For the week ending 11 February 2006 / 13 Shevat 5766

Parshat Beshalach

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Pharaoh finally sends B'nei Yisrael out of Egypt. With pillars of cloud and fire, G-d leads them toward Eretz Yisrael on a circuitous route, avoiding the Pelishtim (Philistines). Pharaoh regrets the loss of so many slaves and chases the Jews with his army. The Jews are very afraid as the Egyptians draw close, but G-d protects them. Moshe raises his staff and G-d splits the sea, enabling the Jews to cross safely. Pharaoh, his heart hardened by G-d, commands his army to pursue, whereupon the waters crash down upon the Egyptian army. Moshe and Miriam lead the men and women, respectively, in a song of thanks. After three days' travel only to find bitter waters at Marah, the people complain. Moshe miraculously produces potable water. In Marah they receive certain mitzvot. The people complain that they ate better food in Egypt. G-d sends quail for meat and provides manna, a miraculous bread that falls from the sky every day except Shabbat. On Friday a double portion descends to supply the Shabbat needs. No one is able to obtain more than his daily portion, but manna collected on Friday suffices for two days so the Jews can rest on Shabbat. Some manna is set aside as a memorial for future generations. When the Jews again complain about a lack of water, Moshe miraculously produces water from a rock. Then Amalek attacks. Joshua leads the Jews in battle while Moshe prays for their welfare.


The Long And Winding Road

“…G-d did not lead them by the way of the land of the Pelishtim, because it was near…” (13:17)

Oy vey!, chutzpa, kosher, maven, schlep, bubkes, shmooze. Many are the Yiddish words that have made their way into common English usage over the years

The word “Diaspora” came into the English language solely to describe the unique exile of the Jewish People. A possible origin of the word is the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew word “za’a’va” in Devarim 28:25, "…you will be a Diaspora (Greek for dispersion) in all kingdoms of the earth."

As a nation, there is scarcely a place on the planet that has not seen a Jew. Our exiles have been so broad, so long. So many of our prayers express the longing for the final redemption. And down through the millennia, there have been more than a few that have either given up hope or forgotten that we are still in exile.

And yet, the Jewish People are still what we have always been. The Romans who once filled the world with sound and fury now sip espresso on the Via Venetto. The glory that was has been reduced to a bottle of Ouzo and a bowl of calamari, but the Jewish People go on and on. From where did we get our staying power?

“…G-d did not lead them by the way of the land of the Pelishtim, because it was near…”

When G-d took us out of , He could have brought us directly through Gaza and up into the Land of Israel. The Torah tells us that G-d was concerned that the Jewish People when confronted by war might reconsider and return to . Thus He brought us through the desert, removing the opportunity of an easy return.

If was the matrix of all the future exiles of the Jewish People, so the Exodus from was the template for the ultimate redemption.

G-d led us a long tortuous path to the Land of Yisrael so that this experience would give us the spiritual stamina to be able to survive the long and winding road through history that would lead to our ultimate redemption.

  • Based on the Sfat Emet

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