by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students, Diaspora Yeshiva
Frank Sinatra had a hit song called, "That's Life - Riding High in April Shot Down in May." Was he singing about the Splitting of the Red Sea followed by the Amalek terror attack? After the Song of the Sea praising Hashem has been sung, the Jewish Nation is in a state of euphoria. Thus, the Jewish People are not prepared for the series of failures that we encounter in the second half of Parshat Beshalach.
"Moshe led Israel from the Sea of Reeds (improperly called the Red Sea) and they went out into the desert of Shur, and they went three days in the desert, and found no water. And they came to Mara and could not drink the water because it was bitter. And the people complained against Moshe, saying, what shall we drink?" (Shemot 15).
The Baal Shem Tov explains, because the people were bitter, therefore, the water tasted bitter.
Israel proclaims their demand for water and after the problem of the shortage of water is solved, they again begin to complain, this time for food. "The Children of Israel said to them 'Better that we have died by the Hand of Hashem in Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots and we ate bread to the full. Why have you brought us into this wilderness, to kill this assembly with hunger?" (Shemot 16).
The People of Israel are purified from the 49 levels of impurity, and of being Egypt's slaves. The Jewish Nation is born in, and then ejected from Egypt, through the Sea of Reeds, into the desert. Now, says the Maharal, Israel reacts just like any newborn whose needs hunger and thirst, must be met. Hashem fulfills the function of a parent, supplying the newborn with food and providing precise instructions regarding it. The Manna will be given every day, and they must not save any Manna for the next day. On Shabbat no Manna will be given and one must save some of the Manna from Friday for Shabbat.
Like any parent feeding his child, Hashem gives more than food. He also teaches the rules concerning how we must behave in this world. Hashem teaches His children the natural order of time. Each day is allotted its daily portion of Manna so that every day is different from the previous one. Thus, one must not save any Manna from one day to the next.
Therefore, the Torah states, "Six days you shall gather the Manna, but on held up his hand, that Israel prevailed, and when he let down his hand Amalek prevailed" (Shemot 17).”
To a certain extent, the war against Amalek is a mirror image of the war against Pharaoh. But, whereas the victory over Pharaoh is absolute, the victory over Amalek is not conclusive.
The story of the war against Amalek demonstrates life events as being cyclical. The war against Amalek shows how not every war against evil ends in total victory. How can evil terrorize defenseless Jews only days after the Song of the Sea, and continue to exist even after it appears to have been defeated.
This world is like a roller coaster with ups and downs, and the wild ride will only end when Moshiach comes.