PARASHAT BESHALACH – Rabbi Fishel Todd

PARASHAT BESHALACH

Rabbi Fishel Todd

Shulchan Aruch Project

QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT OF PARASHAT BESHALACH

Who said to whom, and under what circumstances?

(a) The wilderness has locked them in.

(b) Do not fear! Stand fast, and see the salvation of G-d.

(c) For G-d is waging a war for them against Egypt.

(d) G-d shall reign for ever and ever.

(e) Sing to G-d, for he is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea.

(f) As we sat by the flesh-pots of Egypt, as we ate bread to satisfaction.

(g) This is what G-d has spoken: tomorrow is a rest day, a Holy Sabbath to G-d.

(h) How long will you refuse to observe My commandments and My teachings?

(i) Is G-d amongst us or not?

(j) The war of G-d against Amalek shall be from generation to generation.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON THE TEXT OF PARASHAT BESHALACH

Rabbi Fishel Todd

(a) G-d to Moses – about His tempting Pharaoh to pursue the Israelites by changing their route, giving him the impression that the Israelites were stranded in the desert. (14:3)

(b) Moses to the Israelites – as they saw the Egyptians in pursuit. (14:13)

(c) The Egyptians to each other – realizing the power of G-d as He gave them a rough ride in their chasing the Israelites though the parted Red Sea. (14:25)

(d) Moses to the Israelites – as a conclusion to the Song of Moses in thanksgiving for the miracles of the Red Sea. (15:18)

(e) Miriam, to the women, in leading them in the Song of Miriam, sung in thanksgiving for the miracles at the Red Sea. (15:21)

(f) The Israelites, to Moses and Aaron. They were complaining about the food in the desert, looking at the past in Egypt with rose-colored spectacles. (16:3)

(g) Moses to the Israelite princes, when they reported the double portion they received on the sixth day of the week. (16:23)

(h) G-d to Moses – following the disobedience of certain Israelites who went out to gather the manna on the seventh day. (See the commentaries section for further explanation of this verse.) (16:28)

(i) Moses – in calling the place of the Israelite protest Masa U-Meriva (strife and quarrel). He records that they were ‘testing’ G-d, as they had contended ‘Is G-d amongst us or not?’ (17:7)

(j) According to the simple context of the verse, it is Moses declaring that war of G-d against Amalek shall be from generation to generation. Amalek is the permanent enemy of His people. (17:16)

Rabbi Fishel Todd

QUESTIONS ON RASHI TO PARASHAT BESHALACH

Rabbi Fishel Todd

From where, within Rashi’s commentary, may the following values / rules be found?

(a) One ought not to demand the impossible from one’s children.

(b) G-d makes Himself known to humanity as He enables good to triumph over evil.

(c) There is a time for prayer, and there is a time for action. The two should not be confused with each other.

(d) G-d punishes the wicked according to their degree of evil.

(e) G-d does not only bring distress to those who actually harass Israel, but to those far away who support the harassment.

(f) When a person complains and protests, he should do it in a decent manner.

(g) A person should ask for what he needs in whatever he is doing, not for luxuries.

(h) It is forbidden for a person to travel a substantial distance from his own settlement into an uninhabited area on Shabbat.

(i) G-d has His ways of supporting those who study Torah.

(j) It is important for a leader to give his people the benefit of the doubt.

(k) One should respect one’s students as one respects oneself.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON RASHI TO PARASHAT BESHALACH

(a) The text recalls that Joseph adjured his descendants that his final resting place should be in the Holy Land, and that his remains should be transferred there when the Israelites finally leave the country. Unlike his father Jacob, he did not command his children to bury him in the Holy Land immediately after his death. For Jacob had a son – Joseph the Viceroy of Egypt – with enough authority to carry it out: Joseph himself did not. (13:19)

(b) The text states that after Pharaoh pursues the Israelites, G-d ‘will be honored though Pharaoh’ – through the miracles forming His judgement over him. (14:4)

(c) As the Egyptians approached the fleeing Israelites, G-d told Moses not to stand in prayer, but to direct the Israelites to travel forward. (14:15)

(d) The text of the Song of Moses states that some of the Egyptians drowned ‘like stone’ (v.5), others ‘like straw’ (v.7) and yet others ‘like lead’ (v.10). This shows that each Egyptian was treated according to what he deserved. The worst were tossed about like weightless straw – incessantly thrown around – suffering the most. The best of the group sank like lead – a quick death, and those in the middle sank a little slower – like stone. (15:5)

(e) The text states that the ‘princes of Edom will panic, the powers of Moab will tremble’. (15:15) Even though these people did not actually oppress the Israelites, they are made to suffer deep unease and fear. This is because the power they had faith in and supported against the Israelites was hurled into the abyss in such a spectacular manner. (15:15)

(f) We may learn the importance of asking for essentials in a respectful manner in Rashi’s comment to 15:25 – where he states that the Israelites should have asked Moses to pray to G-d to send them water, rather than merely grumble to Moses and Aaron (15:24) about the lack of water.

