1 - Topic – A Thought Regarding Marah
As we prepare for Shabbos Shira - Parshas Beshalach. The most famous thing that happens in Parshas Beshalach of course is Kriyas Yam Suf and Shiras Hayam but also significant and perhaps second most well-known part of Parshas Beshalach is the fact that Yidden were given Mitzvos at Marah. The first Mitzvos that the Yidden got was at a place called Marah. As it states in 15:25 (שָׁם שָׂם לוֹ חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט, וְשָׁם נִסָּהוּ). That was the original giving of Mitzvos. I mentioned in a previous year that we say Asher Kiddishanu B'mitzvosav V'tzivanu the reference is that Kidishanu B'mitzvosav at Marah HKB"H gave us the first Mitzvos, V'tzivanu and then at Sinai He commanded us Al Netilas Lulav or whatever it might be.
I would like to elaborate a little on the Kiddishanu B'mitzvosav, on the understanding of the significance of the Mitzvos in Marah. What I would like to share with you is from the Hakdama of the Sefer Birchas Mordechai, Inyanim and there in the Hakdama there Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi has a beautiful Bi'ur in this Posuk. The Posuk actually is a very packed Posuk. It would be enough to have a Posuk in the Torah telling us (שָׁם שָׂם לוֹ חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט, וְשָׁם נִסָּהוּ). That Klal Yisrael were given Mitzvos for the first time. In the very Posuk we are told (וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְרוָר עֵץ, וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶל-הַמַּיִם, וַיִּמְתְּקוּ הַמָּיִם). Klal Yisrael had come to Marah and the water there was bitter and not drinkable and they complained bitterly and HKB"H sent a Yeshua. (וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְרוָר עֵץ). Hashem either showed him or the Ramban says in his second Pshat that He taught him. Kavayochel the Ribbono Shel Olam taught Moshe Rabbeinu this is what you do. You take wood and throw it into the water and the water will become sweet.
What type of wood was this? The Ramban says it was a bitter wood. That was a miracle that something bitter was thrown in and it turned the bitter water into something sweet. The Targum Yonason says that the wood that was thrown in had the Sheim Chakuk Aleha, it had the HKB”H’s name on it. So what was it that made it turn was it the bitterness, a miracle that something bitter made it change or was it the Sheim Hashem?
The Posuk says (וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְרוָר עֵץ, וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶל-הַמַּיִם). It was the wood that made the bitter water turn into something sweet. The Birchas Mordechai explains that the Ribbono Shel Olam came to teach Moshe Rabbeinu not a one-time trick so to speak, like the Makkos were a one-time miracle. No, (וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְרוָר). Hashem wanted to teach him to give over and teach Klal Yisrael a Limud. HKB”H is telling Klal Yisrael, in people’s lives there are moments of Morirus, there are times that life is challenging. Where there are bitter thoughts or bitter ideas, unhappy moments, disappointments in life, and that is part of life. HKB”H told Moshe Rabbeinu teach Klal Yisrael when you write G-d’s name on the bitterness, when you connect the bitterness to a recognition of HKB”H, (וַיִּמְתְּקוּ הַמָּיִם), then things turn sweet. Without a recognition of the Yad Hashem, without a recognition that everything that comes our way is something that is a challenge from HKB”H, without that it is very bitter. When challenging things come our way and we have an understanding that we are here to accomplish, we are here to do, when we connect the Sheim Hashem to something bitter, it turns sweet.
Imagine, Moshe Rabbeinu talking to Klal Yisrael. Here it is shortly after Kriyas Yam Suf and they are complaining bitterly that HKB”H gave us bitter water. Moshe Rabbeinu says to Klal Yisrael did you forget, do you have a short memory, did you forget what has taken place over the last six or seven months? Did you forget that HKB”H split the Yam Suf for you to walk through? Did you forget that HKB”H put clouds of protection so that the arrows of the Mitzrim did not reach you? Did you forget that HKB”H provides, that you have what to eat? What are you thinking, why are you complaining so bitterly? 15:24 (וַיִּלֹּנוּ הָעָם). Are you forgetting?
You should understand that when something challenging comes your way you look to Shamayim, you look to heaven, you look for guidance, you Daven. (וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְרוָר). HKB”H told Moshe Rabbeinu go to Klal Yisrael, (וַיּוֹרֵהוּ) and teach them something. Show them that when you have something bitter, you put the Sheim Hashem on it and you throw it into your life and things become sweet. Because if a person Lo Aleinu becomes sick or a person has a financial loss or a person has Tzar Gidol Banim, if these things are just arbitrary things that happen to you, it is very bitter. However, if they are challenges that are put in front of you by the Ribbono Shel Olam to help you be able to make it to where you have to get, that is a different story. Then there is sweetness in the bitterness. Moshe Rabbeinu turned the water sweet.
