Why Even Deep Love Can Be Painful
3 minutes to read
Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Beshalach - Exodus13:17-17:16
Johnny Cash’s music speaks to me like the Beatles do to most other baby boomers. Maybe because when I was growing up my father was pretty tough on me. Men of my dad’s generation didn’t explain their child-rearing goals with their sons. But one day I heard A Boy Named Sue. Cash put into words what my dad wanted me to be. Tough. Now I could see how much my father loved me. Of course, this was before I understood Parshas Beshalach:
“And Moses said to the people, do not fear, stand and see the salvation of G-d that He will do for you today.” (Shemos/Exodus 14:13)
In this Sabbath’s parsha the Children of Israel leave Egypt. But once again Pharaoh changes his mind. He decides to chase them. At the last moment, G-d splits the Reed Sea (the usual translation of the Red Sea is incorrect). The Israelites walk between two walls of water on dry land. The Almighty drowns the Egyptians pursuing them. The Israelites sing the Song of the Sea thanking G-d for their deliverance.
On their journey to the Land of Israel, the Children of Israel complain of hunger and thirst. G-d sustains them with Manna from heaven and water from a rock.
G-d’s Love Doesn’t Always Feel Kind
The Israelites panicked when they got trapped between the Reed Sea and the Egyptian army. They complained that Moses brought them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness. Yet just days before, they witnessed the miraculous Exodus. How could they have lost faith so quickly?
After centuries of being slaves, it’s not surprising the Israelites were unprepared to defend themselves against their former masters. Though they vastly outnumbered them, from their youth they bore the yoke of Egypt’s oppression. Such feelings of inferiority prevented them from fighting.
G-d had freed them from physical slavery. Now each individual had to let go of the slavery mindset. The Almighty could have reset their emotions and spirit. But then the Israelites would not have learned how to grow on their own. Like any loving parent, the Almighty wanted to prepare His children to overcome the challenges of life.
G-d performed a miracle by splitting the sea. But only when Nachshon showed he was tough enough to move forward into the water up to his nose. Throughout their wandering in the wilderness, the Almighty brought physical miracles. But the Israelites had to show strengthened mindsets to benefit from them.
Get Tough Enough to Never Give Up
After making the same mistake for the umpteenth time, I find myself despairing. Defeats weighs on my spirit. So in a small way, I can appreciate how the Children of Israel must have felt. The part of me committed to giving up starts to get the upper hand.
Then I remember my dad. And I refuse to give in to my weakness. My father raised me to be tough. I find another way to overcome my challenge and reach my goal. Call it the umpteenth time plus one.
Pursuing a goal without positive results is discouraging. It’s worse when you don’t control the situation. Why doesn't G-d let you succeed? You focus on all the things that can go wrong. When the urge to quit hits you, it’s common to feel alone. Fear and weakness convince you to face all life's problems by yourself. That way they can enslave you with feelings of inferiority or excessive guilt.
Your task then is to view the elevated aspects of your character. Focus on your strengths. Internalize knowledge of your assets. Make them part of your purpose. Take time every morning to review them. From a powerful stance, in a strong voice, read your list of strong points. Embed the image of your unconquerable self into your being.
Then you’ll have unshakable resolve to triumph over your weak points and circumstances. You will succeed because you see yourself as a good, capable, resilient person.
You don’t need a name you detest to become tough. G-d loves you so much He’ll compel you to strengthen your resilience. And when you confront your problems with a stout heart, you might experience a miracle.
Question – How can you focus on your strengths but avoid becoming or being perceived as conceited?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!