The First National Prayer by Ben Notis


The beginning of Parashat BeShalach is filled with instances in which Hashem’s intentions in leading the Jewish people are revealed. For example, Hashem decides not to lead Bnei Yisrael into the land of the Pelishtim because Hashem does not want to create a situation in which the Jews would run back to Egypt (Shemot 13:17). Additionally, the Torah states Yosef’s previous assertion that if Bnei Yisrael bring Yosef’s bones with them, “Pakod Yifkod Elokim Etchem,” “Hashem will surely take you [the Jews] into account” (13:19). Hashem also shows that He has the needs of his nation in mind by traveling as a cloud by day and as a pillar of fire by night “LaLechet Yomam VaLaylah,” “so that they [Bnei Yisrael] could travel day and night” (13:21). Moreover, Hashem talks to Moshe and reveals an overview of His Divine plan “VeIkavedah BiPharoh UVeChol Cheilo,” “and I [Hashem] will become glorified through Paroh and all his army” (14:4).

After finding themselves surrounded on one side by the Egyptian army and on the other by the Yam Suf, Bnei Yisrael, for the first time, are able to call out specifically to Hashem. Because they have experienced Hashgachah Pratit, the Divine Providence, in the beginning of Parashat BeShalach, the Jews realize that their God is not just a personal GPS with a built-in plague-maker, and they exhibit an understanding of Hashem’s intense love for His people. Conversely, in the beginning of Parashat Shemot, before Bnei Yisrael have experienced Hashgachah Pratit, the Torah states, “VaYei’anechu Bnei Yisrael Min HaAvodah VaYizaku VaTaal Shavatam El HaElokim,” “and Bnei Yisrael groaned because of their work and cried out, and their cries ascended to God” (2:23). The wording of this statement implies that the Jews did not cry out to anyone in particular; Bnei Yisrael did not have faith in Hashem because they did not necessarily realize the strength of their relationship with Hashem.

After Bnei Yisrael, unable to escape from the Egyptians at Yam Suf, cry out to Hashem, Hashem performs perhaps the most glorious act of Hashgachah Pratit: the splitting of Yam Suf. This miracle acts as a spectacular ending of Hashem’s plan for Yetziat Mitzrayim. The first national prayer session of the Jewish people, the reason for Keriyat Yam Suf, proves to be a spectacular beginning of Bnei Yisrael’s spiritual relationship with Hashem. Frequent celebrations and unfortunate trying times have proven that the Jews will never cease to pray to Hashem, whether through holidays, fasts, or daily Tefillah.

Hashem’s Miracles by: Eli Reichner

Unconditional love by Rabbi Scott Friedman