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This week is

Chol Hamoed Pesach
Shevii Shel Pesach - Candelighting 4/25/08 - 7:28PM (DST New York City)

The Chase to the Sea of Reeds - Yam Suf
Rabbi Chaim Lobel - Young Israel of Aberdeen

(Exodus; Chapter 13, Verse 17) "And behold, Pharaoh sent the nation." Egypt was devastated by the ten plagues and Pharaoh expelled the Jewish nation as G-d had foretold. Yet, only three days later, the Egyptians proclaimed "What is this that we have done that we have sent away Israel from serving us?" (Exodus; Chapter 14, Verse 5)

Pharoah and his army pursued the Israelites to the Sea of Reeds where G-d utterly destroyed them. [There are those of the opinion that Pharaoh did not drown, saved by G-d at the Sea of Reeds (Pirkei D'Rebbe Eliezer 48)]

The Medrash Rabba (20:1), in reference to Pharaoh, quotes the verse in Proverbs (26:3), "and a rod for the fool's back." The Medrash explains that, shortly after expelling the Jews, Pharaoh declared, "Behold, my nation was stricken (with ten plagues) and my son was killed.  Why did I send them out?"

The Rashash, a commentary on the Medrash, explains - Pharaoh recognized that he was wrong to prevent Israel from leaving during the ten plagues but now he looked like a fool; in retrospect, he had destroyed his own empire for no reason. Was this to be his legacy? Will he always be remembered as the king who watched his kingdom brought to ruins because he was too stubborn to free a bunch of slaves?

Pharaoh could not let it be. The king who lost an empire because he defied the G-d of Israel, now chased the Jews across the desert. He witnessed the Pillar of Flame and the Clouds of Glory. He saw the Splitting of the Sea of Reeds and still pursued the Jews between walls of water.

As Proverbs says, "and a rod for the fool's back."  Pharaoh lost everything. He knew the risks. He understood the dangers. But a man's legacy is worth more than imaginable.

***

Rabbi Chaim Lobel is the Rabbi of Young Israel of Aberdeen, Congregation Bet Tefilah, Aberdeen, NJ. http://www.yiaberdeen.com/index.html


 
   
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