Parashat Beshalah 5784

January 23, 2024

Rabbi Greg Schindler (’09)

As Parashat Beshalah begins, the Israelites are soon trapped between the Sea and the oncoming Egyptian army. What will they do? Incredibly, Gandalf raises his magic staff and the Sea splits!

Wait… I mean Moses.

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Parashat Beshalah 5783

February 1, 2023

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Fear of Freedom? A D’var Torah for Parashat Beshalah By Rabbi Steven Altarescu (’14)The most powerful metaphor in Jewish thought is the exodus from Egypt. The story of the exodus has been read as a model of people seeking freedom in every historical period, as a symbol of rebirth and renewal, as freeing oneself from psychological and emotional conscription. The visual image of the sea parting, leaving dry land for the Israelites to march through but then closing up and drowning the Egyptians who pursued them, is stirring. The song the Israelites sung when they witnessed the power of God to open the sea for them but close it on the Egyptians is sung every morning as part of the shaharit service. In the Torah the song of the sea is followed by song, drumming and dance led by Miriam and other women. The air feels full of celebration...

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Parashat Beshalah – 5782

January 14, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Beshalah By Rabbi Jill Hackell (’13) The Book of Exodus starts with the heroism of the midwives, who refuse to abide by Pharaoh’s terrible decree to kill the newborn boys born to the Israelites.  This introduction provides an interesting lens through which to view our parashah of Beshalah. (Full disclaimer: my daughter-in-law is a midwife, and I am a loyal viewer of the PBS show “Call the Midwife.” And I am a mother). In our parashah, the Israelites who have grown up in Egypt have left to begin their journey, but their way is blocked by the sea. At God’s command, Moses lifts up his arm over the sea, and God drove back the sea. The text tells us, “The waters were split, and the Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their...

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Parashat Beshalah 5781

January 29, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Beshalah By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone We’re finally free! We have been released from the oppressive and heavy-hearted regime that not only oppressed our people, but wrought destruction on all of the inhabitants of the land. What was expected to be a long 400 years actually turned out to be even longer than anticipated. After so much suffering you’d think that we would like nothing better than to forget the whole incident and move forward. But, the trauma of our experience lingers with us and even overshadows our sense of the journey ahead. Our parasha this week begins with the words “When Pharaoh let the people go” (Exod. 13:17). It is true that Pharaoh finally released the Israelites, but this masks the true major catalysts for the Exodus – the cry of the Israelites, the destruction...

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Parashat Beshalah 5780

February 7, 2020

A D’var Torah for Parashat Beshalah By Rabbi Len Levin This week’s joyful song at the crossing of the Sea is ensconced in the daily liturgy, morning and evening: “Who is like You, O Lord, among the celestials; who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, working wonders!” (Exod. 15:11) Thus the liturgy utters three ringing declarations about God: God creates, God reveals Torah in love, God redeems. A naïve understanding would have it that God is active and we are passive in these three actions. But a more sophisticated approach asks: Does God act unilaterally? Can anything happen in human history without human participation and cooperation? Two weeks ago, God promised: Ve-hotzeiti etkhem—“I will bring you out” (Exod. 6:6). In his liturgical poem Kehosha’ta Elim accompanying the Sukkot lulav processional, the 7th-century poet Eleazar Kalir read this verse ve-hutzeiti itkhem—“I will be brought out with you.” Abraham...

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