The Portion of Beshalach

Exodus 13:17-17:16

This week’s portion, pronounced b’-sha-LAKH, meaning ‘when he let go’, tells of The Children of Israel’s early adventures in the desert, before receiving God’s law at Mount Sinai. Pharaoh once more changes his mind about the Hebrews leaving, and sends his army out after them. God splits the sea, allowing the Israelites safe passage and drowning Pharaoh’s forces. All is not smooth, however, and the Israelites challenge God several times as they encounter strife along the way.

 

 

Topic 1: Fleeing Egypt

Our portion relates that God opted not to take the Israelites into the Land of Israel by the most direct route, as it would take them through Philistine territory and possibly discourage the people, sending them running back to Egypt. Instead, carrying the bones of Joseph, the Children of Israel are led towards the Red… Read More »

 

 

Topic 2: Crossing the Sea and the Waters of Mara

Throughout the night, God keeps His angel and His Pillar of Cloud between the Israelite camp and the Egyptians. Moses holds his staff over the waters, and God sends a great wind to blow over the sea. The waters part, allowing the Israelites to safely cross on dry land. When the Egyptians move to cross… Read More »

 

 

Topic 3: Manna from Heaven

One month after leaving Egypt, the Children of Israel are moved by hunger to again complain against Moses and Aaron. Going so far as to say things had been better in Egypt, they accuse the pair of trying to kill the people. God tells Moses He will rain food down upon them, instructing the people… Read More »

 

 

Topic 4: Water from a Rock

Once again, the Children of Israel thirst for water and complain to Moses. They demand water from him, but he turns them away, telling them they are testing God. Again the Israelites accuse Moses of trying to kill them in the desert.   Moses turns to God for help, and He instructs him to take… Read More »

 

 

Topic 5: Attacked by Amalek

Our portion ends with an account of an attack by Amalek against the Children of Israel. Moses sends Joshua out to lead the people in battle, while he, supported by his brother Aaron and nephew Hur, held his arms up in supplication to God throughout. When is hands were raised, the Israelites rallied, but as… Read More »

 

 

Topic 6: Haftarah - Shirat Devorah and the Kibbutzniks From the Underground Bullet Factory

There is no stronger symbol of Israel’s remarkable sense of communal responsibility than the kibbutz movement. Nevertheless, one of the most important kibbutzim that played a pivotal role in the formation of the state wasn’t even a real kibbutz, but rather a fake one! Under the guise of a kibbutz laundromat that needed to operate… Read More »
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