Friday, January 22, 2016

Torah Thoughts on Beshallach

This week’s Torah portion, Beshallach, (Ex. 13:17 – 17:16) tells of the greatest miracle in the Torah, the splitting of the sea of Reeds so that the Israelites might cross, but the Egyptians pursuing them are drowned.  Once the great crossing is over, though, the reality of life in the wilderness begins.  The Israelites suddenly realize they have no food, no water, and nowhere to live.  God provides food, the manna which will feed them through their forty years in the wilderness, and water, which God gives them by Moses striking the rock.  But other nations now know that the Israelites are in the wilderness, and Amalek attacks the fledgling nation at Rephidim.  
God also provides help for the Israelites in fighting their enemies, but we also learn a lesson in how to work with one another.  As Joshua leads the newly-formed army in battle, Moses stands above them on a hill, holding the rod with which he split the sea in his hands.  As long as Moses’ hands are raised, the Israelites prevail, but when Moses grows tired and lowers his arms, Amalek begins to win.   Aaron and Hur sit Moses down on a stone and hold up his arms for him until the sun set, so that Israel can win the battle.  Even as great a leader as Moses, and even with all of God’s support, also needs help from his fellow human beings.

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