In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov.3;6 ב”ה
Beshalach- The Sea, Manna, Shabbat. Walking and Ceasing in Faith. 5777
Yeshayahu 25; 1 O Lord, You are my God;I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders,plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.2 For You have made a city into a heap, a fortified city into a ruin; A palace of strangers is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. 3 Therefore a strong people will glorify You; Cities of ruthless nations will revere You.4 For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless Is like a rain storm against a wall. 5 Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens; Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced.6 The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.7 And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations.8 He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.9 And it will be said in that day,“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”
Fairy tales may end happily ever after, but the Torah is an encounter with reality, in which progress and breakthroughs are frequently accompanied by reverses and obstacles. The climactic drama of the Exodus, related in parasha of Bo, was followed by the entry of the Children of Israel into the Wilderness, the MIDBAR, a place that “speaks” — MEDABER — teaching day by day. The MIDBAR is a super-reality, a stark no-man’s land where the ultimate existential reality of our lives, wanderers in this often inhospitable world, is writ large. It was fitting that the Torah was given in the Wilderness, a place to which no one can lay claim, a place where no one can take credit. In the wilderness, no one provides hospitality except G-d. The lessons learned by the Children of Israel in ALL their wanderings in the Wilderness are integral parts of this same Torah, as in parasha Beshalach which begins to relate their encounter with the harsh reality of the Wilderness after the exuberance of the Exodus. Each twist and turn in the journey comes to teach a new aspect of faith in G-d: faith in the miracles that take place in and through the workings of nature; faith in the miracles through which we receive our livelihood; faith in G-d’s miraculous power to heal through our keeping the Torah (“I, HaShem am your healer” Ex. 15:26); faith in G-d’s power to conquer the forces of evil (“and his hands were faith” Ex. 17:12).
Faith is the sustenance needed to survive in the wilderness of this world and to reach the promised “inhabited land” (Ex. 16:35) that surely lies at the end of the road. The very twists and turns in the road are trials sent to bring us nearer to this sustaining faith. For that reason, it is not written (Ex. 14:10) that “Pharaoh drew near” to the Children of Israel, but rather, “Pharaoh BROUGHT closer” Pharaoh brought the Children of Israel closer: his very onslaught and the fear it caused brought them closer to G-d, ‘moving’ them to turn to Him in prayer and faith. (Excerpt from Rabbi Greenbaum of azamara.org )
Sh’mot 17; 17 Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds); and the sons of Israel went up in martial array וַחֲמֻשִׁים from the land of Egypt.
#2571 adj. chamush – eager, active, brave, ready prepared. Occurring once here in Torah.
In our last lesson we discussed the deeply rooted trauma the Children of Israel, the Hebrews, had incurred after the years of slavery in their place of pressing, Mitsrayim. We remember that Mitsrayim, more that a physical place, can be any difficult, testing, harmful, painful place (situation) or period in life we find ourselves. We discussed in depth the heart of the people, of Phar’oh and how that connected to God’s purposes for taking us all through these trying places. Teshuvah-repentance- a return to Hashem with our hearts of flesh. We discussed the purposes for the Machot Mistrayim, the plagues in Egypt. One conclusion we arrived at was the people had to go through Egypt to get to Sinai.
The purpose for them leaving was to go and receive the Torah. After having experienced Egypt the mitsvot (commandments) they would be gifted would become moral imperatives they could compassionate with and relate to. They would become much more meaningful and beautiful. Just as the people are about to taste a moment of pure relief, perhaps the first time in years (or ever)… they’d been able to relax their nerves, caging the butterflies, not having to watch their backs continually, for a moment having something to think about other than the losses and pain. They finally had something to look forward to yet when they glanced over their shoulder, here comes the remaining might of Egypt. Chariots, horses and riders. The tanks and skilled combatants that would soon crash into their seemingly gaunt company with primitive weaponry. The people may have gone out ‘armed’ they may have perceived they were prepared to fight, but when they saw what hunted them they realized they were not ready.
Sh’mot 14; 5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; 7 and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out רוּםboldly . 9 Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. 10 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord.
