Weekly Reading Insights: Beshalach  

Overview of the Weekly Reading

Torah: Exodus 13:17-17:16;
: Judges 4:4-5:31 (Song of Devorah / Song by the Sea)



"As Pharaoh sent the people.." (Ex.13:17)
There is no aspect of being which will not serve a positive purpose. In certain cases, as in the example of Pharaoh, a transformation is necessary. In their immediate state, they cannot serve a positive purpose, and "their destruction is their purification;" i.e., only when they are broken will their positive nature be revealed. Nevertheless, ultimately, this transformation will take place, and the positive energies they contain will surface.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe, Sichos in English)

"G-d did not lead them the way through the land of the Philistines, because it was near." (13:17)
The Jewish people were led on a roundabout way to the Promised Land to afford their future descendants the strength to overcome and succeed even when the path is rocky and full of obstacles.
(Sefat Emet)

"Behold the Egyptians were marching after them... and the Children of Israel cried out to G-d." (14:10)
If, G-d forbid, a person is suffering from an illness, and he tries to escape his sickness by running to another place, what will he accomplish? Certainly his aches and pains will travel with him wherever he goes! His preferred course of action is rather to cry out to G-d and ask that He heal him and make him well. So it was with the Jews. Even though they had finally left Egypt, they had not yet rid themselves of the threat of the Egyptians. Therefore, "the Children of Israel cried out to G-d."
(Baal Shem Tov)

"Pharaoh drew closer (hikriv)...and the Children of Israel cried out." (14:10)
The Hebrew word hikriv is a transitive verb, implying that Pharaoh caused others to draw near rather than himself. The Midrash relates that this is because when Pharaoh pursued the fleeing Jews, it caused them to become closer to G-d. In fact, the entire exile in Egypt and the splitting of the Red Sea was only in preparation for the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai - the ultimate expression of closeness and attachment.
(Sefer HaMaamarim Shin-Tav)

"G-d will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." (14:14)
G-d will only fight your battle on the condition that you "hold your peace"--remain quiet and avoid controversy and disagreement amongst yourselves.
(Shaar Bat-Rabim)

"And you shall hold your peace." (14:14)
This command was directed against those Jews who wished to engage in prayer instead of actually proceeding into the sea. We learn from this that there are times when a Jew must close his prayer book, remove his tefilin, fold his talit and leave the synagogue - in order to save the thousands of Jews who are in danger of drowning in the sea of assimilation, "splitting the sea" and uncovering the light of the Jewish soul that exists within.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe) (from L'Chaim 956)

"The angel of G-d that went before the camp of Israel moved and went behind them." (14:19)
When the Jewish people are worthy of G-d's benevolence they attain a level higher than the angels. The angel that until now had preceded them on their journey respectfully stood still and allowed the Children of Israel to pass on ahead.
(Kedushat Levi)

"The waters were a wall unto them." (14:22)
When a Jew observes Torah and mitzvot faithfully to the extent that he is willing to jump into the sea, not only does the "sea" disperse, but it is transformed into a protective wall that safeguards him.
(Likutei Sichot)

"And the water was like a wall" (14:24)
This is to teach you that when one stays faithful to G-d and His Torah and for His sake is willing to go even into the sea, not only is the sea nullified as an obstacle, it even turns into a protective wall.
(from Likutei Sichot -translated from Sichat HaShavuah no.164)

"And they believed in G-d." (14:31)
The Hebrew word for faith, emuna, has a dual meaning. Etymologically, it is related to the word meaning to train or accustom oneself, and also to the word for power and strength. However, these two meanings are interrelated. In the merit of emuna, i.e., by virtue of the strength and certitude of the G-dly soul, a Jew is able to overcome the downward pull of the animal soul and ascend from one spiritual level to the next, till he merits the very highest revelations of G-dliness. Indeed, the Jewish people merited to sing the "Song of the Sea" solely because of their emuna.
(Sefer HaMaamarim 5680) (from L'Chaim 1057)

