The portion of Beshalach begins with a negative introductory word — “vayehi” — and then implies that it was Pharaoh who released the Israelites from slavery.
But surely it was God who presided over the redemption, not Pharaoh? Moreover, why was God concerned that the recently freed nation would recoil from battling the Philistines and would return to Egypt? And why was the Exodus split up into two distinct events — the departure from Egypt, and the splitting of the Red Sea a week later — why didn’t God just get it over and done with in one shot?
Rabbi Dunner looks at the Or Hachaim and Netivot Shalom commentaries, offering some remarkable insights into the details underpinning the formative moments of Jewish nationhood.