Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” — Exodus 14:13–14
The Torah portion for this week is Beshalach, which means “when he sent them away,” from Exodus 13:17–17:16, and the Haftorah is from Judges 4:4–5:31.
Have you ever had a problem so big that there was no way you could solve it?
When faced with such monumental challenges, psychologists predict people will react in one of two ways. It’s called the “fight or flight response.” We are wired to respond to adversity by either running away from it or fighting directly against it.
But what happens when neither choice is a viable option? What about those hardships that are impossible to run away from, yet seem unconquerable, too? We can’t flee and we can’t fight. So what are we to do?
In this week’s Torah reading, this is exactly the situation in which the children of Israel found themselves. They were stuck between the Egyptians and the Red Sea. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Fighting wasn’t an option, as the Israelites were no match for the mighty Egyptian army. They were out of time and out of options. In despair, the Israelites resolved to die, saying: “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:12).
What follows is a powerful verse that has given strength to many people in their own times of hopelessness. It is a guiding light when we can neither flee nor fight. Moses told the people: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you . . . The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
There is a third option when we come up against seemingly insurmountable challenges in our lives: God. When there is nowhere to go and nothing to do, we turn toward God. He will fight our battles and deliver us from harm.
We find this idea again in 2 Chronicles where it says, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you. . .” (20:17). When we feel powerless, it’s time to witness God’s awesome powers. There are only three things we need to do: Stop fighting, position ourselves in prayer, and watch the victory unfold before our very eyes.
There is a time to take action and a time to try our best. But there are also times when we need to do nothing but step aside and watch as God fights the battle for us.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President