Parashot and Haftarot from Shemot (Exodus)
KOL HA’TOR Presentation
Weekly Bible Reading #16 - Year 5773 (2012/2013) – January 26, 2013
Parashat B'Shalach (When he let go): Exodus 13:17 - 17:16
Haftarah: Judges 4:4-5:31
NOTE: Kol HaTor, in its commentaries on the weekly Parashot, endeavors to search for and accentuate the Torah Messages contained in the Parashot as applicable to the main Theme of Tanach of the Return of the House of Israel, i.e. the Lost Ten Tribes of Northern Israel and their Reconciliation with Judah to form the reunited 12-Tribed Kingdom of Israel.
DISCLAIMER - The authors whom we quote from for this Commentary are not associated with KOL HA'TOR and need not agree with our views expressed herein or in our other publications. While we publish their views for its relative value to the interpretation of the Parashah, KOL HATOR does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by these authors.
The Bible serves as our guiding Light along the Way. It should be expected then, that the Weekly Torah Readings should contain guidelines for the 'Now" that we are living in, similarly as the reader finds strengthening condolence and inspiration from the Bible in times of serious stress or troubles.
It also serves as a source of thanksgiving and rejoicing in the Blessings of Life along the Way.
We have often remarked on how, often, these Readings so almost eerily correspond with, or resolves the current news highlights and events of that specific week.
The week of this Parashah saw the important elections in Israel and its surprising, totally unforeseen results. The question naturally begs whether this week's Parashah Message holds any relevance to these events. A closer analysis presents surprising conclusions!
Let us take a moment to summarize the background conditions to the elections in Israel and then see if the Parashah presents guidelines, inspiration and hope.
Israel is not just facing an irresolvable political dilemma in the face of Arab demands, overwhelmingly backed by the world, on our Holy Land - the demand for a "2-State" solution. It also faces the dark clouds on the horizon of a looming nuclear threat from Iran. Add to this the housing problem in Israel, price increases throttling the nation, social welfare crises facing dwindling financial funding and, most importantly, the political, social and religious class division which is so un-Jewishly destroying the great national ambiance of Jewish Israel.
Trust in the Rulers has taken a Nose Dive. It is Time for Change.
The Kol HaTor Vision of a re-united 12-Tribed Kingdom in the territory of a Greater Israel - ONE Land, undivided - has received a resounding "No Chance!" from the electorate. The only party spelling out these "hopes", Otzmah, received 1% of the total votes - not enough for even one seat in parliament.
Not that there are not more Jews who believe in a "ONE-State" solution and oppose a 2-State situation in which Israel has to share the Holy Land with its arch enemies - but the Jewish intellect and wisdom is too practical to pursue such a direct Vision. Thus, many One-State supporters voted for other parties which could hopefully advance conditions for such an ultimate Outcome - as foretold by the Bible.
From the election results emerged a totally new comer to the political stage, Yair Lapid, bringing with him a truck load of newcomers to the Israeli Knesset (parliament) who have never been in Knesset before! No commentator foresaw this.
Lapid's ideas have now been summarized by one Jewish commentator as being "in the spirit of Mashiach ben Ephraim" - to bring much needed UNITY amongst the striving political, religious and social divisions. As Maggid Dov Bar Leib wrote on his “Years of Awe” blogsite called “End of Days, the article titled, “The Quiet Revolution towards the Light of Redemption” on January 25, 2013:
Maggid Dov Bar Leib – “His name [Lapid] means "A Torch will give light". Is it possible that he is [in the spirit of] Mashiach ben Ephraim?? Who would have thought? Ben Ephraim returns our society here in Eretz Yisrael to a civilization based on common decency. He fears G-d but is not necessarily Shomer Shabbat. ...
He has recovered to help lead a broken nation back to the Yesod [foundation] of the Torah: Common Decency!! Then I realized that if he is MBEphraim, many Chareidim will reject him. Since they won't recognize him for what he is: the common decency that is a pre-requisite for the Torah. Those are his Mitzvot: Common Decency. Some Chareidim will join him, and some will riot against him.”
