Weekly Reading Insights: Beshalach 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Beshalach

To be read on 13Shvat 5766 (Feb.11)

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

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

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:1566/Bo)

Rebbe Shimon said: How happy is the lot of Israel that a shepherd such as Moses walked among them. It is written, "Then He remembered the days of old, of Moses His people." (Isaiah 63:11) "He remembered the days of old..." refers to the Holy One blessed be He [who recalled the Exodus]. "...Moses his people" [shows that] Moses was of equal weight as all Israel.

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. If he is not worthy, then the entire people are [judged as] unworthy and are punished because of him, as we have explained.

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:1666/Beshalach)

Regarding the hand, [Rabbi Yosi the Galilean] said, "With how many [plagues] were [the Egyptians] struck by [G-d's] finger? Ten plagues! [Thus, you must conclude that in Egypt they were struck by ten plagues]" (Passover Haggadah, quoting Mechilta on Ex. 14:31, Midrash Tehillim 78:15, Shemot Rabba 23:9) - this is because the finger forms one yud, representing ten plagues - "and at the sea they were struck with 50 plagues" - corresponding to the first hei [of the name Havayah].

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

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From Rebbeinu Bachya (O:1666/Beshalach)

Moses was compelled to lower his hands from time to time as it is not admissible to interfere with opposing spiritual forces to such an extent that one neutralizes them altogether. G-d has not created forces in the universe in order for them to be totally ineffective. This is what the prophet Isaiah also had in mind when he said of G-d creating the earth: "He did not create it a waste, but formed it for habitation." (Isaiah 45:18) This statement includes all the phenomena G-d has created, not just those that we appreciate or are fond of.

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


"And the water was like a wall" [14:24]
This is to teach you that when one stays faithful to G-d and His Torah and for His sake is willing to go even into the sea, not only is the sea nullified as an obstacle, it even turns into a protective wall.
from Likutei Sichot [translated from Sichat HaShavuah no.164]

"Remain every man in his place, let no man go out of his place" [16:29]
'Remain every man in his place'-means that one has to see oneself smaller than he is. And if even so he feels self important, at least 'let no man go out of his place'-he should know his place; he should not see himself greater than he really is.
from Rabbi Yisrael of Rozhin [translated from Sichat HaShavuah no.164]


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:1666/Beshalach)

"Moses then sang…" (Ex. 15:1)

After the splitting of the Reed Sea, Moses led the singing of a song of praise and gratitude to G-d. But in describing that event, the Torah doesn't say, "Moses sang," (shar) but, literally, "Moses will sing" (yashir).
From here we can see reference in the Torah to the resurrection of the dead (techiyas hameisim) which will take place in the time of redemption. At that time, "Moses will sing," once again praises to G-d.
Furthermore, R. Eliezer says, anyone who recites the Song of Moses now, before the redemption, will merit to recite it in the future, in the Messianic Age.

[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:1666/Beshalach)

During the exodus when the Jewish people left Egypt, they headed towards the Red Sea. The verse says (14/10), "Behold, Egypt is following them." The Baal Shem Tov said that this is like a person who moves to a different location to escape his problems. How laughable. How is moving going to solve anything! The only authentic solution is to pray to G-d to help us overcome our difficulties. And, in fact, the verse continues, "the Children of Yisroel called out to G-d." When the Jewish people saw the Egyptians still chasing them, they understood that leaving Egypt was not in itself enough. Only through prayer would the salvation come. How true in our own lives.

Yes, prayer is good, but is it enough? At the end of the portion, the nation of Amalek battled against the Jewish people. What did Moshe do? He appointed Yehoshua as the army's commander and sent him to fight. Simultaneously, Moshe went to the mountain top to pray for the Jewish people's success, lifting his hands to heaven. The Torah tells us that Moshe's hands were so heavy he needed assistance to keep them raised. While we could think that this happened because of his age, Rashi tells us that there was a different reason. Moshe hands became heavy due to a spiritual issue. Instead of going out to fight himself, he had sent Yehoshua. Why didn't Moshe lead the army against Amalek? Forty years later (when he was 120) Moshe led the war against Sichon and Og before the Jewish people entered the Holy Land! Why didn't Moshe lead the army against Amalek?

We can understand Moshe's decision by examining the different spiritual states of the Jewish people when they left Egypt and before they entered Israel. The war with Amalek was a direct result of the low level of the people. The complaints of the nation, (17/7) 'Is G-d within us or not?' caused G-d to 'hide His face'. This gave Amalek the opening to attack. In this situation, Moshe decided to go according the natural order by choosing Yehoshua to lead the army. Yehoshua selected the best soldiers of fighting age, while Moshe elicited G-d's assistance through other means, the power of prayer. On the other hand, with Sichon and Og, G-d promised to make the Jewish people victorious. This miraculous war even a man of 120 could lead, because we only had to rely on G-d.

Though this logic makes sense, G-d still indicated to Moshe through the weakening of his arms that he had not acted appropriately. When enemies attack us, rather than the leader making logical assumptions, he should be out there fighting at the head. Moshe's powerful prayers were needed too, but they should have been short. Nothing to distract him from leading the battle. Our lesson here is clear. When a Jew is threatened, either by a physical Amalek from the outside, or even a spiritual Amalek from within-whose purpose is to cool us off from our spiritual fire and to fill us with doubts (Dvorim 27/17)-there is no room for deliberations. It is not the time for Psalms or even finding ourselves a substitute or representative. The only way to save the situation is for each of us to get out there and do the job required of us. (From Likutei Sichot 21)

This is being written on the 10th of Shvat, both the day that the Rebbe Rayatz passed on, and the same day, a year later that the Rebbe took on the leadership of Lubavitch. At one of the Chassidic gatherings that I attended, a chossid stood up and said that if we think that the Rebbe gave us the strength to conquer the 'big city', meaning the communities that we live in, that surround us, successfully bringing them closer to G-d and the Torah, but did not give us the ability to conquer the 'small city', meaning to overcome our own inner battles, we are mistaken.

Shabbat Shalom , Shaul

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

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