Here are the notes that I hope to turn into a conversation after I read Torah tonight. Thanks to Frume Sarah for the inspiration… oh and thanks to Rashi, too.
Ah the bitter waters…
Well, this is the first of the three complaint/rebuke cycle. Ex. 15:24 (no water), Ex. 16:2 (no meat), and Ex. 17:1 (no water). Often we view these as tests of Moses’ skill as a leader. But it is also possible to see them as tests to see if the Israelites would treat Moses with respect.
An interesting thing to note. In the Mechilta, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korcha teaches that the placing of wood into the water in order to sweeten it acts as an example of self-realization. By adding bitter wood to the bitter water, the water realizes how bad it is to be bitter and becomes sweet of its own accord.
Rashi says that this is when Adonai delivered the law of Shabbat.
We see that certain laws were taught prior to Sinai. The question is, which laws were chosen to be taught at this juncture, and why?
As we have already seen, the Talmud included in this pre-Sinai category social laws, Shabbat, and honoring one’s parents. In his comments, Rashi says:
In Marah they were given a few of the sections of the Torah, so that they be involved in them: “Shabbat, Red Heifer and Laws.” (Rashi on Exodus 15:25)
Also a time of reflection. Can the break that we take on Shabbat lead to self reflection