April 19, 2024
Parashat Beshalach

When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat Beshalach, alternative spellings Beshallach or Beshalah (Exodus 13:17 through 17:16) is the 16th weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. According to Wikipedia, Beshalach contains 6,423 Hebrew letters, 1,681 words, 116 verses and 216 lines of the Torah Scroll. Beshalach (בְּשַׁלַּח‎‎) includes the climax of the 1956 classic Cecil B. Demille Passover narrative; Moses parting the Red Sea, Israel’s excape from Egypt and the destruction of Pharoah’s army.

Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Beshalach:

There are so many miracles in this Torah portion that one who is studying Yetziat Mitzrayim , the Exodus from Egypt could almost be overwhelmed and lose context of the big picture. Here are a few of the major miracles to consider.

  1. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night which served multiple purposes- to guide Klal Yisroel on our journey but also protect us from our enemies.
  2. The splitting of the Yam Suf allowing Klal Yisroel to cross over unharmed.
  3. The breaking of the wheels of the Egyptian chariots which trapped them when the Yam Suf waters flowed back.
  4. The gift of water and Manna for sustenance throughout the 40 years in the desert.
  5. The military defeat of Amalek .

These miracles are enumerated when we sing Dayenu on Passover but they serve a bigger picture which we must perceive when reviewing the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim. If we fail to see this bigger picture, then the events and miracles seem disconnected and random.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch z”l comments that the majority of the Jewish people did not comprehend big picture of Hashem’s miracles until they sang the Shirat Hayam together. It is in the words and music and rhythm of the poems that the people suddenly realized fully what they were experiencing and the full extent of G-d’s care. In our modern world, we spend very much time on obtaining our physical and material needs without much appreciation or thought of where they come from.

In our struggle for survival or success we often forget to appreciate the role of the spiritual aspects of our lives and the gifts we are given daily by Hashem- the strength and courage to face the cruelty and seeming indifference of the majority of the world and to rise above this by becoming more spiritually aware of all that we receive.

The purpose of Yetziat Mitzrayim if understood fully was to give us the gift of Torah and Mitzvot and to help us rise above the law of the jungle to see that we can accomplish great healing by attuning ourselves to the real reasons why we were granted our freedom.

Rabbi Michael D. Klein

Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.

Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.

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