"The people believed in G-d, and in Moses, His servant." (14:31)
"A person who believes in the leader of the generation has faith in 'He Who Uttered and the world was brought into being.' Every single Jew, regardless of his spiritual attainments, must cleave to the Moses who exists in every generation, for through him he cleaves to G-d Himself.
(Likutei Torah)

"And Israel saw the great power which the L-rd had shown on the Egyptians...and they believed in G-d." (Ex. 14:31)
Even though the Jewish people had witnessed many wonders and miracles firsthand they still needed to have faith in G-d. For faith is on a higher level than sight; indeed, it enables a person to see more than the physical eye can ever observe.
(Chidushei HaRim)

"This is my G-d and I shall glorify Him, L-rd of my father and I shall exalt him" (15:4)
In tractate Sota it informs us that it was the Jewish children at the Reed Sea that first recognized the Divine and they exclaimed, "This is my G-d and I shall glorify Him." This affected the parents, who responded, "L-rd of my father and I shall exalt him." So it will also be at the future redemption, that the children will be first, as is written (Malachi 3), the hearts of the parents will be returned through the children.
from Likutei Sichot (translated from Sichat HaShavuah no.474)

"G-d showed him a tree...." (15:25)
The spiritual source of bitterness and evil is the Tree of Knowledge, which brought about the mixture of good and evil in the world. In order to sweeten the bitterness, G d showed Moshe a tree, the Tree of Life, clean of all evil, so that through it he would be able to sweeten the bitterness of the Tree of Knowledge.
(from Sefer Maimorim 5766 - translated from Sichat HaShavuah #319)

"See, G-d has given you Shabbat." (16:29)
The joy and happiness that one feels on Shabbat is in direct proportion to the effort expended in preparation during the previous six days. For, indeed, it states in the Talmud, "He who takes pains on Friday will eat on Shabbat." This is what is meant by "G-d has given you Shabbat" - G-d has given you the ability to determine the amount of holiness and pleasure you will feel on Shabbat.
(Likutei Torah) (from L'Chaim #806)

"See, G-d has given you the Shabbat, that is why he gave you food for two days on Friday...no one should go out." (16:29)
There are things that are given from Above; they do not depend so much on our effort as human beings. But the feeling of the holiness of Shabbat, that is something that G-d gave into our control. The way a Jew prepares for the Shabbat and the way he utilizes her, that is the way he will appreciate her. When we occupy ourselves with learning Torah and serving G-d during the weekdays yet on Shabbat use our time to elevate ourselves even more in our serving G-d, then we will feel the holiness of Shabbat quite clearly.
(based on Likutei Totah - translated from Sichat HaShavuah 59)

"Remain every man in his place, let no man go out of his place" (16:29)
'Remain every man in his place'-means that one has to see oneself smaller than he is. And if even so he feels self important, at least 'let no man go out of his place'-he should know his place; he should not see himself greater than he really is.
(from Rabbi Yisrael of Rozhin) [translated from Sichat HaShavuah no.164]

"The children of Israel ate the manna for forty years." (16:35)
Since G-d provided the Jews with everything they needed, such as food and clothing, it seems impossible for them to have fulfilled the mitzva of charity. The manna in the dessert tasted like any food a person had in mind. A poor person had never tasted expensive foods, so the charity of a rich person was to recommend to a person which foods to have in mind.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

"Moses said to Joshua, choose for us men...and Moses and Aaron and Chur went up to the top of the hill." (17:9)
Why was it necessary to assemble an entire team consisting of Moses,Joshua, Aaron and Chur to fight Amalek? The Jewish people had not been behaving properly, and this is why they were attacked by Amalek. Indeed, the very name of the location where the attack occurred-- Refidim--is related to the Hebrew word pirud, meaning disunity. At that time, the Jews were fighting amongst themselves and also rebelling against G-d. The first letters of the names Aaron, Chur, Joshua and Moses form the word achim--brothers. Moses' call to the Jewish people was that if they would act as brothers and live in harmony, united in the study of Torah and observance of mitzvot, Amalek would never be able to penetrate the Jewish camp.
(Chassidic sources)