Once again we find issue within the heart of Phar’oh and his people. God once said, ‘I will send upon their hearts all the plagues of Egypt’ which was in order to give them continual chances for repentance. He strengthened the heart of Phar’oh at poignant times so that ‘it be known that I am God and there is no other’, Phar’oh hardening his own heart and feeds his own honor, enlarging his pride and ego to the detriment of the crumbling kingdom. Now we can look and see the heart is again the issue. There is different term for what is ‘happening’ to the heart. Let us take a look at the various meanings in context to try to understand what hafak means. It seems that in many of these cases we see that there is something in a certain state and then it is transformed. It was one thing and becomes another. It is changed. In this case, the change of heart will bode very very badly for the Israelites.
#2015 (v) hafak הָפַךְ – to turn back, to flee, to turn, convert, to change,be overthrown,turn oneself, pervert.
- B’reshit 3:24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
- B’reshit 19:21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.
- B’reshit 19:25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
- Sh’mot 7:15 “Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent.
- Sh’mot 10:19 So the LORD shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.
- Vayikra 13:16 “Or if the raw flesh turns again and is changed to white, then he shall come to the priest…
- Devarim 23:5 “Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.
There are three occasions that come in to mind where we see a person of some ‘status’ who would have had servants or attendants to do the task of saddling one’s beast. These occasions are notable each in their own context for different purposeful reasons. The first being Avraham, who although he was charged with what would be the most difficult task of his life (to offer Yitsach as an offering at the Akeidah),
he didn’t hesitate and he rose early saddling his own donkey to fulfill the word of the Lord.
B’reshit 22;2 He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went וַיֵּלֶךְ to the place of which God had told him.
Another parallel passage is when Balaam, having been flattered and bribed with riches in order that he would curse the Children of Israel, rises early and saddles his own donkey. This time, although God had allowed him to go (for He would use even him as a vessel for blessing and praise over His people) He saw the intent of Balaam’s heart and waylay’s his journey.
- Bemidbar 22; 20 God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do.” 21 So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey and went with the leaders of Moab. 22 But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him.
While Avraham was fervent to do the will of Hashem despite how heart wrenching it would be for him, and Balaam was anxious to curse the people of Israel despite God’s warnings, we now see Phar’oh…swiftly assembling his people, his commanders, his armies, and mustering his own chariot himself to go about the business he began once a time ago. The extermination of a people who he had attempted to lower in the mind of his nation to be subhuman. To the effect that civilians were willing to cast infants into the river Nile to perish. Now Phar’oh sets out to finish the job, and is vehement to do so.
- Sh’mot 14; 6 So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; 7 and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel
- Tehillim 22; 1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. 2 O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest. 3 Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 4 In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. 5 To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed.
When we, in our lives, leave our personal Egypt’s (de-throning our own personal Pharaoh’s) there is often an immediate attack that comes in the wake of a liberation from challenge, sin, strife. Have you ever noticed when one feels like they are making strides to do what is just according to Hashem’s will as delineated by His word, applied through His spirit… things tend to get worse before they get better? This is the experience the people of Israel are facing as they stand at the threshold of the Sea of Reeds with the armies of Mitsrayim at their heels. It seems, that there is this heightened challenge in order that we can learn how to stop (for there is no where else to go), stand still (for there is nothing in our power to do at that point), rely on Hashem (calling out in fear, in doubt, in frustration, in desperation is O-K- as long as it is pointed to God), trust in Hashem (the greatest test of our trust in God surfaces when things are above and beyond reason), and watch ( letting go of control, placing our situation in His hand, and witnessing what He will manifest for us) and learn (to glean from all things, what God is attempting to teach us, to prove to our hearts through ALL things.) We don’t walk through the split walls of water on dry ground, until there is an imminent attack. He can’t split the sea for us until we stand still.
And we can not sing in safety on the other side until we step out in trust.
John 16; 32 Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Sh’mot 14;10 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord.
11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” 15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 16 As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.
