Sedra of the week: Beshalach

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Sedra of the week: Beshalach

Rebbetzin Vicki Belovski looks ahead to the forthcoming portion of Torah

This week’s parshah is action-packed. It includes the crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army, the Song at the Sea when the Jews rejoiced in their salvation, the appearance of manna, which would sustain them during their wanderings, and a battle with Amalek, their ongoing enemy.

 There is an interesting contrast between two verses, immediately prior to the splitting of the sea: as the Jews see the Egyptians approaching, they cry out to God. The rabbis say this means that they followed the example of the Patriarchs when in a difficult situation and prayed. However, the text suggests otherwise: their crying out is quoted as complaints against Moses: Why did you bring us out here to die? Were there no graves in Egypt?

 Moshe reassures them, telling them that God will save them by fighting for them. He adds, “V’atem tacharishun”, generally translated as, “You shall hold your peace!” This could be understood to refer to their complaints, but a number of commentators understand it to mean “Don’t pray!”

This is surprising. Surely prayer is an appropriate response? The commentators think otherwise. Now is the time to be silent and rely entirely on God to save them, of His own volition, without a need for prayer. 

The splitting of the sea required the Jews to have faith that the waters would part. The midrash tells us that Nachshon ben Aminadav took the first steps into the water, which then split. His faith was enough, without any extra prayers, to enable the miracle to happen.

 In any difficult situation, we have to do our part: sometimes this is a practical effort, sometimes it is prayer and sometimes it is remaining silent and having faith.

  • Vicki Belovski is Rebbetzin of Golders Green Synagogue

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