Weekly Reading Insights:
Beshalach 5778



Overview of the Weekly Reading An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent
From the Chasidic Rebbes A Mystical Chasidic Discourse from the "Chabad Master" series
Moshiach this Week Kabbalah Teachings from the Sages of Tsfat and Galilee
Shabbat Law of the Week This week's story from Ascent's storyteller, Yerachmiel Tilles


Overview of the Torah Reading

To be read on Shabbat Beshalach, Shabbat Shira, 11 Shvat 5778/Jan. 17

Torah: 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 it contains 6423 letters, in 1681 words, in 116 verses

Beshalach 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.


An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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One of the main parts of the Mishkan (the portable Temple used in the desert) was the holy Ark, The Ark would be carried in front of the Jewish people as they traveled, lead the Jewish people into battle and G-d would speak to Moshe from the two keruvim that were mounted on its top. Inside the Ark by divine command were the two squares of stone upon which Moses wrote the 10 commandments, the pieces of the broken stones Moses threw down when he saw the people worshiping the Golden Calf, Aaron's staff and a container of the manna (bread from heaven). If something was in the Ark, it was proof of primary importance to the spiritual relationship of the Jewish people to G-d. The tablets of the covenant and the broken tablets were to remind us of the divine revelation and G-d's eternal connection to the Jewish people that happened at Mount Sinai. The staff was a sign of the miracles G-d did like the splitting of the Red Sea and always does for the Jewish people. What was so important about the manna that it had to be kept in the holy Ark for all generations as G-d commands in our Torah portion?

The difference between Jews and the other nations, as explained in the 'inner dimension' of the Torah, is that the other nations receive the flow of divine energy without any accountability. They get what they need, and more, without having to follow any commandments, without any spiritual effort. They receive a lot since it does not depend on any limiting factor or sacrifice. This is not the case with the Jewish people. The flow they receive is measured against their effort to serve G-d. This is the meaning of the verse, "If you follow my laws, says G-d, I will give you your rain..."

Nevertheless, the great flow that the other nations receive is only in quantity. As is explained in Tanya (22nd chapter) G-d gives the flow as someone callously throwing something over their shoulder to a person disliked, unwillingly. This is not the case with the Jewish people. Even though it is a measured flow, G-d gives it with great pleasure to the nation that is close to Him: it is given with the bright countenance of the living King.

One of the qualities of the Jewish people is that instead of accepting the plentiful flow they could receive like the other nations, they choose instead to take their life force directly from a divine source, from holiness, even if it is limited. Because only this, the measured flow, comes from G-d's shining countenance.

This particularly Jewish quality, that the Jewish people take the less abundant yet more desired flow of divine energy, is represented by the manna. The manna was not something measured in quantity. You were able to collect only what was needed; any more would disappear. If you collected less than you needed, G-d would provide the difference. Nevertheless, each person's portion of the manna was given by G-d willingly, with a shining face, in a way of endearment. The Jewish people could see in the manna (Rashi 16/7) the honor of the light of His Face.

This is the eternal message of the manna for all generations, True, we do relinquish the abundance of physical blessings that the world offers. But, by passing on this abundance, we gain the dearness of the divine flow that comes from holiness which is the light of the face of the Living King. It is only with this flow that comes from G-d's pleasure, willingly, that will result in true peace and satisfaction.
(from the Rebbe's talks, volume 31 page 90 and onward)

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's Reading, see the archive.


Specifically, for an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary Kabbalists, and more,

click to Beshalach

one sample:

Chasidic Masters
In the Dead of Night

By David Sterne, based primarily on Shem miShmuel.

Shem miShmuel teaches that day and night represent two different aspects of serving G-d. The day stands for a clear understanding of what we have to do. But, there are times in life when we are stumbling to find our way through the darkness.Then we have to proceed on faith alone, knowing that G-d is guarding us from going astray. This kind of spiritual service is called "night."

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