How would you feel if you were there at the Sea? After all you had been through and all you had seen. Watching the cloud of God leading and then becoming your rear guard. Being so close to your enemy and yet knowing that all that stood between their fury and your demise was the God of your Fathers, the God with Mastery over all forces of Creation you were experiencing in a direct way. As many films depict, Moshe elevates his staff and the waters are drastically and immediately parted. This is not what the texts tells us. This miracle happened slowly and took all night. God blew with His wind (ruach), imagine you were there just watching it slowly part, seeing the walls of water form, witnessing the pathway to freedom emerge as dry earth. What would you be thinking? Would you be apprehensive about entering on this path and walking, again, into the unknown? I believe this is precisely why Hashem took all night to show the people their way. They surely must have known, “Ok- we’re meant to go in THERE.” They certainly needed time to take it in, to muster up the courage, to consider their trust and decide to make their move. In life, there are miracles around us all the time. They may not be immediate miracles, sometimes God takes His time in order to prepare us. Sometimes He wants us to really consider our trust and faith in Him. He is, to my knowledge, not a God Who desires blind hapless obedience. Just as His cloud advanced, so will His Spirit (ruach) in your life. When it moves as our guide will we be willing to follow?
Will we be willing to walk?
Sh’mot 14:18 “Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.” 19 The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.
Sh’mot 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept וַיֹּולֶךְ the sea back by a strong east wind בְּר֨וּחַ all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
#1980 (v) halak הָלַךְ – to go, to walk, to go through, to bring, to go after, to follow, to be made to go, to destroy perish, to live in truth and uprightness.
- B’reshit 3:8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
- B’reshit 8:3…and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased.
- B’reshit 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram,“ Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; ….4 So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
There are certain echoes here from creation, and recreation. We have discussed the concept of God’s plan A being that man live with Him in the perfect Garden He planted and placed him in to guard. With the woman He gave him to guard. Plan B, so to speak, was post flood and Noach a man who was righteous in his generation.
Chaotic floodwaters and then dry land appears, God commands and they step forth walking off of the teivah (ark) into the new world. The first things discussed? Acknowledgment of the seasons, what you may eat (kill and eat, to be sated in acquisition) and how to consecrate the firstborn of man and flock to God, restrictions and morality among men. We discussed how God’s plan A was a universal one, then it focused in on one family (Noach and his sons), finally the focus shifts to one man who will be the bearer of His truths into the recreated world. We have followed Avraham’s family through their struggles and successes to another Teivah containing yet another ‘savior’ to find rest for his people, Moshe…the one Hebrew boy who was preserved from the waters of the Nile. His mission will be to lead his people to eretz Yisrael where they would build the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) where, throughout time, peoples from all over the world would come at the Lord’s appointed Feasts to offer worship to Him. A place shining forth in the world as the seat of righteous justice, where words of the Torah- teaching & instruction of Hashem will go forth. So, leaving Egypt God again gives His people commands regarding acknowledgment of the seasons (this shall be for you the beginning of months, rosh chodesh ), what to eat ( the Pesach,matzah, marror and manna which teaches us about Sabbath and how to be sated in acquisition) and how to consecrate the firstborn of man and flock to God ( you will remember that you were redeemed and the firstborn of Egypt perished), restrictions and morality among men ( binding my Torah on your arm, held to the heart and between your eyes, to base all decisions and actions upon my will over these two ‘seats’ of choice and consequence). They stand at the shores of the sea and now witness God commanding the water as He once called out to creation (there is night and then day and the waters are called to go forth), as He once commanded the floodwaters and then dry land appeared, as He once called to Avraham avinu to step out and make a “leap of faith” into the unknown. Again there is a separation between light and darkness, the pillar of fire is light for the Hebrews while the Egyptians, not permitted to overstep His set boundary, are confounded in darkness (also echoing from the plagues in Egypt). Now His redeemed nation is told :Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.
This is a new step for a ‘new’ journey.
# 5265 (v) nasa נָסַע – to remove a camp, to break up, to remove, to depart, to migrate, to journey, to bend a bow.
- B’reshit 12:9 Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev.