"G-d maintains war against Amalek from generation to generation." (17:16)
After the Jews left Egypt, they were on the highest level of faith in G-d. Amalek's attack on the Jewish people was not merely intended to destroy them physically, but to detach them from G-d spiritually, by putting doubts in their mind about G-d. Whenever a Jew has doubts about Judaism, Amalek is at work. G-d is so angry at Amalek that He wants to wipe out his remembrance entirely.
(Keter Shem Tov)




Today, as we stand at the threshold of the ultimate redemption, it is once again the woman whose song is the most poignant, whose tambourine is the most hopeful, whose dance is the most joyous. Today, as then, the redemption will be realized "in the merit of righteous women." (Talmud, Sotah 11b) Today, as then, the woman's yearning for Mashiach - a yearning which runs deeper than that of the man, and inspires and uplifts it-forms the dominant strain in the melody of redemption.
(From meaningfullife.com, adapted from the Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Our Sages tell us that the Jewish people will sing a total of ten songs of praise to G-d. Nine songs have already been sung throughout Jewish history; the tenth song will be sung when Mashiach comes. For each of the first nine songs, the Torah uses the feminine form of the word "song" which is "shira." The song of redemption is referred to in the masculine, "shir." Why the difference? All previous redemptions were followed by exile once again they were not permanent. This is like a woman who gives birth. After experiencing the pain of birth, she finally is rewarded with a child. With her next pregnancy, she once again labors and is again "rewarded" with a child. So too with each redemption; the Jewish people suffer and then are redeemed. The final redemption, however, will be permanent, never to be followed by another exile. At that time we will sing the tenth song (shir), the song of redemption.
(from Discover Moshiach)

"Moses then sang…" (Ex. 15:1)
After the splitting of the Reed Sea, Moses led the singing of a song of praise and gratitude to G-d. But in describing that event, the Torah doesn't say, "Moses sang," (shar) but, literally, "Moses will sing" (yashir).
From here we can see reference in the Torah to the resurrection of the dead (techiyas hameisim) which will take place in the time of redemption. At that time, "Moses will sing," once again praises to G-d.
Furthermore, R. Eliezer says, anyone who recites the Song of Moses now, before the redemption, will merit to recite it in the future, in the Messianic Age.
(Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org)

"This is my G-D…." [Ex. 15:2]
When the Jewish people went through the parting of the Sea, they were able to perceive G-d's presence so clearly that they were able to point with their finger and say, "This (zeh) is my G-d." Even this, however, will not compare with our ability to experience G-dliness in the Messianic Age, when there will be an incomparably higher revelation. For G-d has told the Jewish people, "At the parting of the Sea you said, `this' (zeh) only once, but in the Messianic Age you will say `this' (zeh) twice, as we find in the prophecy Isaiah (25:9), "You will say on that day, `Behold this (zeh) is my G-d. We have trusted Him and He has redeemed us; this (zeh) is G-d who we have trusted, let us rejoice and be happy in His redemption.' "
(Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org)

"Miriam... took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances..." (Song at the Sea, Exodus 15:20)
How did the Israelites have tambourines in the desert? But the righteous women of that generation were certain that G-d will perform miracles for them, and they prepared tambourines and dances while still in Egypt...
(Midrash Mechilta)

"G-d will reign forever and ever." (Ex.16:18)
In the era of Mashiach, rulership will belong to G-d forever.

"Moshe said to Aharon: Take one jar and put a full meaure of manna into it; place it before the L-rd for a safekeeping for your generations." (Ex. 16:33-see also Rashi on the verse)

Mahn (manna) is the special food the Jewish People ate in the wilderness, the miraculous bread from Heaven. It is the food that G-d had prepared from the Six Days of Creation, and when the appointed time came, He brought it down every day and provided the Jewish People with their needs. A jar of manna was preserved by Moses as a remembrance for generations, and it was hidden together with the anointing oil until the time of the Redemption, when this jar will be among the things revealed by Elijah the Prophet.

[The Lubavitcher Rebbe, translated by Michoel-Lieb Dobry of Tsfat]


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