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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Parashat B'Shalach 5775

Part I: Bitter and Sweet Instruction
When the people of Israel first get to the desert, they encounter their first in a repeating issue of lacking good water to drink. In particular, this water is too bitter. In response, God shows [or teaches] Moses to throw some sort of branch into the water to make it drinkable. The word used for showing, yoreh [יורה] is the same root that gives us words like “moreh [מורה]” and “Torah [תורה].” It could instead have instead used the word yar'eh [יראה] which comes from the root ראה which relates to seeing. Further, both water and trees are metaphors for Torah. This all seems to point towards God not only teaching Moses how to sweeten water, but also how to properly learn Torah and make it sweet.  

שמות פרשת בשלח פרק טו
Exodus, Chapter 15
(כב) וַיַּסַּע מֹשֶׁה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִיַּם־סוּף וַיֵּצְאוּ אֶל־מִדְבַּר־שׁוּר וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת־יָמִים בַּמִּדְבָּר וְלֹא־מָצְאוּ מָיִם:
(22) Then Moshe led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out to the desert of Shur; then they went three days in the desert and did not find water.
(כג) וַיָּבֹאוּ מָרָתָה וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לִשְׁתֹּת מַיִם מִמָּרָה כִּי מָרִים הֵם עַל־כֵּן קָרָא־שְׁמָהּ מָרָה:
(23) Then they arrived at Marah, but they were not able to drink water from Marah, for they were bitter (marim); for this [reason] its name is called, “Marah.”
(כד) וַיִּלֹּנוּ הָעָם עַל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר מַה־נִּשְׁתֶּה:
(24) Then the nation complained to Moshe saying, “What will we drink?”
(כה) וַיִּצְעַק אֶל־יְקֹוָק וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְקֹוָק עֵץ וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶל־הַמַּיִם וַיִּמְתְּקוּ הַמָּיִם שָׁם שָׂם לוֹ חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט וְשָׁם נִסָּהוּ:
(25) Then they called to Hashem, and Hashem showed [yoreh] him a tree and he cast it to the water and the water sweetened; there He placed for him law and statute and there He tested him.
(כו) וַיֹּאמֶר אִם־שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע לְקוֹל יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו תַּעֲשֶׂה וְהַאֲזַנְתָּ לְמִצְוֹתָיו וְשָׁמַרְתָּ כָּל־חֻקָּיו כָּל־הַמַּחֲלָה אֲשֶׁר־שַׂמְתִּי בְמִצְרַיִם לֹא־אָשִׂים עָלֶיךָ כִּי אֲנִי יְקֹוָק רֹפְאֶךָ: ס
(26) Then He said, “If you surely listen to the voice of Hashem your God, and do what is right in His eyes,  heed His commandments, and listen to His statutes; then all of the illness that I placed on Egypt I will not place on you, for I am Hashem your healer."

רמב"ן שמות פרשת בשלח פרק טו
Nachmanides on Exodus Chapter 16
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, 13th Century Spain
וטעם ויורהו ה' עץ - שהראה אותו עץ ואמר לו השלך את העץ הזה אל המים וימתקו.
And the reason for, “And Hashem showed [yoreh-hu]  him a tree,” is that he showed him a tree and said to him, “Cast this tree into the water and it will sweeten.”
ובעבור שלא מצאתי לשון מורה אלא בענין למוד, ויורני ויאמר לי (משלי ד ד) למדני, וכן כלם, נראה בדרך הפשט כי העץ ההוא ימתיק המים בטבעו, והוא סגולה בו, ולימד אותה למשה.
But since I have not found the language of “moreh” except in the matter of learning, [e.g.] “Then he instructed [yoreh] me and said to me,” (Proverbs 4:4), [meaning] he taught me. And all [uses] are so. It seems that the plain meaning is that that tree would sweeten the water by its nature, and was the value in it,, and He taught it to Moshe.
ורבותינו אמרו (מכילתא ותנחומא כאן) שהיה העץ מר והוא נס בתוך נס, כענין המלח שנתן אלישע במים (מ"ב ב כא). ואם כן אמר "ויורהו" כי לא היה העץ נמצא במקום ההוא, והקב"ה הורהו את מקומו. או שהמציאהו אליו בנס.
And our Rabbis said that the tree was [itself] bitter and it was a miracle within a miracle, like the water that Elisha put in the water (2 Kings 2:21). If so, it said, “He showed him,” because this tree was not found in that place, and the Holy One, blessed be He instructed him about the place [where the tree could be found]. Or he made it available to him by a miracle.
ושוב מצאתי בילמדנו (מדרש תנחומא כאן) ראה מה כתיב שם, ויורהו ה' עץ, ויראהו לא נאמר אלא "ויורהו", הורהו דרכו. כלומר שהורהו ולמדהו דרכו של הקב"ה שהוא ממתיק המר במר:
And I further found in Midrash Tanchuma, “Hashem showed [yoreh-hu] him a tree.” It does not say “He showed him [va’yarehu],” but, “He showed/instructed him [va’yorehu]. He instructed His way. That is to say, He instructed him and taught him the way of the Holy One, blessed be He, who sweetens the bitter with the bitter.

תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא קמא דף פב עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Kamma, 82a
וילכו שלשת ימים במדבר ולא מצאו מים - דורשי רשומות אמרו: אין מים אלא תורה, שנאמר: הוי כל צמא לכו למים, כיון שהלכו שלשת ימים בלא תורה נלאו, עמדו נביאים שביניהם ותיקנו להם שיהו קורין בשבת ומפסיקין באחד בשבת, וקורין בשני ומפסיקין שלישי ורביעי, וקורין בחמישי ומפסיקין ערב שבת, כדי שלא ילינו ג' ימים בלא תורה!
“Then they went three days in the desert and did not find water.” The metaphorical interpreters said, “‘Water’ is only ‘Torah,’ as it says, ‘Behold, all who thirst go to water.’ (Isaiah 55:1) Since they went three days without Torah they were weary. The prophets among them stood up and established that they would read on Shabbat, break on Sunday, read on Monday, break on Tuesday and Wednesday, read on Thursday, and break on Friday so there would not kept three days without Torah.”


Part II: Which Shabbat Did We Violate?
As a glimpse into an issue that comes from our parasha, the Gemara seems to think that the Shabbat in our parasha was violated with terrible consequences. However, in another issue of Shabbat violation in the book of Numbers, Rashi claims that we kept the first Shabbat, but violated the second. At the end I bring one (of many attempts at) reconciliation which I think has implications for how we view what is a Shabbat violation in the first place and how intention matters.

תלמוד בבלי מסכת שבת דף קיח עמוד ב
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 118b
אמר רב יהודה אמר רב: אלמלי שמרו ישראל שבת ראשונה לא שלטה בהן אומה ולשון, שנאמר ויהי ביום השביעי יצאו מן העם ללקט וכתיבב תריה ויבא עמלק.
Said Rav Yehuda, said Rav: “If only Israel had kept the first Shabbat, no nation or language would have ruled over them, as it says, ‘Then it was on the seventh day some from the nation went out to collect,’ and it is written after it, ‘Then Amalek came.’”

שמות פרשת בשלח פרק טז
Exodus Chapter 16
(כה) וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אִכְלֻהוּ הַיּוֹם כִּי־שַׁבָּת הַיּוֹם לַיקֹוָק הַיּוֹם לֹא תִמְצָאֻהוּ בַּשָּׂדֶה:
(25) Then Moshe said, “Eat it today, for today is Shabbat for Hashem; today you will not find it in the field.
(כו) שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תִּלְקְטֻהוּ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לֹא יִהְיֶה־בּוֹ:
(26) “Six days you shall collect it and on the seventh day is Shabbat; it will not be in [the field].”
(כז) וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יָצְאוּ מִן־הָעָם לִלְקֹט וְלֹא מָצָאוּ: ס
(27) Then it was on the seventh day some from the nation went out to collect and did not find.
(כח) וַיֹּאמֶר יְקֹוָק אֶל־מֹשֶׁה עַד־אָנָה מֵאַנְתֶּם לִשְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתַי וְתוֹרֹתָי:
(28) Then Hashem said to Moshe, “Until when will you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?”
(כט) רְאוּ כִּי־יְקֹוָק נָתַן לָכֶם הַשַּׁבָּת עַל־כֵּן הוּא נֹתֵן לָכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי לֶחֶם יוֹמָיִם שְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחְתָּיו אַל־יֵצֵא אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמוֹ בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי:
(29) See that Hashem gave you the Shabbat; therefore He gives you - on the sixth day - two days of bread; each person should sit on his rear; a person should not go out from his place on the seventh day.
(ל) וַיִּשְׁבְּתוּ הָעָם בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִעִי:
(30) Then the nation ceased on the seventh day.

