Parshas Beshalach-Summary of the Parsha

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Parshas Beshalach

Pesukim: 116 [Siman: יד אמונה]

Haftorah: Shoftim 4:4[1]-5:31

Number of Mitzvos:

There is a total of One Mitzvah in Parshas Beshalach. One positive commands and Zero negative commands.

 

Positive commands:

1. Mitzvah 24/Negative 13: Not to leave the Techum/border on Shabbos.[2]

 

Rishon

  1. Bnei Yisrael journey after leaving Egypt:
    • The route: After Pharaoh sent the nation, Hashem, rather than taking them through the land of the Philistines which was a shorter route, he took them the roundabout route through the desert of the Sea of Reeds. This is because Hashem feared perhaps the people would turn back if taken by the short route.
    • Arms: The Jewish people were armed when they left Egypt.
    • Yosef’s bones: Moshe took with him Yosef’s bones out of Egypt, as Yosef made the Jewish people swear to take them when they left.
    • Journeying to Eisam: They traveled from Sukkos to Eisam, which was at the end of the desert.
    • The clouds of glory: Hashem went before the Jewish people in a pillar of cloud in order to guide them. At night He went before them in a pillar of fire, to shine for them the night, so they could travel by day and by night.
  • Turning back to Pi Hachiros: Hashem instructed Moshe to turn back and encamp by Pi Hachiros which is between Migdal and the sea, opposite Baal Tzefon. “Pharaoh will then exclaim regarding Bnei Yisrael that they have trapped themselves in the desert and I will harden his heart so he gives chase, and then Egypt will know that I am Hashem.”
  • The Jewish people did as they were instructed.

  1. Pharaoh chases after Bnei Yisrael:
  • Pharaoh was told that the Jewish people had fled, and he and his servants regretted having sent them out. He thus harnessed his chariot and took his people with him. He took six hundred select chariots, together with all of Egypt’s chariots to chase after the Jewish people.
  • Hashem hardened the heart of Pharaoh to chase after the Bnei Yisrael and meanwhile the Jewish people were going out with a raised hand.

 

Sheiyni

  1. Bnei Yisrael realize they are under attack by the Egyptian army:
  • The Egyptians gave chase after the Jewish people and caught up with them by Pi Hachiros near the sea.
  • The reaction of the Jewish people: The Jewish people looked up in fright seeing Pharaoh and his army coming in on them. The Jewish people cried out to Hashem. They said to Moshe “Were there not enough graves in Egypt for you to take us out to die in the desert? Why did you take us out of Egypt? Did we not already tell you that we would rather continue in slavery than to die in the desert?
  • Moshe’s response: Moshe said to the nation: “Do not fear, stand fast and you will see the salvation of G-d that he will do for you today. You will never see Egypt again. Hashem will fight for you and you shall remain silent.”

Shelishi

  1. The sea splits:
  • Hashem instructs Moshe: Hashem told Moshe to stop crying at him, and that the Jewish people are to travel. Raise your staff over the sea and split it, and the Jewish people will enter the sea, on dry land. I will harden the heart of Egypt so they continue to give you chase, and I will be glorified through their army, and Egypt will know that I am G-d.
  • The clouds protect: The pillar of Hashem which usually stood before the camp, then moved behind them between the nation and Egypt. The cloud caused darkness for Egypt but gave light to the Jewish people. The two camps did not meet the entire night.
  • The sea splits: Moshe raised his staff over the sea and Hashem sent a strong east wind the entire night and He turned the sea to dry land, and the sea split. The Jewish people entered the sea and it became for them a wall on the right and left. The entire Egyptian army followed them into the sea in a chase.
  • Hashem causes the Egyptian army to enter into disarray: Towards morning, Hashem looked down upon the Egyptian camp with a pillar of fire and cloud and He entered them into disarray. He caused the wheels of the wagons to fall off. The Egyptians exclaimed “We shall flee before the Jewish people, as their G-d is fighting for them.”

