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Parsha Beshalach: “Stay in the Lead, and Lead the Way”

RABBI DONIEL FRANK | Director, M.A.P. Seminars, Inc., Marriage and Family Therapist

Click here to download PDF transcript

When the Jews get trapped between the Egyptians and the sea, they cry out to Hashem. Rashi says that, by doing that, they were “following the ways of their ancestors,” which implies that they were doing the right thing.

But a few pesukim lpodcast3ater, Hashem asks Moshe, “Why do you cry out to me?” which implies that when he cried out, he was not doing the right thing. Why is that? What was wrong with his crying out for help? Didn’t Rashi already tell us that that’s the way of our ancestors?

To answer this question, the Ramban distinguishes between Moshe and the Jews.

He says that when the Jews cried, it was very appropriate. That’s because they had no idea what Hashem had in store for them, whether they were worthy of being saved or not. So they had to storm the gates of mercy and make themselves worthy of a salvation – just as their ancestors would have done.

But Moshe, on the other hand, had no reason to cry. Hashem had already told him that He would save the people and be glorified through Pharaoh. All he needed from Hashem was to know how to effect that salvation. And for that, he just had to ask for instructions, not cry.

And that’s what Hashem meant when he said “Why do you cry out to me?”

But if that’s the case, then why did Moshe cry out? How did he seemingly forget the promise that Hashem had made?

The truth is that the Torah doesn’t even explicitly say that Moshe cried out. The Ramban assumes that the Torah means to include him among the people when the Torah says that the people cried out.

It seems to me that by doing this – by including Moshe with the people – the Torah gives us the insight into how Moshe lost track of the promise. It’s because he was so overwhelmed by what the people were going through, that he joined them in their experience, and in doing so, momentarily lost his leadership perspective and he became one of them. That’s why he cried, and that’s why he was criticized for crying.

In times of challenge, leaders have to remain on top of the situation, and retain their clarity and vision. During times of panic and confusion, they have the overwhelming responsibility for providing the inspiration and direction their followers so desperately need. And although their deep sense of empathy, together with the people’s profound panic, can put them at risk of losing their place and joining the ranks of those who are in despair, leaders have to constantly draw from their reservoir of resilience, stay to top, and lead the way.


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