

Ancient Egypt was immensely prosperous and wealthy. Adam Smith in his 1776 Wealth of Nations cites ancient Egypt’s as effectively ruling the then known world.  Why? To Adam Smith because of the Nile River and easy sea connections. Our Sages say the wealth of ancient Egypt was due to God with Joseph’s 80-year wonderful rule of ancient Egypt. 

In the midrash, differences of opinion among the Jews at the Red Sea are recorded regarding what to with Pharaoh and his army in hot pursuit.  

Mekilta de-Rabbi Ishmael vol.1, English translation by Jacob Z. Lauterbach,, p. 214, comments on the passages: 

“As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites caught sight of the Egyptians advancing upon them. Greatly frightened, the Israelites cried out to the Lord. And they said to Moses, Was it for want of graves in Egypt that you brought us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, saying, Let us be, and we will serve the Egyptians, for it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness? But Moses said to the people, Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which the Lord will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The Lord will battle for you; you hold your peace!” (Exodus 14:10-14).

“The Israelites were divided into four groups. 

[1] One group said: Let us throw ourselves into the sea. 

[2] One said: Let us return to Egypt.

[3] One said Let us fight them; and

[4] one said: Let us cry out against them.

The [1] one that said Let us throw ourselves into the sea was told “Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which the Lord will work for you today.”

The [2] one that said Let us return to Egypt was told “for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.”

The [3] one that said Let us fight them was told “The Lord will battle for you”

The [4] one that said Let us cry out against them was told “you hold your peace!”

Tsvi Fishman’s books

I’m reading and enjoying Tsvi Fishman’s most fascinating and enjoyable books.  Let me quote from Arise and Shine, Jerusalem 2018 chapter “Jabotinsky Forms the Haganah” p. 105:

“I was a young man of twenty-three in Odessa when Christian mobs attacked the Jews of Kishnev, murdering forty-seven Jewish men, women, and children, while musical bands played happy tunes in the city gardens, and the town bishop blessed the rioters from the steps of the church, and the policemen of the Czar looked on contently, as if they were attending a sports event.  Many Jewish men ran away in fear when the pogrom erupted because they never learned how to fight. That terrible tragedy made me aware of a simple but revolutionary truth – our Jewish youth must learn, not only Torah of what is permitted and what is outlawed, but they must learn the Torah of war as well.”   

Yes we must fight and pray for God’s triumph. The Jews at the Red Sea believed in Moses and in the Lord.

Do we have a prophet today to lead us?

Do we have a prophet today to lead us? Then, at the raging Red Sea in our Exodus from Egypt: “Thus the Lord delivered Israel that day from the Egyptians. Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the shore of the sea. And when Israel saw the wondrous power which the Lord had wielded against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord; they had faith in the Lord and His servant Moses.” (14:30-31)

Jews are divided today into different opinions about what to do with our enemies who threaten to kill us. Seems we have the similar four groups today.

[1] Commit suicide by agreeing to our enemies' demands.  Was this not Oslo and Gush Katif?

[2] Abandon Israel. Should we go to America?

[3] Fight our enemies. Yes this is what Netanyahu is doing. Bennett was now in the US meeting with the US Secretary of Defense.

[4] Pray to God and do nothing else. Is this not the Satmar position?

I say bravo to Trump, a modern King Cyrus the Great and bravo to Netanyahu a modern Maccabee   I’m convinced by Tsvi Fishman’s writings which support group [3]. 

And we wait today for the full redemption. We pray speedily for the day: “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, And the lion shall eat straw like the ox, And the serpent’s food shall be earth. In all My sacred mount Nothing evil or vile shall be done —said the Lord”  (Isaiah 65:25).”



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