(g) The Israelites complained about the lack of bread and meat in the desert. Bread is an essential – therefore the ‘bread from heaven’ fell at the convenient hour in the morning. Meat is a relative luxury – and in any case they still had cattle from the spoils of Egypt – therefore G-d showed His displeasure in bringing the quails at inconvenient evening hours. (16:8)

(h) G-d’s telling Moses that on the seventh day ‘everyone should remain in his place: let no person leave his place on the Sabbath day’ (16:29), is used as a source by the Talmud as a basis for the Rabbinical rule that a person may not travel more than two thousand cubits into uninhabited territory, and if he does, he may not travel more than four cubits until Shabbat is over.

(i) The text states that a small amount of Manna was to be set aside in a suitable container as a reminder to future generations that, as in the desert, G-d has His ways and means of looking after His people who serve Him (16:32-33).

(j) When the Israelites suffered thirst at Rephidim and they complained vociferously to Moses, he cried out to G-d with ‘what can I do for these people – they are about to stone me’! (17:4) Although the people did not protest in the most polite way, they did not personally threaten Moses. In G-d telling Moses to ‘pass before the people’ he was demonstrating to him that he should see for himself that the Israelites did not have violent intentions towards him even in the most extreme circumstances, and that he should have given them the benefit of the doubt.

(k) Moses is recorded to have told Joshua to ‘choose men for us’ (17:9) to go into battle against the Amalekites. Joshua was Moses’ student, yet he treated him as an equal…

QUESTIONS ON OTHER COMMENTARIES TO PARASHAT BESHALACH Rabbi Fishel Todd

Rabbi Fishel Todd

(a) Why, according to Ibn Ezra, did Moses tell the Israelites to wait for Divine Intervention against the pursuing Egyptians, rather than urge them to physically go into battle, as he did later with the Amlekites?

(b) Why, according to the Ohr Hachayim, did G-d tell Moses not to stand in prayer as the pursuing Egyptians approached, but to order the Israelites to go forward – into the Red Sea?

(c) What, according to the Ramban, is the relevance of ‘G-d shall reign for ever and ever’ (15:18) to the content of the Song of Moses?

(d) G-d declared that He would give a daily supply of food to the Israelites, so that He ‘would test them – whether they would follow… (the) Torah or not’. (16:4) What was that actual test according to Rashi, the Ramban, and the Ohr Hachayim?

(e) On Shabbat, some people went out to gather Manna and found none. For that, the text states, G-d said to Moses: ‘How long will you refuse to observe My commandments and My teachings?’ (16:28) Why was that rebuke directed at Moses instead of at the errant Israelites? – according to Rashi, and Ibn Ezra.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON OTHER COMMENTARIES TO PARASHAT BESHALACH

(a) Ibn Ezra suggests that the Israelites were incapable of fighting without miraculous Divine intervention, because generations of being slaves to the Egyptians had destroyed the necessary initiative and fighting acumen. That is why only Moses’ prayers enabled them to later overcome the Amalekites.

(b) The Ohr Hachayim states that this was not the time of prayer for the following reason. The Israelites had to have the merit of showing faith in G-d in order that they might be saved through Divine intervention. That was that they should ‘journey forth’ (14:15) – and demonstrate that faith by entering the Red Sea when it was in full flow… It would be that act of faith – not the prayers of Moses and Aaron – that would make them worthy of G-d’s salvation at the Red Sea.

(c) According to the Ramban, these words link the miracle of the Red Sea to G-d’s salvation in the future. Just as He destroyed the might of Egypt, so may He reign forever, saving His faithful from those who seek their harm.

(d) The test connected with the Manna was, according to Rashi, whether they would keep the intricate laws of Shabbat associated with it or not. The Ramban prefers a simpler interpretation – would the Israelites follow Me even though they do not have food for the next day? The Ohr Hachayim places the emphasis on ‘Torati’ (16:4) – now all their needs are taken care of, would they employ their free time to Torah study and service of G-d?

(e) According to Rashi, the rebuke was directed at Moses as he had failed to impress on the people that they were to receive a double portion on the sixth day for Shabbat. Ibn Ezra, however, argues that although the rebuke was directed at Moses, he was not its object – he was the spokesman to convey that message to those who were actually guilty Rabbi Fishel Todd.