- B’reshit 33:17 Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock; therefore the place is named Succoth.
- B’reshit 37:17 Then the man said, “They have moved from here; for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
- B’reshit 46:1 So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
Isa. 26;1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; He sets up walls and ramparts for security. 2 “Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that remains אֱמֻנִֽים * faithful . 3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,because he trusts in You. 4 “Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. 5 “For He has brought low those who dwell on high, the unassailable city; He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He casts it to the dust. 6 “The foot will trample it, the feet of the afflicted, the steps of the helpless.” 7 The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level. 8 Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls. 9 At night my soul longs for You, indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; for when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
The Hebrew word for song is שִׁיר (“sheer”). The Shabbat of Be’shalach בְּשַׁלַּח (when he sent forth) is known as Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song. This parashah contains the Song of the Sea which Moshe sings. While there are several songs in the bible the text of this song is inscribed in the Hebrew of a Torah scroll to look like two columns (the water) with one in between (the people passing through the walls of water on dry land).
There is a song of Moshe found in Deuteronomy 32 which is another שִׁיר mentioned in the book of Revelation.
It is fascinating too that there is a midrash which teaches that there appeared 12 channels, according to each tribe and each tribe passed through the waters in their own channel. This too hearkens to Revelation and the 12 gates into the Holy Habitation of Hashem.
Revelation 21;10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11shining with the glory of God. Its radiance was like a most precious jewel, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12The city had a great and high wall with twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve angels at the gates.
Revelation 15; 1Then I saw another great and marvelous sign in heaven: seven angels with the seven final plagues, with which the wrath of God will be completed. 2And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, beside which stood those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name. They were holding harps from God, 3 and they sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and wonderful are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations! 4Who will not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.”
אֲנַ֫חְנוּ נִקְרָא סֵ֫פֶר שְׁמוֹת פֶּרֶק יה פָּסוּק א – כא
Sh’mot 15; 11“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
awesome in praises, working wonders? Mi kamocha ba’alim Hashem, Mi kamocha ne’adar bakodesh, norah tehilliot, oseh feleh.
This portion of the שירת הים, Shirat HaYam, also known as Az Yashir Moshe is a daily part of the “set time” prayers. Every single day observant Jewish people recall the salvation of the Lord.
Every day, let us try to take just a moment to marvel at God’s salvation, recreation, provision and protection, His separation- distinction for us… at least one conscious minute a day to increase our awe of Hashem, and how like with this and the Lamb’s song He will tie all things together before our very eyes.
There is much to be said about the following section. The three day journey God had charged Moshe to request of Pharaoh that they may worship Him…and here the people are, a three day journey into the wilderness, without water (it doesn’t say that they thirsted, they just found no water). The water was undrinkable, because they (the people) were bitter. The people grumble to Moshe, and HE cries out to the Lord, Who remedies their concern. The people are not going through the proper channels. They are ‘not looking up’. The sure cure for bitterness, the rectification of the sin at the Tree in the garden, is the sweetness of Torah in our mouths. The Torah is likened to a “Tree of Life” and in many ways we can see that God’s standard for a set apart people and all the lessons herein feel’s life changing when one receives it from the heart, these words and their constructor…that glimpse into His nature and design become our desire…like Chavah’s desire for the fruit, rectified. Feeling bitter, angry, sad, guilty, ashamed, anxious? Drink of the water sweetened by the tree, pray to Hashem, ask for His Spirit to teach you His word.
#3885 (v) Luwn לוּן- to lodge, to tarry, to dwell, to show oneself obstinate, to be stubborn, to murmur, to complain. (Some occurrences for Luwn to show varying usage in context)
- B’reshit 24:23 and said, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?”
- B’reshit 28:11 He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place.
- Sh’mot 23:18 “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning.
- Devarim 16:4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificed the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.
