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Parashat Beshalah


The very first experience that happened after the miraculous splitting of the sea was their encampment in a place called Marah, where they found the water bitter and undrinkable.

There the Torah tells us,

“They came to Marah, the place of encampment, and could not drink of the waters for they were bitter.”

The great sage, Rabbi Israel, best known as the Baal Shem Tov, has a unique and insightful interpretation of this verse by interpreting the word “they “ as referring to the people, rather than the waters. Thereby teaching that the reason the people found the waters bitter was because they, the people, were bitter and spiteful.

It is a frequent phenomenon to find a person who is depressed or disgruntled to frequently complain that everything they eat is unpleasant; his bitterness is not found in the food but in the taster. This phenomenon is even more common in one’s attitude and interpretation of happenings in life. There are, of course, some unfortunate occurrences in life that are absolutely bitter but there are many times when we judge things to be bitter when they are not so in reality. It is only because of a distorted perception that we consider them bitter.

Such misperceptions may often be corrected by seeking an outside unbiased opinion of a trusted friend, as our sages have said, “How can you know the proper path that a person should follow in life?” Rabbi Joshua said, choose a good friend for he will help you find that path.

Many things in life may be unpleasant and it is unrealistic that our every experience should be the way we want them to be, but our reaction and adjustments to them is up to us and begins within ourselves.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Shaul