micro-drash on Beshallach (maybe on Yitro)

Hi all.

I was struck by the phrase "derech eretz p'lishtim" in the beginning
of parshat Beshallach. The term "derech eretz" connotes decent
behavior, good personality traits, and suchlike. Given that the next
parsha (Yitro) deals with the giving of the Torah, I couldn't help but
be reminded of the quotation "derech eretz kadmah l'Torah", i.e.,
proper behavior precedes the Torah.

Perhaps the language used at the beginning of Beshallach helps to
re-emphasize this point. Moreover, since Hashem didn't take b'nei
Yisrael via the shortcut, He gave us the opportunity to work on our
character defects. This opportunity took place during the time span
that would eventually become the 49-day Omer period, during which time
many people have the practice of trying to improve various aspects of
their behavior that are delineated via the sefirot.

Not surprisingly, His plan worked. In Shmot 19:2, the use of the
singular "vayichan" to describe b'nei Yisrael's encampment (rather
than the plural) shows the high level of unity they had reached (as
per Rashi), which allowed us to receive the Torah.

Shabbat shalom.

Art Werschulz (agw STRUDEL comcast.net)
207 Stoughton Ave Cranford NJ 07016
(908) 272-1146