This indeed was Lapid's platform for election. An enlightening insight into his approach and thinking (as well as into Israeli religious society) can be obtained from a video of Lapid's address to a Haredi audience one year before the elections:
Yair Lapid speaking on the topic: “Changing the Face of Israeli Society”
Our recent Parashot have shown that “we dare not advise HaShem on His election of a Redeemer.” We have seen how that the ‘Egyptian’ Moses and Yosef was recognized by the Egyptians and Israelites as being completely contrary to their expectancies of all concerned. Lapid certainly fills this categorization.
But - here enters our Parashat B'Shalach with a joyful Song, as the Israelites sang on the opposite shore of the Sea after their miraculous saving. It brings a celebration and Hope of renewed Growth! Is it co-incidence that this Shabbat was a Special Shabbat of a Song of Release and Change?
In this year of “Revelation?” - as we have learned in Parashat Bereisheet; “According to a summary by Rabbi Jason Sobel, ... This decade of the 70’s (which we are now in, according to the Biblical Calendar) may turn out to be a decade of “seeing in abundance; revelation; proper perspective.” This would bring with it the increase of wisdom and revelation. The numerical value 73 (2012/13) also refers to ‘wisdom’.”
Shabbat Shirah (Sabbath of Song – January 26, 2013) is the special Shabbat (Sabbath) when we read Parshat Beshalach which is the Torah portion that includes the Song at the Sea.”
Judaism 101 on Special Shabbatot – “Unlike the other special Shabbatot, Shabbat Shirah does not have an additional reading, but rather is dictated by the presence of a standard reading. Shabbat Shirah is the Shabbat when we read Parshat Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16), which is the Torah portion that includes the Song at the Sea.
Tradition teaches that there are only ten true Songs (Shirot, the plural of Shirah) in the history of the world. These true Songs are not mere melodies; they are expressions of the harmony of creation and mark monumental transitions in history. Another of these Songs appears on the haftarah portion for the week (Judges 4:4-5:31): the Song of Deborah. The Song of Songs is, of course, one of the Ten Songs. Interestingly, the Tenth Song has not yet been sung: it is the Song of the coming of the Mashiach, which will be sung at the End of Days (see Isaiah 26:1).
Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum (AZAMRA Parshah) makes the following interesting observations in his commentary on Parashat B'Shalach:
Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum – “The lessons learned by the Children of Israel in ALL their wanderings in the Wilderness are integral parts of this same Torah, as in this week's parshah of BESHALACH, which begins to relate their encounter with the harsh reality of the Wilderness after the exuberance of the Exodus. [Similar to the experience of a soul who has found and turned to G-d, released and facing a New Life].
Directly after the triumphant march of the Children of Israel out of Egypt “with a high hand”, they appear to go into retreat, and their former masters come racing after them to recapture them. Directly after they depart from the Red Sea after witnessing the greatest ever freak event in the natural order, they find themselves three days into the Wilderness with no water to drink. They go further, and they have nothing to eat. They find food today, but will they have food tomorrow? They go further -- and again there is nothing to drink. Suddenly, their deadliest enemies, the Amalekites attack.
The Promise is that at the end of the journey lies the “happy ending” -- the Land flowing with milk and honey. But unlike in fairy tales, the path through the speaking, teaching Wilderness of reality is long and arduous, twisting and turning in frightening ways. Each twist and turn in the journey comes to teach a new aspect of faith in G-d: faith in the miracles that take place in and through the workings of nature (“and they BELIEVED in HaShem and in Moses his servant”, Exodus 14:31); faith in the miracles through which we receive our livelihood (the root of MANNA is the same as EMUNAH, faith); faith in G-d's miraculous power to heal through our keeping the Torah (“I, HaShem am your healer” Exodus 15:26); faith in G-d’s power to conquer the forces of evil (“and his hands were faith” Exodus 17:12).
At the very center of this Song, to which all the world dances, is the vision of the Holy Temple, the House on G-d's Mountain in Jerusalem. This too is an integral part of BEREISHIT, the letters of which, when rearranged, spell out BAYIT ROSH -- the “House that is the Head.”
