These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

בשלח, beshallach

Posted on January 12, 2011 by Avi Strausberg

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In this week’s parsha, God finally makes good on His promise to the Jewish people and gets the Israelites out of Egypt in style.  This is no shabby saving; The hand of God Himself causes the sea to swell and the waters to part.  While the Israelites breeze through on dry land with walls of waters on both sides, their Egyptian pursuers drown in the sea, as these same walls come crashing down.  After the Israelites had doubted Moshe’s God back in Egypt, finally, “ויאמינו בה’ ובמשה עבדו, they had faith in the Lord and his servant Moses” (beshallah, 14:31).  And, they not only had faith in Him, but also sang a triumphant song of thanksgiving and praise.

And yet, after just two months in the desert, the Israelities are quick to nostalgize about the good ol’ days in Egypt and accuse Moshe of starving them to death.    Thankfully, God avoids revolt and appeases them with manna, the miracle food that covers the fields each morning like dew.  However, again, the people find themselves thirsty and without water, and again they cry out to Moshe, “Why did you bring us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” (beshallah, 17:3).   Despite bitter water made sweet and sustenance that rains down from the sky, despite the cloud of God’s protection that accompanies them and Moshe’s attempts to reassure the people, despair overwhelms the Israelites at each and every obstacle.

so quick to forget,
doubt embitters the water,
is God among us?

may we try to remember God’s goodness even when we’re lacking faith,


–check out julie seltzer’s haiku, torah scribe in life and guest writer this week, for parshat בשלח!