SEDRA - RABBI ARNOLD SAUNDERS

Beshalach

THE central theme of the sedra is the Shira — Song of Moses. Because of this, Shabbat is known as “Shabbat Shira”.

The parsha begins with the Children of Israel having just left Egypt. However, Pharaoh believes they are having a “soft Brexodus” — and are only going a short distance to briefly “take control of their laws and sacrifices” and then return.

However, it was, in fact, a “hard Brexodus” — with no deal at all with the Egyptians AND with a “ divorce bill” that meant the Egyptians actually paid the departing Israelites gold, silver and clothing!

They are pursued by Pharaoh’s cavalry and seem to be “snookered” when they find themselves caught “between the pursuing forces and the Red Sea”.

Actually, strictly speaking, the precise translation of the Hebrew “Yam Suf” is “Reed Sea” or “Sea of Reeds”. However, a miracle occurs and the sea splits, allowing the Children of Israel to pass through.

The Egyptians give chase, but just as the last Jew arrives safely on dry land, the sea returns to its normal state and drowns the pursuing Egyptians. The Children of Israel then give thanks to the Lord by singing the Shira.

The second major theme of the sedra is the story of the “manna”. After the people complained about the lack of provisions in the desert — as a result of the no-deal Brexodus — the people begin to wonder whether, in fact, they should have “remained” in Egypt.

The Almighty however sends manna on a daily basis. On Friday, a double amount fell as nothing would fall on Shabbat.

He also commands Moshe to smite a rock, which results in it gushing forth water.

The sedra ends with an account of the defeat of the Amalekites who waged a war against the Children of Israel.

Next Monday is Tu b’Shevat — New Year for Trees — even if the weather is decidedly wintery!

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