Kli Yakar Exodus: Beshalach
It’s supposed to be tough
“S’iz shver tzu zain a Yid” a popular Yiddish saying, meaning “It’s tough to be a Jew,” gave little solace to those confronting whatever difficulties their Judaism brought them. Jewish history is filled with accounts of how tough it is, from harrowing stories of death and destruction to the less dramatic existential issues of Jewish practice.
After the Children of Israel leave Egypt and cross the split sea, they walk in the desert for a few days. Thirsting for water, they are thankful when they reach a stream, only to be further disheartened to find the water bitter, undrinkable. Moses is commanded to take a tree (apparently also bitter) and place it in the stream. Miraculously, this combination turned the water sweet.
The Kli Yakar (Exodus 15:26) believes that God wanted to teach the new nation a particular lesson with their bitter (pun intended) experience. He wanted to teach that He is a healer and that the medicine is not always sweet. The medicine is His Torah and it is filled with challenges and strictures that at first may seem tough, bitter. But just as we must trust our doctors when they prescribe something distasteful, so too, we must trust God that at the end of our following His instructions there will be healing, happiness and a sweet reward.
May we trust the heavenly doctor, learn his prescriptions, and may our ‘medicines’ be as sweet as possible.
To the complete and speedy recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Tuscon, Arizona. For those who don’t read the news, she was shot in the head at point blank range in an assassination attempt that claimed the lives of six other people. She miraculously survived the shooting, had emergency surgery and is recuperating, so far, fantastically, but with an unknown prognosis. She is in our prayers.