Exodus 15:13, 17 – “In Your kindness You have taken this people that You redeemed, You have led them in Your strength to the dwelling-place of Your holiness. You will bring them and plant them on the Mountain of Your inheritance, the foundation of Your dwelling place that You have made, HaShem, the Sanctuary, O G-d, that Your hands have formed”
Parshat BESHALACH is always read just prior to, or as this year, actually ON the festival of TU BISHVAT (15th of Shevat). Many people think of this as the "Festival of Trees". However, the Mishnah (Rosh HaShanah 1:1) refers to it as the "New Year of THE TREE".
On one level, this is an allusion to the Etrog tree -- and it is proper on Tu Bishvat to offer a prayer for the Etrog one will take in eight months time on the festival of Succos, for it is now, after Tu Bishvat, that the fruit begins to develop and grow on the tree.
On another level, "THE TREE" is an allusion to the Tree of Life, which begins sending fresh vitality and life into the world just when spring starts to appear in the Land of Israel and the water from the winter rains enters the trees from the soil, sending energizing sap all through them.”
(Source: AZAMRA Parshah by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum.
Free subscription to his regular studies and commentaries).
Is there a Torah Message in this for the Drastic Turn that was Experienced in Israeli Politics this week?
Rabbi Greenbaum, continues:
Exodus 15:23,25 - “And they came to Marah and they could not drink the waters for they were bitter. And he cried to HaShem, and HaShem SHOWED HIM (or "taught him") A TREE and he cast it into the waters and they were sweetened".
Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum – “The ‘Tree’ that sweetens the bitterness of life is the Torah, which provides us with the waters of DA’AS [Da’at], understanding of how evil is joined to good as part of G-d's unity.
The first laws of the Torah were given at Marah: "There He placed for him [i.e. Israel] a law and judgment, and there He tested [the people]. And He said, If you will surely listen to the voice of HaShem your G-d and do what is right in His eyes and listen to His commandments and guard all His statutes, all the diseases that I have put upon Egypt I will not put upon you, for I HaShem am your healer" (Exodus 15:25-6).
The laws given at Marah were those of Shabbos (Shabbat), the Red Heifer (purifying from defilement from contact with a dead body) and DINIM, the laws governing our relations with others (see Rashi on Exodus 15:25). All three are bound up with healing. Only through keeping Shabbos is it possible to heal from the curse of Adam, “with the sweat of your brow you will eat bread.”.
Man is forced to work in the world. The only release from this slavery (Egypt) is to abstain from work for one day of the week, in order to elevate the work of all the days of the week to the service of G-d. The Ashes of the Red Heifer are the source of all healing (EPHER = ashes, has the same letters as the root RAPA = heal), for if we cannot heal from death and integrate it into our vision of life, we cannot heal from anything. The laws governing our relations with others in our family, marital, business and other dealings are the foundation of social healing, which must go hand in hand with individual healing.” (End of Quote)
We are thus left with the question and/or the possibility, that the political change in Israel may be instigated by HaShem sending an "Egyptian" (secular) Lapid to initiate national Unity, without which there can be NO Redemption, and, like new life to a tree, initiate 'new' life into Israeli society. Lapid is outspoken on his wishes to reduce the stranglehold of the Haredim on marriages, conversion, and throughout the social cycle. Watch the video link given above.
The Amazing Compassion and Grace of HaShem
We conclude this Parashah with a heart rendering review by Rabbi Pinchas Winston at Torah.org. concerning the Jewish view of G-d's Grace and forgiveness: It stems from the event of Israel's passing through the Sea, between two great threatening walls of water on either side: The author quotes the Gaon of Vilna:
Gaon of Vilna – “The Torah is hinting to us through this slight change of spelling [of two references to the walls of water] that there was reason for G-d to be angry at the [Hebrew] people who crossed the sea on dry land, a very dangerous situation. The question is; what happened all of a sudden to change the mood of G-d at this most precarious moment in the redemption process?
Michah. According to the Midrash, Michah, who belonged to the Tribe of Dan, had brought along with him an idol from Egypt. Being the last tribe to leave the sea, there came a point when he was the only tribe to remain between the walls of water, at which point the Attribute of Justice began to accuse him before G-d.
