B’Shalach: Close Call

When Pharaoh pursued the Israelites as they stood trapped at the Sea of Reeds, the verse tells us, “And Pharaoh drew near, and the children of Israel lifted up their eyes… and the children of Israel cried out to the Almighty” (Exodus 14:10). Although the English translation of this verse appears seamless, the Hebrew leaves us with a question. The Torah uses the word “hikriv” to mean “drew near.” In English, this sounds like Pharaoh came near to Israel. However, the word “hikriv” means not to come close, but to bring close. Really, the verse means that “Pharaoh drew [something] near.” So what did Pharaoh draw near, and to what did he draw it near? As the verse continues, “the children of Israel lifted up their eyes… and the children of Israel cried out to the Almighty.” Pharaoh drew Israel near to God. In his pursuit of them, the Israelites had no choice but to cry out to the Almighty, thereby coming closer to Him. This verse teaches us a powerful lesson in how to view adversity. Indeed, all the trials we face in life have been sent to us by God as a means of bringing us close to him. When we feel most in need, those times motivate us to cry out to our Father in Heaven and draw Him close to us, and He draws us close to Him in turn. May we merit to continually come close to our Heavenly Father, and see an end to all adversity.

Based on Shla”h, Parshas B’Shalach

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