Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
One of the most famous verses in the Torah appears in this week’s Parasha. When they see the Red Sea split, the children of Israel sing these words: “This is my G-d and I will enshrine Him; the G-d of my father, and I will exalt Him.” (Exodus 15:2)
The Kotzker Rebbe found an important educational principle in this verse. The Rebbe insisted that although we rely on the wisdom and faith of our ancestors and pass along our traditions from one generation to the next, we cannot forget that we must also build our own faith in a personal and genuine way. Therefore it is written “This is my G-d and I must enshrine Him.” A human being needs to be able to say “This is my G-d” in order to develop his own personal identity even though, of course, it is built on the identity and faith of his ancestors – “the G-d of my father, and I will exalt Him.”
The heritage I received from my ancestors has unquestionable value but G-d also belongs to me, not only to my father. It is important, of course, to continue with our ancestors’ traditions, but we need to pay attention to something that is our own, the work we had to do and the unique path each of us took to embrace our ancient faith.
The above is dedicated to the speedy recovery of the 14 soldiers who were rammed and wounded by a vehicle in a terrorist attack last night in Jerusalem.