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Dvar for Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16)

After the Jews left Egypt, Paroh and his people had a change of heart, proclaiming “what have we done, that we sent the Jews from serving us?” (14:5). How could they possibly regret releasing the Jewish people, especially after all their suffering from the plagues inflicted on them? Rashi attributes the Egyptians’ change of heart to all the gold and silver that they lent the Jews before they left. Wouldn’t losing slaves be more financially disastrous than a few pieces of jewelry? So why are the Egyptians focused on all the wrong catalysts?

Rabbi Yochanan Zweig suggests that the Torah’s insight into human psychology might explain the Egyptians’ behavior. When a person realizes that they’ve acted foolishly, they will go to great lengths to save their self-respect. Paroh and his people literally drove themselves to death because of their poor self-esteem. Our self-worth and dignity often dictates our actions, whether we realize it or not, and our Parsha highlights the value and need for proper self-awareness and good mental health for us all.