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January 25, 1991 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I TORAH PORTION

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If Man Will Propose
Then God Will Dispose

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HUNTERS SQUARE • FARMINGTON HILLS

e often read that
modern man has no
faith. This is not
true. He has too much faith —
too much faith in prayer and
what it can accomplish.
In this week's sedra, we
read of the first crisis that
confronted the Israelites after
the Exodus from Egypt: the
thrilling and unforgettable
episode of the crossing of the
Red Sea. On reaching the
banks of the Red Sea, the
Israelites see behind them, in
full pursuit, the hosts of the
Egyptian army. On the one
hand the treacherous waters
of the sea — on the other,
their former masters. What is
there to do? Where are they to
turn? How are they to react to
this crisis?
Moses is terrified, lifts his
hands in prayer and asks for
divine assistance. The answer
comes back to him from God,
"Why do you cry unto me?
Speak to the children of Israel
that they move forward."
This is the mistake of
humanity. Man turns to God
and prays for a miracle. God
however, turns to man and
says: You do not pray for a
miracle; you work for a
miracle. It is for you to in-
itiate, not to finish perhaps,
but for you to begin the pro-
cess. And do you know what
happened? The Midrash
teaches that the Jews began
to move forward into the
water until the waters reach-
ed their nostrils — and the
miracle occurred and the sea
split for them. Not simply
because they prayed, but
because they moved forward
with God; not simply because
they hoped, but because they
acted did God bring about
their salvation. Man must
first toil and work and then
God will send His blessing.
Our sages teach, "Tzaddik
gozer, ve-ha-kodosh barukh hu
mekayem — a man must pro-
pose and God will dispose."
What a meaningful and
relevant lesson for this week
of Tu B'Shevat, the holiday of
the trees, which focuses our
attention on the reclamation
and renaissance of our na-
tional homeland. For Israel
came into being in this
generation when Jews stop-
ped dreaming of Eretz Israel
as a beautiful paradise into
which Messiah was going to
lead us miraculously and

Morton Yolkut is rabbi of

Congregation B'nai David.

without any effort on our
part. Such a paradise never
existed — not perhaps did it
deserve to exist. The real
paradise that is Eretz Israel
today was drained from the
swamps, reclaimed by plan-
ting trees and forests, defend-
ed against invading armies
and terrorists and sanctified
by dedication and devotion,
teaching and toiling.
Yes, it was the pious prayers
of the earlier generations that
kept the hope of a redeemed
Israel alive so that it could be
realized in our times. But
passivity simply was not a
sufficient answer. Dr. Chaim
Weizmann, the first president
of the State of Israel, once
wrote: "A state is not given to
a people on a silver platter."
Indeed not! Our national
rebirth came to a people only

Beshalach:
Shabbat Shira
Exodus 13:17-17:16,
Judges 4:4-5:31.

when it was inspired with a
courageous readiness to
create a viable Jewish state.
The great Chasidic master,
Moshe Leib of Sasov, was once
asked: If all creations had
their purpose, and all at-
titudes their reason for being,
how could he explain the need
for atheism? The rebbe
answered, "For everything
else we do in life we know we
have to work, but where God
is concerned we think all we
have to do is pray. No, here we
must be atheists; here we
must be non-believers; Gott
vet nisht helfen; Gott vet nor
zu-helfen — God will not help
you; He only will assist you."
Indeed, we often speak of
our dependence upon God and
sanctimoniously proclaim,
"Gott vet helfen — God will
help." We seem to forget that
God also depends on us. And
this is the important lesson
taught to Moses in this
week's portion.
"Why do you cry unto me?
Speak to the children of Israel
that they move forward." On-
ly after our ancestors moved
forward into the raging sea
were the waters divided and
they crossed in safety. Yes,
God will help! But it is only
after we work with resolve
and determination that His
miracle is realized.



Israel was admitted as a
member of the United
Nations on May 11, 1949, a
year after statehood was
achieved.

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