 

Revi’i

  1. The sea returns to normal course, annihilating the Egyptian army:
    • Hashem told Moshe to stretch his staff over the sea, and its waters shall return, and drown the Egyptian army. Moshe did as he was told, and sure enough towards morning the sea returned to its normal course, with the Egyptians fleeing towards it. Hashem shook the Egyptians within the water. The water drowned the entire army, leaving not even one survivor.
    • The Jewish people walked through the dry land within the sea and Hashem saved them from the Egyptians. They saw the corpses of the Egyptian army on the sea shore. They saw the great hand of G-d over Egypt, and they feared Hashem and believed in Hashem and Moshe His servant.

 

  1. The song of Az Yashir:
  • Moshe and the Jewish people then sang the song of Az Yashir to Hashem, praising Hashem for all that He has done. They said: “I will sing to Hashem, for He is exalted. The horse and rider he plunged into the sea. G-d’s strength and power has been to me a salvation. This is my G-d and I will beautify Him, the G-d of my fathers and I will exalt Him. Hashem is the master of war, Hashem is His name. He cast Pharaoh’s chariots and army into the sea, and his best officers were drowned. The depths of the waters covered them, and they descended like stone. Your right-hand Hashem is majestically powerful and crushes the enemy. You devastate your opponents, consuming them like straw with Your wrath. With the breath of Your nostrils you caused the water to pile up, and to stand like a wall. You froze water in the depths of the sea. The enemy stated that he will chase and overtake us and then distribute the plunder. You blew Your wind and the sea covered them. They sank like led. Who is like You Hashem, among the powerful and holy. You are too awesome to praise, Doer of wonders. You stretch Your right hand and the earth would swallow them. With kindness you led this people to Your holy abode. People heard and they trembled, the people of Philistia were struck with terror. The heads of the Edomites and Moabites were shocked and shivered. The inhabitants of Canaan melted. May they remain in fear until this nation passes through. You will bring the nation to Your dwelling place, to Your sanctuary. Hashem will reign forever.”

 

  1. Miriam sings:
  • Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the tambourine, and all the women followed her with tambourines and dancing. Miriam and the women also sang a song to Hashem.

 

  1. Bnei Yisrael travel to Marah and find no water to drink:
  • Bitter water: Moshe led the Jewish people in travel towards the desert of Shur. They traveled for three days and could find no water. They arrived at Marah, and could still not drink water, for the water that was there was bitter, thus lending it its name.
  • Moshe sweetens the water: The nation complained to Moshe asking what they are to drink. Moshe cried to Hashem and Hashem provided him with a stick which he threw into the water, and sure enough, the water became sweet.
  • Laws are given: In that area Moshe taught the Jewish people a number of laws. He told them that if they obey the commands of Hashem, the illnesses of Egypt will never befall them.

 

Chamishi

  1. The Travels of Bnei Yisrael:
  • Elim-Water and dates: They traveled to Elim and found there 12 springs of water and seventy date palm trees, and they encamped there.
  • They left Elim and traveled to the desert of Sin. This occurred on the 15th of the second month of leaving Egypt [i.e. Iyar].

 

  1. The Heavenly bread-The Mun:
    • Bnei Yisrael complain in hunger: The entire Jewish people complained against Moshe and Aaron, saying if only they would have died in the hands of G-d in Egypt, while enjoying pots of meat, and bread to satiation, than to die in the desert in starvation. They accused Moshe of taking them out of Egypt to make everyone die of hunger.
    • Hashem promises Mun: Hashem responded to Moshe saying that he will rain bread from heaven, and the nation will gather bread each day for that day, and I will test them to see if they follow my laws. On Friday they will receive a double portion.
    • Moshe informs the nation: Moshe and Aaron responded to the Jewish people that in the evening they will be given meat and see that Hashem took them out of Egypt, and in the morning they will be given bread and see the glory of G-d who has heard their complaint. “What are we that you complain against us, it is against G-d you should complain.”