במדבר סיני פרשת שלח פרק טו
Numbers, Chapter 15
(לב) וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּמִּדְבָּר וַיִּמְצְאוּ אִישׁ מְקֹשֵׁשׁ עֵצִים בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת:
(32) Then the children of Israel were in the desert; then they found a man collecting  branches on the Shabbat day.
(לג) וַיַּקְרִיבוּ אֹתוֹ הַמֹּצְאִים אֹתוֹ מְקֹשֵׁשׁ עֵצִים אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל כָּל־הָעֵדָה:
(33) Then they brought him - those who found him collecting branches - to Moshe and to Aharon and to all of the congregation.
(לד) וַיַּנִּיחוּ אֹתוֹ בַּמִּשְׁמָר כִּי לֹא פֹרַשׁ מַה־יֵּעָשֶׂה לוֹ: ס
(34) Then they left him in prison because it was not precisely explained what to do to him.
(לה) וַיֹּאמֶר יְקֹוָק אֶל־מֹשֶׁה מוֹת יוּמַת הָאִישׁ רָגוֹם אֹתוֹ בָאֲבָנִים כָּל־הָעֵדָה מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה:
(35) Then Hashem said to Moshe, “The man shall surely die; the entire congregation shall stone him outside of the camp.”
(לו) וַיֹּצִיאוּ אֹתוֹ כָּל־הָעֵדָה אֶל־מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וַיִּרְגְּמוּ אֹתוֹ בָּאֲבָנִים וַיָּמֹת כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְקֹוָק אֶת־מֹשֶׁה: פ
(36) Then the entire congregation brought him out to outside of the camp and they stoned him - then he died - as Hashem commanded Moshe.

רש"י במדבר פרשת שלח פרק טו
Rashi on Numbers, Chapter 15
ויהיו בני ישראל במדבר וימצאו - בגנותן של ישראל דבר הכתוב, שלא שמרו אלא שבת ראשונה, ובשניה בא זה וחללה:
Then the children of Israel were in the desert; then they found  - The text speaks disparagingly of Israel, for they only kept the first Shabbat, and on the second this one came and desecrated it.

דף על הדף שבת דף קיח עמוד ב
Daf al Ha’Daf, Tractate Shabbat 118b
David Avraham Mandelbaum, 20th Century Israel
במפרשים עמדו בדברי רש"י (במדבר טו, לב) שכתב: בגנותן של ישראל הכתוב מדבר, שלא שמרו אלא שבת ראשונה, ובשני' בא זהו חללה ע"כ. ומבואר לפי"ז דאת השבת הראשונה שמרו. ואילו כאן בגמ' חזינן להדיא שגם את השבת הראשונה לא שמרו.
In the commentaries they stood by the words of Rashi who wrote, “The text speaks disparagingly about Israel, for they only kept the first Shabbat and on the second this one came and violated it.” And it is understood from this explanation that they did keep the first Shabbat. Whereas here in the Gemara we see explicitly that the first Shabbat they did not keep.
ורבינו המהרש"ל בספרו יריעות שלמה (פר' שלח) תירץ, דבשבת הראשונה היה אמנם חילול שבת וכנאמר: יצאו מן העם ללקוט וגו', אך סוף סוף לא מצאו ולא חיללו, אך כעת חיללו ממש, ע"כ.
And our Rabbi the Maharshal, in his book Yeriot Shlomo answered that on the first Shabbat really there was a  violation of shabbat, as it is said, “They went out from among the nation to collect,” but in the end they did not find [manna] and did not violate [Shabbat], but it is as if they actually violated it.
(ויש להעיר, דכיון דמחלל שבת בפרהסי' כעובד ע"ז וכמבואר בחז"ל, ובע"ז הרי מחשבה כמעשה כדאיתא בקדושין (ע' ע"א), א"כ שפיר חייבים כה"ג ג"כ ונחשב חילול שבת גם בשבת הראשונה לפי"ז, וי"ל).
(There is to stir up trouble, that since when one violates Shabbat in public it is like idolatry as is explained by our Rabbis, and for idolatry thought is like action as we see in tractate Kiddushin, if so they are correctly obligated as such, and also on the first Shabbat it is considered a violation of Shabbat.)



