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Parshat Beshalach

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
.

Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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For further info, click here.

PARSHA
FACTS

NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 1
1 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 116

NUMBER OF WORDS: 1681

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 6423

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Shoftim
/ Judges 4:4-5:31 (Ashkenazim);
Shoftim / Judges 5:1-31 (Sepharadim)

The Shabbat on which Parshat Beshalach is read is called שבת שירה Shabbat Shirah, (Lit. Shabbat of Song), because it contains the song, Az Yashir. (15:1-18). See below.

Tu-B'Shvat חמשה עשר בשבט is Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014.


פרשת בשלח
THE
PARSHA
In our last episode Pharoh's hardened heart finally crumbled under the plague of the first-born. He begged Moshe to take his people and get out of Mitzrayim as fast as they could. But haste makes waste and Moshe deliberately waited till the next morning to wish Mitzrayim a 'toodle-loo.'

The Bnei Yisroel marched out of Mitzrayim with great wealth and divine inspiration.


DE
TOUR

As our Parsha opens someone has noticed that instead of heading to Eretz Yisroel the easy way, Hashem has chosen the long way. That's because Hashem knows that the Bnei Yisroel will have to pass through the land of the Pelishtim if they go the shorter route. The last thing a bunch of newly freed slaves need is a confrontation! They'll probably just turn tail and run back to the good-old mud pits! So Hashem has Bnei Yisroel take a detour tour through the desert, around the land of Pelishtim.

The Bnei Yisroel follows a cloud of glory by day and a pillar of fire by night. Protection from enemies? Well, I'm glad you asked about it: Hashem surrounds the Bnei Yisroel with another cloud that keeps the nation safe from enemies. Even arrows can't pass through this cumulus shield. The cloud also shields the Bnei Yisroel from the hot desert sun and the cold nights. Now what about those Eirev Rav characters, you wonder? They get to travel with the Bnei Yisroel and benefit from the everyday miracles such as Mann, slav and Miriam's well (more on these pretty soon) but they just can't seem to book a room in the cloud of glory hotel.


FLIP-FLOP
PHAROH

Three days later a stunned Mitzrayim regains its senses. What about the infrastructure? Who will finish up the building projects? They stole our gold and our reputation!

Pharoh's got some worries of his own. It's obvious that Hashem can pulverize anything that Mitzrayim sends against Bnei Yisroel. And after being pounded with ten devastating plagues, Pharoh is not so sure he wants to go back for more. But Hashem won't let him off that easily. He hardens Pharoh's heart again. Now Pharoh's painting a completely different picture. It's a picture of the armies of Mitzrayim bringing the rebellious slaves back to Mitzrayim!


WATER
GATE

Just when Bnei Yisroel feels like they're heading in a positive direction, Hashem tells Moshe it's time to turn back. "What's this," wonders the Eirev Rav. "Moshe takes us all the way out here to tease us with freedom?" That's bad enough but when they come to the edge of the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds) and find themselves trapped between drowning and the approaching army of Pharoh, the cries call for Moshe's impeachment!!

Pharoh's soldiers point their bows at the Bnei Yisroel, but the Cloud of Glory repells the barrage of arrows. A pillar of fire keeps the army from getting too close to the Bnei Yisroel. But take away the firewall and the Egyptian army will be hacking away at them.

The surf of the suf comes crashing up the beach, reminding the trapped nation that there is nowhere to go. Still, Moshe commands the people to march on. Hashem will surely turn the sea to dry land. This is the defining moment in Jewish history. The Avot (forefathers) cry out to Hashem to help their descendants. But that's not what Hashem is looking for. Will the Bnei Yisroel put their full trust in Hashem? Do they really believe that Hashem will save them from Pharoh's army? Would Hashem perform a miracle and allow the Bnei Yisroel to grow fins and breathe underwater?