ITEM FOR DISCUSSION ON PARASHAT BESHALACH

We read in the Hagadda shel Pesach that ‘in every generation they rise against us to destroy us, but the Holy One… saves us from their hands’. Of all our enemies why is the nation of Amalek – who was the grandson of Esau – singled out as the worst of all our attackers? as reflected in the Mitzva of ‘you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens’. (Deut. 25:19).

 

Rabbi Fishel Todd

 

15 Replies to “PARASHAT BESHALACH – Rabbi Fishel Todd”

  1. Hi there! I can only imagine the amount of work you put in to see this, Thanks for writing and sharing such a timely and good post! This was quite informative, no regrets going through this piece. Learning about the Jewish culture is amazing!  I will definitely keep an eye out for more articles like this.

  2. Hello, thanks for sharing. I am happy I came across this because of how informative the article is. It’s really nice to know and learn about God because he has been faithful. The least we can do sometimes is to just learn about his word. I am so glad i came across this article.

  3. Bs to get a good evening with you and I will be there at the end we can get a good one for sure until now I have a good friend and I are baby h at bsky h k just keep bothering oko not long of nonsystematic no need one bhk know of longship isalmic Rabbi but I have to go to the store shey have ok I no know my mk km km mk.

  4. This wonderful information and I have been my glad that there is some really good information online for all of us at see and make the best of and this is one very good information you have here for us. The first thing I did was to be a part of it and it was a great experience for all your friends and family to a new level of the most important things to do 

  5. Hi. I grew up in Israel where we learn the stories of the bible all through our school years. I never heard of Rabbi Fishel Todd but I love all the stories of the book of Genesis. Thank you. It has been a while since I have come across Bible stories. Brings back lovely warm memories.

  6. Very interesting to know about the rabbi culture. This has been a great article, in a very good read. I love the correlation with current events and everything that you put into your throat and concise informative articles. You have done well with this article and you have informed us all very well with this article. Thank you for this article

  7. Haha thanks for the article my guy! To be completely honest with you, I actually really liked this article and found it very enjoyable and informative. Thanks to your posts, I know a lot about Rabbi Fischel Todd already! I can’t wait to learn more about him and I hope you continue to share this with as many people as you can! 

  8. I like your topic and how it is executed throughout the article.

    I appreciate how the theme is not purely Americano and prompts a more foreign perspective. 

    Your structure is also quite nice and you convey that you are an authority in your field.

    I believe that you have all that it takes to exceed expectations.

    Keep asking questions.

  9. Is the Tora the same as the old testament in the King James Bible? I am also wondering why you don’t spell out God instead of G-d?  The site appears informative with questions and answers. The site has questions and answers the way God answers to his people back in the day and today.

  10. Hello Rabbi Fishel Todd,

    So much information and guidance from this page that could be used by the public. As I read through the passages that seem to be covering the same topic. It makes me think of the current state of our planet. There are so many governments and cultures in the world today and all are accessible from anywhere in the world. I just hope the sords you have provided ring true. Good will triumph over evil! Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of God! 

    Never forget, God punishes the wicked according to the degree of evil! Keeping this in mind people should live their lives in a manner with the consequences they may suffer. 

    I will stand tall and accept my judgment when the time comes and embrace the love that is due to me as a human.

    Thanks,

    Chad

  11. Thank you for sharing this useful information with us! I’ve learned a lot from reading these lines. We have to spread our knowledge every day, so we paint life in different colors. It’s nice to meet new cultures. I’ve had a chance to meet some Israelis and hear a lot of precious truths from them. Enjoy every day, lots of success I wish you in all fields!

  12. First of all, congratulations on a great article, which certainly required quite a bit of time invested in preparation. I really like the questions asked, followed by the answers.
    Secondly, thank you for bringing us closer to Jewish culture and religion. Since I didn’t grow up with this faith, I don’t know much about it, and I love reading articles that broaden my horizons.
    I wish you all the best
    Nina

  13. Thank you for this very informative and helpful post. I love learning more on different cultures and their view on these subjects and of our wonderful history. I now know some enjoyable information on Rabbi Fishel Todd thanks to this article. This makes me happy to read more on different cultures.

  14. Hello there! This is a very interesting read. Rabbi Fishel Todd seems like a very knowledge and wise man. Religion seems to be of low importance these days for most people when it should be the opposite. I hope to learn more about him in your future posts. Thanks for putting in the time to create such a detailed and informative article!

  15. This was a thought-provoking article and a great way to start the day with a look at history that has a lot of parallels to current modern events. It is amazing how generational approaches can differ when dealing with similar issues. For me, a lesson learned from this article is that history repeats itself and that we must study and learn from history so that we do not repeat the unpleasant episodes over and over again.

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