 

Shishi

  • The falling of the Mun: Hashem spoke to Moshe saying that He had heard the complaint of the Jewish people, and in the afternoon they will eat meat, while in the morning they will eat bread. So it was towards evening that the Slav pheasant bird ascended and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. The layer of dew then ascended and behold they saw on the face of the desert a thin item looking like frost on earth. The Jewish people looked at each other and exclaimed “It is Mun” as they did not know what to call it. Moshe then told them that this is the food that G-d has provided them to eat.
  • How much Mun each should take: Hashem commanded that each person is take in accordance to what he eats, which is one Omer per person, in accordance to the number of members of one’s family. An Omer is 1/10th of an Eifa [2.49 liter]. The Jewish people did so, and some took too much, and some took too little. [Miraculously] whoever took more than necessary or less than necessary, found the exact amount in their possession.
  • Not to leave leftover Mun: Moshe instructed them not to leave any leftover Mun [that was taken] until morning. Some people did not listen to Moshe and left over the Mun past morning, and it became infested with worms and stunk. Moshe became angry with them. All the leftover Mun in the field which was not taken would melt in the sun.
  • The Friday double Mun portion: On Friday they gathered a double portion, two Omers per head, and the community leaders came to Moshe and informed him [of this anomaly]. Moshe told them that this was done because the next day is Shabbos, and they must bake and cook today for today, and all the leftovers are to be eaten the next day. So they did, and indeed the next day the leftover Mun remained without spoiling.
  • Keeping Shabbos: Moshe informed them on Shabbos that the Mun will not fall that day, and they are to only collect it six days a week. Nonetheless, some individuals went to the field on Shabbos to take the Mun and they did not find it. Hashem chastised Moshe saying “Until when will you refuse my commands? I have given you the resting day of Shabbos and therefore provided you with a double portion on Friday. No man shall leave his area on the seventh day.” So the Jewish people rested on the seventh day
  • Its taste and texture: The Jewish people called the food Mun , and it was like a coriander seed and had the taste of a wafer fried in honey.
  • Safekeeping some of the Mun as a reminder: Moshe stated that Hashem commanded that an Omer of the Mun is to be kept for safekeeping for all generations, so they see the bread that Hashem fed them in the desert when they left Mitzrayim. Moshe told Aaron to take a jar and place in it one Omer of Mun, and it was placed before Hashem (before the Aron) for safekeeping for all generations.
  • How long the Mun lasted: The Jewish people ate the Mun for 40 years, until they arrived at the border of the land of Canaan.

 

Shevi’i

  1. No water:
  • The nation traveled from Midbar Sin to Refidim, and they had no water to drink. They complained at Moshe, demanding him to give them water and accusing him of taking them out of Egypt so they and their families and cattle can die of thirst in the desert. Moshe replied back to the nation “What do you want from me? Why do you fight with G-d?” Moshe then asked Hashem what he can do with this nation, as they may stone him.
  • Moshe hits the rock: Hashem instructed Moshe to take with him some of the elders of Israel, and to take his staff, and hit the rock that He will be standing near. Once the rock is hit, water will stream out and the nation can drink. Moshe did so in front of the elders of Israel. The area was named Maaseh U’Merivah due to the contention that took place and the challenge against G-d.

  1. War with Amalek:
  • Amalek came and waged a war against the Jewish people in Refidim. Moshe told Yehoshua to conscript an army and wage war with Amalek. Moshe would stand on top of a hill with his staff in his hand.
  • Moshe raises his hands: Yehoshua did as told, and Moshe, Aaron and Chur ascended the hill. Whenever Moshe would raise his hands the Jewish people would gain the upper hand of the battle, and when his hands were lowered Amalek would gain the upper hand. Moshe’s hands became heavy, and they thus took a stone and placed it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Chur supported his hand, one on each side. His hands remained up until the sun set.
  • The result of the war: Yehoshua weakened Amalek with the sword.
  • Obliterating Amalek: Hashem told Moshe to write this event in a book and tell it to Yehoshua. Hashem promised to obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Moshe built an altar and called it Hashem Nisi. Moshe said that “There is a hand on the throne of Hashem, Hashem is at war with Amalek for all generations.”

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[1] So is followed by Ashkenazi and Chabad communities. However, Sefaradi communities begin reading from 5:1

[2] Listed by Rambam, Chinuch, however is not considered a Biblical prohibition according to Ramban. See Chinuch ibid; Admur 396:1 for both opinions.

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