There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Beshalach, aliyah by aliyah.
Beshalach Exodus 13:17–17:16
Aliyah 1 – Exodus 13:17-14:8
17 After Pharaoh had let the people go, G-d did not guide them to the highway that goes through the land of the P’lishtim, because it was close by — G-d thought that the people, upon seeing war, might change their minds and return to Egypt. 18 Rather, G-d led the people by a roundabout route, through the desert by the Sea of Suf. The people of Isra’el went up from the land of Egypt fully armed.
The Almighty is capable of anything but He knows that Man can waste His blessings through our faithlessness.
Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him, for Yosef had made the people of Isra’el swear an oath when he said, “G-d will certainly remember you; and you are to carry my bones up with you, away from here.”
Who was keeping track of this? Israel was in Egypt for around 200 years. Generations of Joseph’s tribesmen kept a memory of this oath and fulfilled it all those years later. Why did Moses fulfill this promise? Why not someone from Ephraim or Menashe? Also, the Torah seems to be stating that oaths are important to keep. Isn’t that obvious, why point that out? The reason I mention is because I want to make a point of drawing from and learning from the Torah by taking the time to acknowledge what it is telling us.
They traveled from Sukkot and set up camp in Etam, at the edge of the desert. HaShem went ahead of them in a column of cloud during the daytime to lead them on their way, and at night in a column of fire to give them light; thus they could travel both by day and by night. Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire at night went away from in front of the people.
HaShem was always, visibly with Israel, leading, guiding and protecting them. He truly is the good shepherd.
HaShem said to Moshe,
Is this the 4th shortest verse in the Bible? This one was just for kicks.
“Tell the people of Isra’el to turn around and set up camp in front of Pi-Hachirot, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Ba‘al-Tz’fon; camp opposite it, by the sea. Then Pharaoh will say that the people of Isra’el are wandering aimlessly in the countryside, the desert has closed in on them. I will make Pharaoh so hardhearted that he will pursue them; thus I will win glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will realize at last that I am HaShem.” The people did as ordered.
HaShem is using the people as bait to draw Pharaoh into a trap.
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people. They said, “What have we done, letting Isra’el stop being our slaves?” So he prepared his chariots and took his people with him — he took 600 first-quality chariots, as well as all the other chariots in Egypt, along with their commanders. HaShem made Pharaoh hardhearted, and he pursued the people of Isra’el, as they left boldly.
Just as HaShem had arranged it. Pharaoh was provoked and set himself against Israel, against HaShem one more time.
Aliyah 2 – Exodus 14:9-14
HaShem will do battle for you. Just calm yourselves down!”
This is so true. He is always with us, even when we can’t see it, we just have to trust.
Aliyah 3 – Exodus 14:15-26
The Egyptians continued their pursuit, going after them into the sea — all Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and cavalry.
Look at the consequences of pride and a hard-heart. This entire army rushed forward into their own destruction.
Aliyah 4 – Exodus 14:26-15:26
He said, “If you will listen intently to the voice of HaShem your G-d, do what he considers right, pay attention to his mitzvot and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians; because I am HaShem your healer.”
Israel was already saved. They were redeemed and then HaShem gave them instructions on how to live full, free and happy lives. The Torah is good and beautiful and following it brings peace and blessings.
Aliyah 5 – Exodus 15:27-16:10
As Aharon spoke to the whole community of the people of Isra’el, they looked toward the desert; and there before them the glory of HaShem appeared in the cloud
Is this the first time that the people of Israel saw a manifestation of HaShem? I guess it is, besides the pillar of cloud and fire. I guess. How are they different? How was that not a manifestation of HaShem’s glory?
Aliyah 6 – Exodus 16:11-36
The people of Isra’el did this. Some gathered more, some less; but when they put it in an ‘omer-measure, whoever had gathered much had no excess; and whoever had gathered little had no shortage; nevertheless each person had gathered according to his appetite.
What an interesting miracle. I wonder how many types of miracles there are. This is a miracle of unity, I’ll call it this for now.
Aliyah 7 – Exodus 17:1-16
However, Moshe’s hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aharon and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other; so that his hands stayed steady until sunset.
How messianic am I? I can’t help but see something of Messiah with a fellow Jew on either side of him being alluded to here. The victory over Amalek happens before sunset. The victory of Messiah over death on Passover happens before sunset.
That concludes my journey through Beshalach for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.