Kenneth Cohen

Four Kinds of Jews

The Talmud Yerushalmi describes the scene when it looked like the Jewish people had nowhere to go. They saw the Egyptians approaching from behind, and the sea was in front of them.

The people were divided into four groups at that time. One group had given up and suggested a collective suicide, by jumping into the sea. Another group thought of surrender and going back to Egypt. The third group wanted to make war, and fight the Egyptians. And the fourth, simply suggested screaming, as it might frighten their enemy.

From the text of the Torah, we see how Moshe Rabbeinu responded to each group. He said, “Stand as you are and see G-d’s salvation,” to the group that wanted suicide.

He continued, “You will never see Egypt again,” as a response to those who wanted to return there.

He then said, “Hashem will fight for you, and you shall stay silent.” This was his response to those who wished to fight, and make a lot of noise.

Some say these four groups still exist today. There are Jews who choose suicide by distancing themselves from Judaism via assimilation. Others want to go back to the behavior of the Galut, by denying the miracle of a Jewish army, and Jewish State. There are those who live by fighting and tearing down progress. They lack Jewish pride and fear what the Gentile will say. And there are certainly a number of Jews that make noise, and never achieve anything. They want to give the impression of achievements, but it’s only noise.

To all of these groups, we remind them to turn to Hashem for salvation. And they must never forget that Hashem is with us and helps us fight our battles.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at