Parshas Beshalach follows the Bnei Yisrael on their first journeys leaving Mitzrayim and generations of slavery. Between the splitting of the Yam Suf, the miracle of the Manna, and finding water in the desert, the first few days after their exodus were not uneventful. Throughout their travails through the desert, the leadership of Moshe was on display as a steady hand guiding the young nation on their journey towards spiritual fulfillment.
This idea is on display again at the end of the parsha with the battle against Amalek. This would be just the first of many encounters with Amalek over the course of history. This nation, descended from Esav, hated everything the Bnei Yisrael stood and continue to stand for: purity, both spiritual and physical, and righteousness. It became and continues to be our responsibility to eradicate Amalek and all those who follow his path, from the world; until this point, we remain unsuccessful.
But at that time, it was just the first and only battle in the desert between these two nations, with Amalek trying to stop the Bnei Yisrael in their tracks. While Yehoshua, Moshe’s pupil, led the army into battle, Moshe took charge of the spiritual aspect. He climbed up to the top of a mountain overlooking the battle and raised his hands towards the heavens in prayer. This inspired the nation to pray, and their spiritual fervor quickly changed the tide of the battle. After a time, Moshe’s arms tired. So his brother, Aharon, and his nephew, Chur, held his hands aloft so the Bnei Yisrael would continue to be motivated to daven. Eventually, thanks to Moshe’s leadership, they were successful in battle.
When describing the assistance of Aharon and Chur, the Torah uses an interesting phrase. “וַיְהִ֥י יָדָ֛יו אֱמוּנָ֖ה עַד־בֹּ֥א הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ” “(As a result of their assistance) He (Moshe) was with his hands in faith until the setting of the sun” (Shemos 17:12). The Kli Yakar focuses on the usage of the “setting of the sun”; while the simple explanation is that the battle lasted the entire day, he uses it in a more poetic way. The setting of the sun refers to the end of Moshe’s life.
Until the end of his life, Moshe was dedicated to protecting Bnei Yisrael in any way he could. In Sefer Bamidbar, the Bnei Yisrael battled the Midianite nation before entering Eretz Yisrael (Chapter 31). Hashem told Moshe at the time that upon the conclusion of the battle, he should prepare for his death. Chazal teach us that even with this knowledge, Moshe did not hesitate to go out and lead the Bnei Yisrael through the conflict. He didn’t think of his own situation for a second, the continued success of Bnei Yisrael was foremost on his mind.
This idea is hinted at here by the first battle of the nation of Yisrael. The Torah tells us Moshe dedicated himself to the success of the army until the sun went down. Not just here, but by every conflict and every time of need, Moshe would dedicate himself to the good of the people. Until his sun set, he would be there whenever and however he was needed.
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