For, as long as the rest of the [Hebrew] nation was still crossing the sea, the miracle was justified in their merit. However, once only the Tribe of Dan remained in the sea, the Attribute of Justice complained before G-d that the miracle should not be upheld on their account, because of the idol of Michah (Likutei Torah, Derech Avos). Hence the word cheimah, alluding to the anger G-d had towards the tribe of Dan for Michah’s idol.
Anger, yes. Destruction of the tribe, No! The question is what stayed G-d’s hand of strict justice? Why did He not carry through with the demand of the angels to take Michah and his tribe to task for the idol worship they still perpetrated? The answer to this question is here: It says in Shir HaShirim [Song of Songs] Rabbah (2:8:2):
Shir HaShirim Rabbah 2:8;2 – “When Moshe came and told the people: “In this month you will be redeemed,” they asked him, “Moshe Rabbeinu, how can we be redeemed? All of Egypt is steeped in our idol worship!”
He answered them, “Since He wants you to be redeemed, He does not look at your idol worship but instead ‘skips over mountains’ (Shir HaShirim 2:8)” . . . He explained to the people that The Holy One, Blessed is He, was dealing with them on the level of the light of Arich Anpin called Ayin, which works above any measure; it does not depend upon merit or demerit. (Drushei Olam HaTohu, Chelek 2, Drush 4, Anaf 5, Siman 4).
The Midrash is a play on a verse from Shir HaShirim about G-d “skipping over mountains,” the mountain this time being the grave sin of idol worship. Incredibly, when a keitz comes, that is, a destined time for redemption that cannot be pushed off, G-d is prepared to even overlook a sin such as idol worship, which is considered to be a rejection of the entire Torah, just to redeem His people.
That is the reason why G-d did not exact punishment on the Tribe of Dan; His desire to redeem the Jewish people overcame His desire to punish them, and therefore, they were allowed to survive. The time would come in the future, in the episode of the Concubine of Givah, when the nation would pay for Michah’s idol, but not now, not while redemption was in the process. However, there is another reason as to why G-d let the Tribe of Dan off the hook at this time:
Midrash Tehillim 32:10 – “Nothing stands in the way of bitachon (Trust in Divine Providence), as it says in the Midrash: “One who trusts in G-d will be surrounded by kindness (Tehillim 32:10)—even an evil person who trusts in G-d will be surrounded by kindness. It further says:
Midrash Tehillim 32:10 - “Many are the agonies of the wicked, because they do not place their trust in The Holy One, Blessed is He” . . . The Ramban says something similar: “This is why it says, ‘Trust in G-d and do good’ (Tehillim 37:3), and it does not say, ‘Do good and trust in G-d’; to teach that trust in G-d does not depend upon good deeds at all. Rather, one should trust in G-d whether he is righteous or evil (Sefer Emunah v’Bitachon, Ch. 1). (Drushei Olam HaTohu, Chelek 2, Drush 4, Anaf 5, Siman 4)
As the Nefesh HaChaim explains:
Nefesh HaChaim – “At the time of the splitting of the sea, G-d told Moshe, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Children of Israel to travel forward!” (Shemos 14:15). This means that their salvation was dependent upon them: If they had enough faith and trust and traveled toward the sea, with confidence and without fear, then this alone would cause the sea to split before them. It would have prompted a response from above which would have led to the necessary miracle to split the sea. (Nefesh HaChaim, Ch. 9).
It is important for the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel take Notice!
In other words, the bitachon (Trust in Divine Providence) that the Tribe of Dan exhibited by walking into the sea saved their lives while in the sea, in spite of the idol in their possession. Bitachon does not wipe the slate clean of past sins; only teshuvah (repentance) or punishment (judgment) can do that. However, in the meantime, it can save a person from a certain disaster during a time of crisis, as was the crossing of the sea. It is that powerful a trait. It is that important to G-d.” (End of Quote).
May the coming year bring us Renewal of Life in Israel. May it prepare the way for closer unity in the nation of HaShem and open the hearts in both Houses of Israel for closer acceptance of each other on basis of the example that He, the G-d of Israel, sets for us!
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