Weekly Reading Insights: Beshalach 5764




Overview of the Weekly Reading: Beshalach/Shira and Tu b'Shvat

To be read on 15 Shvat 5764 (Feb.7 )

Beshalach is the 4th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 16th overall, and 17th out of 54 in overall length.
13:17-17:16; Haftorah: Judges 4:4-5:31 (Song of Devorah // Song by the Sea)
Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

B'shalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16)) opens with the Jews taking Yosef's remains with them upon leaving Egypt. G-d split the Red Sea for the Jews to pass through, but the waters fell on the Egyptians drowning them. Moshe and the Jews sang a song of praise to G-d for this miracle. Also, Miriam and the women sang and played music. In the desert, the Jews reached a place where the waters were too bitter to drink. G-d showed Moshe a tree which sweetened the water. The Jews complained that they didn't have meat to eat. G-d gave the Jews quail and manna to eat. The manna could not last overnight and on Shabbat it did not fall; instead Friday's portion for each Jew was double. An urn was filled with manna which would last for all generations. Again, the Jews complained about lack of water. G-d told Moshe to hit a certain rock with his staff, and it would bring forth water. The Amalekite nation attacked the Jews. Yehoshua fought them, and as long as Moshe's arms were raised, the Jews victory was assured. With G-d's help, the Jews are required to obliterate Amalek.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:16-64/Beshalach )

And we learn from this that the spiritual leader of the people is in fact the equivalent of the entire nation. If he is worthy, then all the people are [deemed] worthy.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:16-64/Beshalach )

Death is not seen as a cessation of existence, but rather as a descent from one spiritual level to a lower one. It is enough, the soul complains, that I had to live a full life in this grave of the body; why must I suffer further?

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:16-64/Beshalach )

There are still other mystical aspects to this issue regarding prayer, for there exists a problem of all the forces that interpose themselves between us and Heaven, trying to prevent our prayers from reaching there.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"Pharaoh drew closer (hikriv)...and the Children of Israel cried out." (14:10)
The Hebrew word hikriv is a transitive verb, implying that Pharaoh caused others to draw near rather than himself. The Midrash relates that this is because when Pharaoh pursued the fleeing Jews, it caused them to become closer to G-d. In fact, the entire exile in Egypt and the splitting of the Red Sea was only in preparation for the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai - the ultimate expression of closeness and attachment.
(Sefer HaMaamarim Shin-Tav)

"The waters were a wall unto them." (14:22)
When a Jew observes Torah and mitzvot faithfully to the extent that he is willing to jump into the sea, not only does the "sea" disperse, but it is transformed into a protective wall that safeguards him.
(Likutei Sichot)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:16-64/Beshalach)

Monday of this week was the 10th of the month of Shvat. On this day, there were two inter-related events. The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok, passed away, and a year later his son in law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, took over the leadership of the Lubavitch community. In connection with the splitting of the Red Sea in this week's Torah portion, the verse says, "And the Jewish people saw the great hand of G-d that He used with Egypt, and they saw G-d, and they believed in G-d and in Moshe His servant"(14/31). We see here how the Torah connects belief in Moshe with belief in G-d.

The Magid of Mezrich, the protege of and successor to the Ba'al Shem Tov ('Besht'), told the following story to his inner circle of Chassidim. The Besht once sat with his students at the third Shabbat meal, and as often happens, the time passed until it was well past the end of Shabbat. The Besht made havdalah (ceremony which signifies the end of Shabbat), but before anyone could move, a widowed woman entered the room crying and shouting that she needed help marrying off her engaged daughter. She had promised a dowry that was beyond her means and asked the Besht and his followers to help make up the amount that was lacking. The Besht turned to his followers and instructed each of them to put his hand into his coat pocket and give the woman the money they found. The money was passed forward, placed on the table and counted. Miraculously, the sum was equal exactly to the amount requested. She left happy because she had what she needed, and the Chassidim were happy that they could participate in this great mitzvah.

When he finished the story, the Magid asked his students if they could tell him what was the lesson of the story. One student answered that it was the miracle that since Shabbat had just finished and no one could have any money with him, the Besht made money appear in their pockets. This is as the Talmud says, "When a tzaddik commands, G-d fulfills." The Magid answered 'No, the answer was obvious to all'.
Another student suggested that the Besht could have done this great mitzvah by himself, but even so, he decided to share it with his students. The Magid answered again, 'No. The message is simple.' A third student suggested that the miracle lay in them finding the exact amount of money for the mitzvah. For the third time, the Magid said this was not the point.

The Magid then explained that what we learn from the story is the great faith the Besht's students had in him. When the Besht told them to reach into their pockets for coins, not one of us even thought 'How could we have any money? We are all still in our Shabbat clothes!' Rather, we all immediately did what he told us. And that was how the miracle happened! (Tzohar LaTaivah). If you have a tzaddik, believe in him. If you do not have one, find one!

The Rebbe wrote on the verse "And the water (of the Red Sea) was a wall for them" (14/22), that when a Jewish person acts with faith in G-d and His Torah (and his tzaddikim), and is willing to walk straight into the sea, not only does the sea open up for him, even more, the sea itself acts to protect him.
Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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