Torah Reflections; Lessons in the weekly Torah portion and topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition

Torah Reflections from Torah Readers

Divrai Torah, weekly Torah portion summaries, lessons and essays on topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition.

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Parashat Beshalach

For the week of Fri 3rd Feb 2023 - י״ב בִּשְׁבָט תשפ״ג
Parashat Beshalach

Change takes time… Human nature

If God can do miracles that change nature, such as crossing the reed sea, turning water to blood, etc. Then why could he not change human nature and replace fear in the hearts of the Israelites with courage? What is special about the nature of mankind that even God doesn’t dare change?

Did you know that...

When the Red sea split, the process is essentially different from the miracles that have occurred thus far. When the plagues come they are clearly miraculous occurrences, but they are local miracles, events that transpire in the external world. By contrast, when the sea becomes a place where people are able to walk on dry land, the feeling is completely different. Suddenly nature changes, the whole system is transformed, and everything we know about reality is no longer valid. The Sea is no longer a sea; the water is no longer water. The rules of physics no longer apply.

Our sages say that ”maidservants beheld at the sea what even Isaiah and Ezekiel never saw”, this is because the maidservants saw firsthand how all of physical nature is not actually fixed, but can suddenly change from one extreme to another. The whole conception that the world is a place with strict laws and a set order collapses. The splitting is the sea demonstrated to the Israelites that everything we see in this world is a mere theatrical performance. The people understood that the world is no longer governed by rigid laws; everything has become possible.

Parasha Summary

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FInally the children of Israel have left Egypt however Pharaoh is in hot pursuit of them and has them trapped in front of the red sea. This Torah portion is one of the most event packed portions.

The Torah portion of, contains the following main events and stories:

  • The Israelites leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea: God parts the waters to allow the Israelites to pass through safely, while the pursuing Egyptian army is drowned.

  • The Song of Moses: The Israelites sing a song of thanks and praise to God after their successful crossing of the Red Sea.

  • The Israelites receiving manna and quail in the desert: God provides the Israelites with sustenance in the form of manna and quail, which they collect daily.

  • The battle against the Amalekites: The Amalekites attack the Israelites, but through Moses' leadership and God's intervention, the Israelites are victorious.

  • The arrival of the Israelites at the wilderness of Sin: The Israelites arrive at the wilderness of Sin and set up camp.

  • The provision of water from the rock: God commands Moses to strike a rock, from which water flows to provide the Israelites with drinking water.

  • The laws of Sabbath and Sabbath Year: God teaches the Israelites about the importance of the Sabbath and the Sabbath year.

  • The instructions of the Passover: God gives instructions to the Israelites on how to observe the Passover.

It is a continuation of the story of the Israelites liberation from the slavery in Egypt and their journey to the promised land.

Second Opinion

Opinions, Essays, Cultural Observances

Sing, Sing, Sing...

Why did Miriam sing? Is it for the same reason we sing? What is a song? Isn’t it a prayer? the endeavor to rise above all worries and the petty cares of life and reach out to one’s source? Song is the quest for redemption. As a Singer-Songwriter myself, many times I am inspired to write a song when I need help the most, when I have to reach higher, and connect to spiritual realms.

The Last Word

Social Religous, Cultural and Political Commentary

Footprints in the rock

The Israelites experienced so many positive events in this week's portion. So why did they also complain so much - what was missing in their lives that caused them to complain so much? How does this apply to our own lives?
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