Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Beshalach
To dedicate this lesson

“Then We Will Sing…”

Who among us is not thrilled with the magnificent events of Parshat B’Shalach?! But hidden in the text virtually all of Jewish history is encapsulated.


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Shvat 10 5782
The Splitting of the Sea…..the majestic song of Shirat HaYam….our miraculous deliverance from the clutches of Paro & the Egyptian army….who among us is not thrilled with the magnificent events of Parshat B’Shalach?!

But hidden in the text, I suggest to you, is much, much more than that; in fact, virtually all of Jewish history is encapsulated in the very first paragraph of our Sedra. So let’s now take our own journey along with Bnei Yisrael:

We read, "v’lo nacham Elokim….ki karov hu." Hashem didn’t take us on a "short cut" to Israel, but rather took the long way. Rashi says "nacham" can mean "to lead," but we know the usual meaning is "to pity, or console." I suggest G-d is telling us right from the get-go this will not be a cushy, comfy journey either to Israel, or even when we get there. It will be hard – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As Tom Hanks famously said: "If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great."

And then the Torah uses the word "chamushim." While there are many commentaries on this word, the simple translation is "armed." Simply put, we had weapons with us. We would have to organize an army & we would have to fight, for although Hashem is an "Ish Milchama," He asks that we live according to natural behavior & do our fair share, even if that means we risk our lives in battle.

The pasuk then references the "bones of Yosef" that we took with us on our voyage. Clearly, this sends the image of all our martyred people throughout the centuries who sacrificed their lives for Hashem, the nation & the land. Think the Dry Bones of Yechezkel or the bones left in the crematoria after the Shoa. They are also a part of us, & so we are reminded, "hashbe’ah, hishbiya," we took a sacred oath when we became a People that we would stand together & we would keep the Torah; G-d, for His part, would guard us eternally & bring us home to Israel.

The first place we stop at on this tiyul thru history is, fittingly, Sukkot. The Sukka is in itself a microcosm of the Jewish experience: it emphasizes the Land, where our sukka must stand; it has shaky walls much like our fragile existence; but its true essence is that which is above us.

"Hashem will lead you in a pillar of cloud by day & a pillar of fire by night." There will be pleasant times when we can leisurely watch the clouds roll by, yet other times when we must pass thru fire. G-d will be there at our side through all of it. We will survive fire, & water, & we will emerge intact on the other side, singing a song of victory & proudly proclaiming, "Hashem yimloch l’olam va-ed!"
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