Weekly Reading Insights: Beshalach 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Beshalach

Shabbat Shira

To be read on 12 Shvat 5765 (Jan.22)

Exodus Exodus 13:17-17:16; Haftorah: Judges 4:4-5:31 (Song of Devorah / Song by the Sea)

Beshalach is the 4th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 16th overall, and 17th out of 54 in overall length.

Beshalach (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:16-65/Beshalch)

The verse is talks of the plague that "will strike" [in the future] all those who "fought" [in the past] against Jerusalem.

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

* * * * *

From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:16-65/Beshalch)

Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, was the earthly manifestation of the "guardian angel" of Egypt, the spiritual distillation of the evil(s) embodied in Egypt.

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

* * * * *

From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:16-65/Beshalch)

Moses had to induce the Jewish people to leave Egypt by promising to bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey.

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


"Go out and fight with Amalek." (Ex. 17:9)
Why were the Jews told to do nothing before the splitting of the Red Sea, whereas they were encouraged to actively wage battle against Amalek? In general, in most areas of life, a Jew must have simple faith that G-d will provide him with all his needs, independent of human effort and intervention. However, when it comes to the struggle for Judaism (Amalek is symbolic of everything that is antithetical to holiness), passive faith is not enough, and practical action is required
(Pardes Yosef)

Moses said to Joshua, choose for us men...and Moses and Aaron and Chur went up to the top of the hill." (17:9)
Why was it necessary to assemble an entire team consisting of Moses,Joshua, Aaron and Chur to fight Amalek? The Jewish people had not been behaving properly, and this is why they were attacked by Amalek. Indeed, the very name of the location where the attack occurred-- Refidim--is related to the Hebrew word pirud, meaning disunity. At that time, the Jews were fighting amongst themselves and also rebelling against G-d. The first letters of the names Aaron, Chur, Joshua and Moses form the word achim--brothers. Moses' call to the Jewish people was that if they would act as brothers and live in harmony, united in the study of Torah and observance of mitzvot, Amalek would never be able to penetrate the Jewish camp.

Chassidic sources


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:16-65/Beshalch)

"This is my G-d and I shall glorify Him, my father's G-d and I shall exalt Him." (Ex. 15:2)
The Midrash states that at the splitting of the Red Sea, every Jew pointed with his finger and said, "This," for there was such a prophetic manifestation of G-dliness at that time that they were able to actually point to it. The Midrash also notes that the children born under Egyptian servitude were the first to perceive and recognize the Divine manifestation.
"As in the days of your going out from Egypt, I will show wondrous things," we read in Michah. The Divine revelation of the Messianic Redemption will be even greater than the one in Egypt! Furthermore, just as at the time of the Egyptian exodus it was the children born in exile who recognized G-d first, so it will also be with Moshiach: the children born in the harshness of this bitter exile will be the first to recognize the Divine manifestation.
(Likutei Sichot II)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:16-65/Beshalch)

The going out of Mitzrayim (Egypt), the splitting of the Red Sea and the receiving of the Torah that are described in last week's, this week's and next week's Torah portions are more than just historical events.

On another level, they are a detailed paradigm for the future redemption, (may it come quickly), i.e., of how to leave the present exile and our own personal Mitzrayims.

Also, the parsha alludes to the revealing of the hidden wisdom, by the splitting of the water and the walking on dry land; and to the final revelation of Mashiach, through the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

On yet another level, we relive these events each year though the holidays of Pesach and Shavuos. Even more subtly, they are also a formula for how we deal with our day to day lives.

Rabbi Hillel of Paritch is an almost mythical character in the Chabad tradition. He was Chassid to the three Lubavitcher Rebbes. An anecdote told about him tells that he would never sweep his simple home from the far wall to the door but always would begin with the door and move inwards, because it was inappropriate to push garbage towards the innate holiness of an entrance.(This custom is based on the teachings of the Zohar.)

Nevertheless, he was not a "head in the clouds" person at all. He was a genius and a gifted community leader. Many ideas in Chassidic philosophy are explained by him in his books or by stories told about or by him.

Rabbi Hillel tells us of an experience he had with the third Chabad Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, who explained the inner significance of the splitting of the Red Sea. He said as follows: Everyone is responsible for "splitting his own Red Sea". Each person is enveloped by a "sea" of thoughts. We must recognize that some of our thoughts are for G-d's sake, while some are not. We must split, i.e. push aside the thoughts that are not directed towards G-dliness. By doing so, we allow ourselves to walk on dry land. This means that we allow ourselves to move more effectively towards our goal, rather that floating out of our control.

This Thursday is the 10th of Shvat, the hillulah (yortzeit) of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, father in law and predecessor to the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

He carried the above thought further in the following teaching: Just as the Jewish people, for the sake of their future as a nation, had to experience the leaving of Mitzrayim and the splitting of the Red Sea, so also, each individual, in planning their future has to go through similar experiences.

On a specific level, when a person starts defining his life and planning his future, basing his decisions according to his own needs, strengths and qualities, he is in a sense confining himself in his own personal Egyptian exile.

Often we find that this focus on the future allows a person time for important career moves, but not for studying Torah and tefila/prayer with a quorum. He does not make room for these acts in his head, because his future in the physical world takes prominence. This is an error.

Whatever we do, it is imperative that fixed times for Torah Study and prayer be included in our schedule, with the true intention to connect with G-d, not just "getting it over with".

After leaving Mitzrayim, we come to the splitting of the Red Sea. In a similar way, in relation to our spiritual lives, as soon as a person goes out of their personal Mitzrayim and succeeds to organize time to study and pray, we find all kinds of difficult obstacles facing us, just as the Jewish people had their enemies behind them and the sea in front of them, and they themselves in the desert.

Just like the sea only split for them because of self sacrifice (Nachshon Ben Aminadov jumped into the raging sea in order to continue forward, and because of his self sacrifice the sea split before the Jewish people), so also, if a person pushes his own limits, demands from himself an extra amount of self discipline and self sacrifice, he will find that G-d Himself, will reveal the dry land beneath the raging waters.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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For all our insights for this parsha:

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