“Where are the horses?”

Shabbat Kodesh Parshat Beshalach

שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי אֶת־תְּלוּנֹּת֮ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ דַּבֵּ֨ר אֲלֵהֶ֜ם לֵאמֹ֗ר בֵּ֤ין הָֽעַרְבַּ֙יִם֙ תֹּאכְל֣וּ בָשָׂ֔ר וּבַבֹּ֖קֶר תִּשְׂבְּעוּ־לָ֑חֶם וִֽידַעְתֶּ֕ם כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י ה’ אֱלֹקיכֶֽם׃ ׃

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Speak to them and say: By eveningyou shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; and youshall know that I am your G-d.”  (Shemot 16.12)

Did the people who have just experienced the split of the red sea, probably the biggest miracle of all times, still need to have another “small scale” miracle to “know G-d?”  Frankly, if the split of the sea was not enough, nothing will change their attitude. 

The first railway lines were built in Russia at around 1830.  Slowly the lines were replacing traditional horse and carriage mass transport.  It was, of course, the focus of newspapers and “Mikva news” for many months, perhaps a few years. Sometime into that period, the first train arrived in Smolensk. Jews, like everyone else, flocked to the new railway station to see the new train. Amongst them was an elderly, much respected Chasid. The manager of the station took him around to inspect the carriages, before showing him the locomotive, explaining how the steam operates the wheels of the engine, which are then moving the actual train wheels…The Chasid was amazed by all that he has just heard; trying to digest the “high tech” information he has just been given. Beforeleaving, he said. I have just one small question: “Where are the horses which carry the train?”….

Bnei Yisrael lived for more than 200 years in Egypt, a very advanced country in terms of science & technology of that time. But as we know it was a time in which Egyptians (as did most of the world population of the time) believed in polytheism if not in outright idolatry.  To bring about a change in the mentality of the Israelites, away from this paganism into proper monotheism, much more than a “one off” large scale miracle was needed.

They needed to: „see G-d” involved in their daily lives, before being mentally able to commit them to what would become Monotheism, the אמונה בא-ל אחד. 

Warm regards and Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld