Parshat Beshalach

(Numbers 13:17–17:16)

(Haftara: Judges 4:4-5:31)

  1. [13:17] “God did not lead them by the way of the Philistines, even though it was close…” The Sfat Emet says that God didn’t want the Israelites to have an easy time at the beginning, so that later they would be able to deal with difficult situations.   The Israelites had already had a very difficult time as slaves in Egypt. Was this the best educational method to use at the time? What was good about it and what was not good about it?
  2. [14:21] “…God sent a strong east wind the whole night…” God had done so many miracles in Egypt. What was the point of making this miracle seem almost natural?
  3. [14:28] “The water returned and covered…all of Pharoah’s soldier’s…” The midrash tells us that when the Egyptian soldiers were drowning, the angels were singing joyfully. God told them to stop because “my creations are drowning”. In the book of Proverbs, it says “When your enemies fall, do not be joyful (24:17)”. However, it also says, “…when the evil ones lose, there is joy (11:10)”. When there is victory over evil, when is joy allowed and when is joy not allowed?
  4. [15:1] “Then Moshe and the Israelites sang this song to God…” It seems that they sang spontaneously. If we hadn’t been exposed to music from early childhood, would music come naturally to us?  Why is it that music has the power to express our emotions better than words?
  5. [17:16] “…God makes war with Amalek in every generation”. Amalek came especially from far away to make war for no apparent profit. Amalek represents cruelty for no reason. The Rambam tells us that if we know a cruel person, we should suspect that he or she is not really of Jewish descent. Is cruelty the worst human quality? Are there any personal qualities that are worse than cruelty?

Commentary

This is the mystery of the oneness of God. Wherever I take hold of a little bit of it, I take hold of all of it. And since the Torah and all the commandments are radiations of His Being, so whoever does a commandment with sincerity and love, and takes hold of a tiny bit of the oneness of God, has really taken hold of all of it.

–The Ba’al Shem Tov, 1698-1760, Ukraine.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer

 

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