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Torah scroll.
The Children of Israel have finally escaped the bondage of Egypt. However, shortly after their escape, their Egyptian taskmasters pursue them with the entire might of the Egyptian military. The nascent Jewish nation is trapped with their back to the sea and the Egyptian army, 600 chariots strong, advancing upon them.
Then, miraculously, the sea behind them parts. They walk across the seabed, with a wall of water to their right and to their left, and exit successfully on the other side. Undeterred, the Egyptians follow their freed Hebrew slaves only to discover the sea closing over their heads. The entire armed force of the Egyptian empire is destroyed in one fell swoop.
Incredulous and exultant, Moses and the Jewish people break out in song. Exodus Chapter 15 is famously known as the Song of the Sea. It is so important to the Jewish narrative that the sages instituted the Song as part of the daily morning prayer. Its unusual poetic style is sometimes hard to decipher.
Rabbi Hirsch on verse 2 explains the phrase: “This is my God, to Him would I be a habitation, He was already my father’s God; I would raise Him higher still.”
“He has already proven Himself as the God of my father; even my fathers recognized Him as such and passed this knowledge to me. But I shall endeavor to add still more to the recognition of His greatness and His sovereignty. These words outline the mission of every subsequent generation in Israel: to continue to disseminate the knowledge of God, and allegiance to Him, in ever-growing intensity.”
We cannot rest on the educational, theological and religious laurels of our fathers. We must forge ahead, in every generation, to not only maintain, to not only continue, but to grow, to expand, and to make greater, wider, and stronger the knowledge of and the faithfulness to God.
It’s work that must be done on a daily basis.
Shabbat Shalom,
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Ben-Tzion Spitz is a former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and current candidate for Knesset with the Zehut party. He is the author of ten books on biblical themes and over 700 articles and stories dealing with biblical and rabbinic themes at his blog ben-tzion.com. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.