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Beshalach

  • Beshalach 2020

    What is this EcoShabbat all about?

    Whatever your views about Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion groups, environmental issues challenge us to think seriously about what we are going to do about the climate emergency. Our relationship with the natural world needs rebalancing, and the time to do this is now.

  • Beshalach 2019

    The novelist Samuel Butler once said “You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it.” Judaism is many different things, but first and foremost it is a faith. Beshalach represents the genesis of faith in Judaism. We are told, for the first time, that the people of Israel “believed in the Lord and in Moses his servant”. Narrowly escaping Pharoah’s army, the Israelites witness the splitting of the Sea of Reeds and break out into the “Song at the Sea”, a spontaneous song of exaltation and thanksgiving.

  • Beshalach 2018

    Medieval philosophers, from Maimonides to Aquinas, sought to establish God’s existence from rational principles. For these philosophers, God’s existence could be proven abstractly, as the logical conclusion of a compelling argument. An underlying assumption is that a suitably robust argument can transition one from a situation of not-knowing to knowing God. However, this philosophical approach is far removed from a Biblical sensibility. To see why, let’s turn to a verse from this week’s Sedra.

  • Beshalach 2017

    When the children of Israel saw [it], they said to one another, It is manna, because they did not know what it was, and Moses said to them, It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.  Exodus 16:15

  • Synopsis of Rabbi Bergson's D'var on Beshalach

    In the Sedra of Beshallach, in introducing the song of the Jewish nation after the splitting of the sea we find the words; “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to G-d, and they spoke, saying... (15:1)

    In last Friday night’s D’Var Torah Rabbi Bergson asked the question “How did they actually sing this song? 

    The Talmud in Sotah 30b provides three approaches. In a nutshell:

  • Beshalach 5774

    This week’s Haftarah is distinguished by being the longest Haftarah of the year. It has more verses than the famous Haftarah of the entire Book of Jonah which we read during Minchah on Yom Kippur. It consists of two separate accounts of the war in which Israel won a decisive victory over the Canaanites, during the period of the Judges, in the 11th century BCE. It was the last war against the Canaanites.

  • Beshallach 2013

    But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the Children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. Exodus 13:18
    This English translation, if not incomprehensible, needs a couple of readings to understand. One wonders whether King James a Hebraist himself was able to grasp the information being elucidated. The problem the translator had was that the word for led implies more.
    I would like to contrast the explanation of the Netziv (died 1898) and the Meshach Chochma (died 1926).

  • Beshalach 5773

    The first section of today’s Sidra describes the Israelites’ journey out of the land of Egypt. They travelled from Sukkot to Etam, which was situated on the edge of the desert. The Torah tells us the route by which the Almighty decided to take them. There were three possible routes: the North Eastern route, the route through the middle of the Sinai Peninsula and the South Eastern route. The first two routes were rejected. The North-Eastern route would have taken them in the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, which was used by the Egyptian army and was patrolled regularly.

  • Beshalach 2012

    The novelist, Samuel Butler, once said “You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it”. Judaism is many different things, but first and foremost it is a faith. And yet, if there is one aspect of Judaism with which we wrestle, it is what it means to believe in God in our complex age, and how we keep faith in the face of so many obstacles.

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