Part III: The Friday Meal
The Arukh Hashulchan discusses a seeming contradiction in the Rambam (and possibly the Gemara) where one may either not be allowed to have any fixed meals on Friday, or one might be able to have one all through the day until Shabbat begins. Here he finds an underlying reason behind the prohibition and uses that to reconcile the seeming problem.

ערוך השולחן אורח חיים סימן רמט
Arukh Hashulchan, OC 249
סעיף ד
כתב הרמב"ם בפ"ל דין ד' אסור לקבוע סעודה ומשתה בערב שבת מפני כבוד השבת ומותר לאכול ולשתות עד שתחשך ואף על פי כן מפני כבוד השבת ימנע אדם א"ע מן המנחה ולמעלה מלקבוע סעודה כדי שיכנס לשבת כשהוא מתאוה לאכול עכ"ל
Article 4
The Rambam wrote that it is forbidden to make a fixed meal and feast [with drinking, possibly]  on the eve of Shabbat due to the honor of Shabbat. And it is permissible to eat and drink until it gets dark, but even so, due to the honor of Shabbat a person should restrain herself from the afternoon and on from having an established meal so that she may enter Shabbat desiring to eat.
וביאר המגיד משנה דכוונתו כן הוא דסעודה ומשתה שאינו נוהג בימות החול אסור כל היום כולו אפילו מבוקר וזהו שאמרו בגיטין [ל"ח:] שמשפחה היתה בירושלים שקבעה סעודתא בע"ש ונעקרה
And the Maggid Mishne explains that [the Rambam’s] intention is that meals and feasts which one is not accustomed to making during the week are forbidden all day [on Friday], even from the morning. And this is what they said in [tractate] Gittin, that there was a family who would have fixed meals on Shabbat eve and they were barren.
אבל לאכול ולשתות בלא קביעת סעודה מותר עד הלילה ואפילו קביעת סעודה הרגיל בה בחול מותר ג"כ מן הדין דהכי קיי"ל בריש ערבי פסחים [פסחים צ"ט:]
But to eat and to drink for a non-fixed meal is permitted until night, and even a fixed meal that one regularly makes during the week is also permitted per the strict derivation of the law, for that it how we rule at the beginning of the chapter Arvei P’sachim.
אלא שמכבוד שבת הוא למנוע את עצמו מקביעת סעודה אפילו מה שנהוג בחול מן המנחה ולמעלה והיינו מט' שעות ולמעלה שהוא ג' רבעי היום
But, due to the honor of Shabbat one should restrain herself from the fixing of a meal - even what one is accustomed to [eating] during the week - from the afternoon and beyond. That is, from nine hours [into the day] and beyond, which is three-quarters through the day.
ויש מי שפירש בדבריו דברישא מיירי בסעודה ומשתה דהיינו שתייה דבזה אסור כל היום שישתכרו ישתה הרבה ויתבטל סעודת שבת ובסיפא מיירי בקביעות סעודה בלא משתה
And there is one who explains [the Rambam’s] words [by saying] that in his first statement [when he says all day it is forbidden] he is dealing with a meal or feast which has drinking, for this would be forbidden all day; for one who drinks much would become drunk and ruin his Shabbat meal. But in his second statement [when he says one can make a meal through the whole day], that is dealing with a fixed meal without drinking.

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