The key to success

Parasha in the daily life - Parashat Beshalach - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald-5780

Two battles are mentioned in our Parasha: The first battle with the Egyptians by the Red Sea was conducted in a miraculous way, in which Israel was told:

ה' יִלָּחֵ֣ם לָכֶ֑ם וְאַתֶּ֖ם תַּחֲרִישֽׁוּן׃

Hashem will battle for you; you hold your peace!” (Shmot 14:14)

The key to success was exclusively a Divine act, though it required Nachshon Ben Aminadav to jump into the water. The second battle, mentioned at the end of the Parasha, with Amalek, took place the natural way. It was said there:

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֤ה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ בְּחַר־לָ֣נוּ אֲנָשִׁ֔ים וְצֵ֖א הִלָּחֵ֣ם בַּעֲמָלֵ֑ק

"Moshe said to Yehoshua, “Pick some men for us, and go out and do battle with Amalek". (Shmot 17:9)

רצה משה רבינו להראות לישראל כח השגחת ה׳ עליהם גם בלי נס נגלה ע״כ סידר מלחמה זו בדרך הטבע.

"Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to show Israel the power of the Divine Providence over them, even without an exposed miracle, so he arranged this war to be "the natural way" (Haamek Davar, ibid).

Here, the key to success was a combination of man and G-d's work. To combine it, Moshe stood on the top of the hill and held his hands out in prayer:

וְהָיָ֗ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָרִ֥ים מֹשֶׁ֛ה יָד֖וֹ וְגָבַ֣ר יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְכַאֲשֶׁ֥ר יָנִ֛יחַ יָד֖וֹ וְגָבַ֥ר עֲמָלֵֽק׃

"Then, whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; but whenever he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed". (Shmot 17:11)

"But in this place where there was a need to have a natural war, Moshe did the same as Am Israel would do for generations, and even while confident that they would overcome the war, there is a need to pray" (Harchev Davar ibid. 11a). Ultimately, human actions depend on the power given by G-d.

The manner of conducting the Amalek war was intended to teach for generations how to be prepared for war. It is precisely from a place of faith that one should know that לא סמכינן אניסא "One does not (should not) rely on miracles" (Pesachim 64b), שכל הסומך על הנס אין עושין לו נס

"a miracle is not performed for anyone who relies on a miracle" (Sifra, Emor 8).

Every effort must be made, by nature, to succeed in battle; To exert military power, to act with human ingenuity and wisdom, and to increase motivation and fighting spirit:

ס֗וּס מ֭וּכָן לְי֣וֹם מִלְחָמָ֑ה וְ֝לַֽה' הַתְּשׁוּעָֽה׃

"The horse is readied for the day of battle, but victory comes from Hashem".  (Proverbs 21:31)

-In this verse Solomon warns everybody to do whatever is in his power by using natural means to achieve his success (in a military encounter when such is unavoidable). Beyond that he must leave things to G-d. A miracle occurs only when all the natural means have been exhausted and have proven to be inadequate to produce the desired result. Man was created in such a way that he can cope with most problems by using natural means. If one plans to secure victory over an adversary in a confrontation one must strive to equip oneself with the amount of weapons and the quality of weapons needed to give one an advantage. In other words, in the days of Solomon one needed horses and chariots. If one left everything to heaven one will find that heaven does not intervene on one’s behalf…  Only after one has taken all the measures known which he is are capable of, does one ask heaven to do its part… Setting ambushes, sending undercover agents, etc., are all legitimate ways for preparing an invasion and maximizing the chances of success. Once all these steps had been taken G-d would add whatever measure of supernatural assistance was needed to ensure success. The Torah does not make the performance of miracles the cornerstone of its dealings with mankind or the Jewish people. Miracles are exceptions, not norms… (Rabbeinu Bahya Bamidbar 13:2)

This principle is true in all walks of life. The key to success of the man of faith is the right combination between the acts of men and G-ds. To succeed you must work in all practical ways. Believing in Hashem's ability to perform miracles for man, not by natural means, does not allow one "to rely in miracles" and to act as if assured that G-d will assist in his success even without the actions required on his part. On the other hand, even if he does his best, there is still no guarantee that he will succeed. There are components that influence the success that are beyond one's control. He also needs the help of Heaven סִיַּיעְתָּא דִשְׁמַיָּא, and he must pray to Hashem to help him.

In connection with this, the practice of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook Z'L was to mention to us the words of Rabbi Nissim Gerondi: It is a Mitzva to say:

כֹּחִי֙ וְעֹ֣צֶם יָדִ֔י עָ֥שָׂה לִ֖י אֶת־הַחַ֥יִל הַזֶּֽה׃

 “My own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me.” (Devarim 8:17)

And according to that it will be true on the part of what the rich can say 'my own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me'. With all this, as that power is rooted in you, remember Who gave you that power and where it came from. As it is written,

וְזָֽכַרְתָּ֙ אֶת־ה' אֱלֹקיךָ כִּ֣י ה֗וּא הַנֹּתֵ֥ן לְךָ֛ כֹּ֖חַ לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת חָ֑יִל...

"Remember that it is Hashem your G-d who gives you the power to get wealth… (Devarim 8:18)

He did not say, "Remember that it is Hashem your G-d who gives you wealth..." As your power makes this wealth, remember Who gave that to you". (Birkat Asher on Torah Devarim 8:17)

Modern society is an ambitious and competitive society that strives for progress and success. In many parts of it, the key to success seems to be only in the man's hands: "My own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me" - ignoring also the Divine involvement in the world, and also those success elements that are not in any man's control. The incorporation of the man of faith into the public and economic sphere, some of which ignores the Divine grip on the key to success, may erode this basic consciousness. And so, he must put on his heart all the time: "Remember that it is Hashem your G-d who gives you the power to get wealth…".

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