It has been discussed that the bitterness of Egypt had attached itself to the people, this bitterness took up residency in some of their hearts and would manifest in complaining, dissatisfaction, rebellion, betrayal, idolatry and attempts at usurpation. This Luwn- murmuring became almost a way of life for some of them. Yirmeyahu, in a passage with several links to the Exodus and wilderness journey, explains that there is still evil the people must be cleansed of. This heart cleansing may have to come about through discipline and pain. The naviy expresses the concept of bad (ra- evil) thoughts making a lodging and STAYING within us. It is often our own bitterness which defiles and hinders God’s good plans for us.
Yirmeyahu 4; 11 In that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, “A scorching wind from the bare heights in the wilderness in the direction of the daughter of My people—not to winnow and not to cleanse, 12a wind too strong for this—will come at My command; now I will also pronounce judgments against them.13“Behold, he goes up like clouds, and his chariots like the whirlwind; His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are ruined!”14 Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem, that you may be saved. How long will your wicked thoughts lodge within you?15 For a voice declares from Dan, and proclaims wickedness from Mount Ephraim. 16“Report it to the nations, now! Proclaim over Jerusalem, ‘Besiegers come from a far country, and lift their voices against the cities of Judah. 17‘Like watchmen of a field they are against her round about, because she has rebelled against Me,’ declares the LORD. 18“Your ways and your deeds have brought these things to you. This is your evil. How bitter! How it has touched your heart!”
Sh’mot 15; 22Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24So the people grumbled (luwn) at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. 26And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.” 27Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters.
I think there is another lesson inside this section, if the people had only been able to hold off the complaining just a little while longer, look where they would have arrived? A place with 12 springs, abundant water, fruit trees, and satisfaction. I know I have witnessed in my own life a case where if I only would have trusted and held on just a little longer, things would have ‘fallen into place’ and certainly did not require the enormity of my worry, stress, anxiety, fear. The 12 springs of water are said to represent the 12 tribes of Israel, the 70 palms are the 70 nations who drink, prosper, and benefit directly through the waters (God bestowed promises and blessings) of Israel. The italicized section is the start of God explaining that He is directly engaging the people in order to prove their love, trust, devotion to Him. He will be giving them the revelation of His Divine order at Sinai, but first He reminds them of the standards their fathers knew. The fact that the Torah states : I won’t do to you like I did to Egypt (with the condition that they walk in His ways)… teaches us that this may have been a genuine fear of theirs. When they experienced the ‘befouled’ water and again a staff (tree) in Moshe’s hand made the waters change, perhaps they wondered if they could be on the receiving end of such plagues as they saw in Egypt. But God showed them, ‘just as I healed the waters, I am going to heal you too.’ Keep always in mind and heart what the people have endured and the depth of their trauma.
B’reshit 16; 1 … on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt. 2 The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 7….for He hears your grumblings against the Lord; and what are we, that you grumble against us?”8…for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”
#8519 (Fem. n) t’luwna תְּלוּנָת – murmuring, complaining. (Complete list of Tanakh occurrences:)
- Sh’mot 16:7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD; for that he heareth your murmurings against the LORD: and what are we, that ye murmur (luwn) against us? 8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD. 9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings. 12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
- Bemidbar 14:27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
- Bemidbar 17:5 And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.
- Bemidbar 17:10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.
- Sh’mot 16; 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord,…
On a symbolic level, this arrangement teaches us an important aspect of the Shabbat experience. Throughout the rest of the week, it is expected that each day we will find yesterday’s food “spoiled,” that we will feel discontented with the material assets we had accumulated until then. This is not to say we may feel ungrateful, but rather that we are entitled to desire more and to go out to try obtaining what we desire. Just as leftover manna was spoiled the next morning, likewise, we are entitled each morning to look at what we have as unsatisfactory, and thus seek to increase our assets. On Shabbat, however, we may not look at anything in our lives as “spoiled.” On this day, we look at everything we have as perfect, as precisely what we need and what we want. As Moshe tells Benei Yisrael in Parashat Beshalach, “Each man shall remain in his place; no man shall leave his place on the day of Shabbat” (16:29). On Shabbat, we have nowhere to go, because everything we want is right here with us. Whereas during the week we do not feel content with what we’ve been given, on Shabbat we are to feel that all our needs are cared for, that we have no reason to search or work for more. Just as God created for six days, but on the seventh He saw that everything was “very good” (B’reishit 1:31), we, too, work restlessly during the week but then stop on Shabbat, reflecting on how “very good” our lives are, on how the “manna” given to us the previous days is still perfect, and sufficient for meeting all our needs. mizrachi.org
Matthew 6; 7And when you pray, do not babble on like pagans, for they think that by their many words they will be heard. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 So then, this is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread, 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
אֲנַ֫חְנוּ נִקְרָא סֵ֫פֶר שְׁמוֹת פֶּרֶק יו פָּסוּק ט- כא
Sh’mot 16; 9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumblings.’” 10 It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.