Says Rav Mizrachi, that he told Klal Yisrael what is sweeter this water or the normal water that you had before you came to Marah? What is sweeter, the everyday water that you drink without much of an appreciation or the water that was bitter through connecting it to HKB”H it became sweet. Remember, in life when the bitter moments come, the fixing of bitter moments brings even a sweeter time to follow. Don’t forget that.
That is the lesson (וַיּוֹרֵהוּ יְרוָר עֵץ, וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶל-הַמַּיִם, וַיִּמְתְּקוּ הַמָּיִם). Moshe Rabbeinu taught Klal Yisrael, through connecting to the Ribbono Shel Olam all the bitterness in life become sweet. (שָׁם שָׂם לוֹ חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט, וְשָׁם נִסָּהוּ). There he said okay you have responsibilities, I will tell you about Shabbos, I will tell you about Kibbud Av V’aim, I will tell you about Dinai Mamon. This is what makes life sweet.
2 - Topic – Another Thought Regarding Marah
Klal Yisrael got Mitzvos at Marah. The Gemara in Horayos (8b top of Amud) says what was the first Mitzvah that Klal Yisrael got? The Gemara says Avodah Zorah. (אָנֹכִי יְרוָר אֱלֹריךָ) and (לֹא-יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים). The Gemara’s Lashon is that they were given 10 Mitzvos at Marah, the Shiva Mitzvos Bnei Noach plus Dinim, Kibbud Av V’aim and Shabbos. The Gemara asks the first Mitzvos were not at Har Sinai, the first Mitzvos were at Marah.
Freigt the Brisker Rav, what the first Mitzvos were at Marah? The first Mitzvos were at Parshas Bo in Mitzrayim when Klal Yisrael were given the Mitzvos that were connected to the Korban Pesach, the Mitzvah of Kiddush Hachodesh. What does the Gemara mean that the first Mitzvos were in Marah?
Rav Hutner in his Mamarim on Pesach brings the Brisker Rav’s Kasha and he answers and it could be that it is the Kavana of the Brisker Rav in his Teretz, that there are Sinai type of Mitzvos and there are other Mitzvos. There are Mitzvos that Klal Yisrael got ahead of time. Then there are Sinai Mitzvos. The first Sinai Mitzvah would seem to be Anochi and Lo Yi’yeh Lecha. The Gemara says no, Marah was a Sinai Mitzvah, because at Sinai HKB”H said Ka’asher Tzivcha, like I commanded you earlier. He referred back to Marah. So that Marah in effect is a Har Sinai Mitzvah. A Har Sinai Mitzvah is a Mitzvah that made Klal Yisrael into an Umah. So when Klal Yisrael got in ahead of time it wasn’t sort of a deposit for the future Chiyuvim and Hashem said we will teach you a few at a time. No! HKB”H told Klal Yisrael at Marah these are the Sinai Mitzvos, these are the Mitzvos that make you into Klal Yisrael. In Mitzrayim HKB”H gave the family of the Klal Yisrael Mitzvos. At Har Sinai Hashem gave this new Umah of Klal Yisrael, they became like Geirim at Har Sinai, and became Klal Yisrael. Marah is the beginning of that.
Asher Kidishanu B'mitzvosav, HKB”H gave us Mitzvos and those Mitzvos that HKB”H gave us are Mitzvos that make us part of Klal Yisrael. It is not just (שכפה הקב"ה עליהם את ההר כגיגית) Kafa Aleihem Har K’gigis, it is not only the forced Mitzvos that is incumbent upon you to accept but it is also the Mitzvos that you got at Marah, the lesson that you got at Marah. That is the first step. If you don’t like it then Kafa Aleihem Har K’gigis. But do it right. Do it with the understanding of the lesson of Marah.
With these two thoughts I want to wish everybody a meaningful Shabbos Shirah. A Shabbos of song to HKB”H. Song for Kriyas Yam Suf, song for the Man and song for Marah for the first Mitzvos we got that turned us into Klal Yisrael. That made us Klal Yisrael. May we be Zoche to be worthy of (שָׁם שָׂם לוֹ חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט) and be Mekabeil the Torah and then we will be Ochlei Haman and we will be Rau’i for Kriyas Yam Suf with Yeshuos and Geulos wherever we go. Wishing everybody an absolutely wonderful Shabbos Shira, a meaningful Tu Bish’vat to come. A Gut Shabbos to all!