Parshat Beshalach: Seeking and Finding
וַֽיְהִי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י יָצְא֥וּ מִן־הָעָ֖ם לִלְקֹ֑ט וְלֹ֖א מָצָֽאוּ׃
Some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found nothing.
Whether we realize it or not, our days are filled with seeking and finding. There are four ways these two elements express themselves:
- Seeking and finding
- Seeking and not finding
- Not seeking and finding
- Not seeking and not finding
In the Torah we see numerous examples of these. To give one example for each of the above:
- Abraham seeking the land God will show him, and finding Canaan.
- The Israelites search for mana on Shabbat and do not find it.
- Moses not at all searching, and finding the burning bush.
- But what about the fourth?
Sometimes when we are not looking, like Moses, we are lucky and stumble upon something wonderful. Many have met their spouses by such a chance encounter, or found an item of value while on a walk, or even discovered something important about themselves without meaning to. These moments are notable because they are rare. For the most part, we do not hear stories of those who do not seek, because they do not find, and there is no story to tell.
The middle two words of the Torah are דָּרֹ֥שׁ דָּרַ֛שׁ, a doubling of the verb “to seek.” Whether we find, or do not find, to live as a Jew is to never be complacent in our seeking. If we stop wondering, stop asking questions, stop searching for meaning and understanding, we not only waste the intellectual faculties bestowed on us by our creator, but reject the essence of our Torah. I’m reminded of one of my favorite “Dear Abby” responses. Someone once wrote her, “Why do Jews always answer a question with a question?” Being Jewish herself, she responded, “How should they answer?”