Someone has to make a move and that someone is Nachshon Ben (the son of) Aminadav. He is the leader of Shevet (tribe) Yehuda and his faith is steadfast! If Hashem says keep walking, he'll keep walking. And he does! Soon the water is knee deep... waist deep... shoulder level. Just when all hope would be lost, Hashem kicks in with a great miracle.

Crossing the SeaOn Hashem's command, Moshe stretches out his arms over the water. Suddenly the Yam Suf splits into twelve dry paths on the sea bed. Each Shevet marches down its own respective path. Imagine the sheer majesty of such a wondrous miracle: the parted water stands like solid walls of glass. Even so, one can see fish swimming within these dividers, proving that Hashem can indeed change the course of nature!


PHAROH'S
ARMY IS
PLUNDERED!

Egyptians DrownJust as the last of the Bnei Yisroel steps out of the sea bed, the first Egyptian soldier rides in on his chariot. Pharoh watches from the sidelines as the seawalls hold up for his army. But just as the last chariot hits the bed, the ground begins to soften under the chariot wheels. The horses can no longer pull their load. Suddenly, from both ends, the walls of water cave in, drowning the entire army and their horses in a single wave. Only Pharoh survives to witness his army wiped out by Hashem.

Well, this change of events causes quite a splash! The Bnei Yisroel are inspired to sing a song of praise to Hashem. Moshe leads the men as Miriam leads the women in this divinely inspired song, "Az Yashir," that we recite daily during the morning prayers. The Malachim (angels) join in too! At this moment the Bnei Yisroel show great faith in Hashem and His chosen leader, Moshe. Even the Eirev Rav is inspired to do teshuva (repent). This day, seven days out of Mitzrayim, is celebrated as the seventh day of Pesach / Passover.


BITTER
SWEET
SITUATION

Now that the Egyptian empire is virtually demolished, Hashem moves on to more important matters. Hashem has a gift to give to the Bnei Yisroel, the Torah, Hashem's Divine Law. The Torah will separate the Jewish people from all other peoples of the world. The catch is that the Bnei Yisroel must rise to a level of greatness from the depths of impurity that defined Mitzrayim. For the next forty days the slaves will travel through the desert, rising out of the depths of tum'ah (uncleanliness) until they reach Har (Mt.) Sinai.

If there's one thing you worry about in a desert, it's water - and Bnei Yisroel ain't got none! After three days out on the sand, water becomes the name of the game and their faith in Hashem begins to flounder! By this time they arrive in an area later named "Marah." That's because "Marah" means "bitter" and boy, the water in Marah is quite "Mar!"

For the most part, the Bnei Yisroel holds tight to their faith. But the Eirev rav has other ideas. Their grumbling really irks Hashem. And, of course, by the time the Eirev rav is through, the whole Bnei Yisroel is caught up in the complaint department. What will they drink? Will they end up as the "dehydration nation?"

Hashem comes to the rescue despite being put on the spot. He commands Moshe to grab a branch from a certain tree. On Hashem's instruction Moshe throws the branch into the bitter water. Well, now Bnei Yisroel is in for a double miracle. The bark of this particular tree happens to be bitter. The water, too, is bitter. Yet, when the bitter branch hits the bitter water, the bitter water becomes sweet!

Well, that's a different story! Water! The Eirev rav does teshuva and the Bnei Yisroel rise up a notch in their quest for kedusha (holiness). Hashem is ecstatic with the happy ending and decides to serve up some Mitzvot (commandments) before Matan (the giving of..) Torah just to get the Bnei Yisroel used to keeping the Mitzvot. One of these mitzvot is Shabbat (more about that later!)


MAN OH
MANNA!

Now a month has passed since Yetziat Mitzrayim. The dough supplies that are used to bake bread are now used up. The Eirev rav get the jitters and, once again, panic out the rest of Bnei Yisroel. "Where will we get food now? Want us to die in the desert or should we run back to Mitzrayim where grain grew freely?"

Hashem is peeved but prepared.

Introducing... the miraculous Mann. Each morning, for the next forty years, the Mann would rain down from heaven, blanketing the desert with tiny white snow-like kernels of the "miracle bread." Mann could only come from shamayim (heaven). Where else would you find a food product that tastes just the way you want it to taste? You didn't have to bake it, fry it, sautee it, brew it, boil it and prepare it just to your liking. Just wish it. You're in the mood for a steak? The Mann's a steak! You need challah for Shabbat? Just wish it and you've got delicious challah!

There are, however, a couple of rules: Firstly, each person is entitled to an Omer (about 4 pints or 5 lbs) of Mann a day. Bring home more and miraculously the extra amount will dissolve. Because the Mann also rested on Shabbat, the Bnei Yisroel would collect a double portion of Mann on Friday. One portion for Friday and another for Shabbat. Of course, there were those skeptics who had to try it to find out. (Dathan and Avirum, those old troublemakers). They collected more than an omer and even went out on Shabbat to try to find Mann. They were punished by Hashem.

To commemorate this great Nes (miracle), Hashem commands Moshe to place some of the Mann into an earthenware jug for future generations.

In the evenings, Hashem caused slav-birds to fall down from the sky, providing the Bnei Yisroel with a good meat dish.


MORE
WATER
WORRIES

Even though Hashem has given over a few of His mitzvot, the Bnei Yisroel don't seem to be reveling in this gift. So Hashem decides to shake up the comfortable nation. When they arrive in an area called "Massa," they are terrified by the prospect that there's no water in sight. The people soon became very thirsty. As usual, the Eirev rav is first to grab their markers and oaktag and come out protesting this latest attempt at desert dehydration.

I know Hashem is slow to anger - but this is ridiculous! However, out of respect for Moshe's sister, Miriam, Hashem will provide Bnei Yisroel with water. Hashem commands Moshe to hit a rock. When he does, a spring of water comes pouring out - enough to sustain 3 million people! For the next 40 years, this "well of Miriam" follows the Bnei Yisroel through the desert.


MOSHE'S
ARMS VS.
AMALEK

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but who would have believed a nation would get up the guts so soon to attack Bnei Yisroel. After witnessing so many miracles and the divine strength of Hashem, you'd think Amalek would be shaking in their boots. But Amalek descends from Esav and they're willing to tempt fate for a chance to clobber Bnei Yisroel.

As Amalek approaches, Moshe figures he'd better send his best tzadikim into battle. They will understand the awesome power of Hashem and realize that, only with Hashem's help, Amalek's weapons are worthless. Moshe appoints his student Yehoshua to gather an army.

Moshe decides that he will daven to Hashem on the top of a hill where all the Jewish soldiers can observe him. Moshe holds up both his hands to the sky and begins to pray. When the soldiers notice Moshe's raised arms, they know that Hashem is on their side. But Moshe's arms begin to tire and the soldiers begin to worry and lose their courage. If Moshe's arms go down that will be the end of Bnei Yisroel!

HoldupAs Moshe sits on a rock in prayer, Aharon, together with Miriam's son, Chur, hold up Moshe's arms until the battle is over. Hashem accepts Moshe's prayers and grants Bnei Yisroel a great victory. Imagine... a bunch of ex-slaves beating one of the fiercest armies around!

Hashem is furious with Amalek. The splitting of the Yam Suf is a sign to all nations that Hashem has supreme power. All the nations of the world, up till now, have sat in awe of Hashem's greatness. Even though Amalek has lost the battle, they have broken that magic spell. For this, Hashem decrees that when the Bnei Yisroel are settled in Eretz Yisroel the King's first order of business will be to wipe out every man, woman, child and animal - and the very name of Amalek FOREVER!

Tune in next week when Bnei Yisroel become Hashem's holy Nation in the next exciting episode of:

Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Mavin on Beshalach

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