This text below seems to explain that although Moshe was very clear regarding the connection between observing the Sabbath rest and the Manna, the people didn’t get it. They still sought to ‘acquire’ and ‘provide’ for themselves on that seventh Holy day and what they ended up thinking they were gaining actually became rotten and bug infested. Thus, Moshe has to explicitly bind the two and explain “THIS is what the Lord meant!” Here we find some of the clearest expressions from biblical text as to how to ‘observe’ the Holy Sabbath. ‘Bake what you will bake, boil what you will boil’ – work, work hard, prepare, prepare extensively and do all this preparation with the Sabbath of the Lord in mind. When that preparation is complete, stop. Cease. Rest. My personal all important question regarding to the inquiry ‘should I do this on shabbat?’ is : CAN IT WAIT? If someone needs medical attention, or something is broken and needs to be cleaned up, if someone needs assistance you can provide, Yeshua said it is permitted to do ‘good’ on the Sabbath. The next part of Sabbath observance is to “stay in your place”. The halakah of the oral tradition states that this means you are not to travel farther than a certain distance, it is forbidden to drive, etc. I think there are many lessons we can learn from this commandment to ‘stay in your place’. This could be the encouragement to stay together with your family, in the mini Temple which is our homes, delighting in all that God has made for us in a personal way. It hearkens back to that Passover meal, where no one was to leave their dwellings in Goshen, this was the first time they were allowed to remain, to rest, to be….without having to look over their shoulder, without having to be striving, building, making, accomplishing (serving someone else). I believe this can also mean- you have worked to become, to make, to build everything that you ‘are’ this week. Once the Shabbat arrives there should be a break from working for that big promotion, a break from wondering if I can climb a little higher in accomplishment for class, a break from making the monies which will get me a better car or house or wardrobe,..so that I can be elevated from MY PLACE. Shabbat arrives to teach us that this week is over, where I am RIGHT NOW is the place that God has brought me. Observing Shabbat and staying in my place is one way I can say, I am satisfied with what I have been given. I know there is a time for acquisition and gain, even for the best reasons and causes, but for now…in this place, I trust Hashem to provide that chance for me. For now I can just stay in this place with Him and be content. The people didn’t stay put, they went out to find what they thought they needed and it was not there. Then God asks the vital question, in direct connection to seeking out the manna (physical, material gain) and resting on Shabbat. How long will you
Sh’mot 16; 22 Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant (see verse 4): Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”
27 It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions? 29 See, the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
So why is it that manna, the Sabbath and faith/trust in Hashem are such a big “criterion” for proving and testing the people? Why is this the way Hashem will show the hearts of His newly freed children, those He is taking as His Bride? Because it’s not easy. It’s not ‘logical’. Why does He ask those whose time was never their own, whose days blended together into one long throb of activity and now…they have the freedom to choose how and to Whom they will allot their obedience (including the expenditure of time)…why does He ask them to observe this Manna discipline and Sabbath sanctification? Because they can. If they are willing they are now free to crown God as King over every aspect of their lives. They are no longer subjugated by a cruel master, they are the children of a righteous Creator who set this example for them. Shabbat began at creation. God didn’t need a rest, but He pointed toward a time when we would rest with Him while in this world, rest our minds bodies and spirits in Him at His appointed time. Shabbat also points to the eventual endless rest we will have for eternity with Him. A ‘day that is all Shabbat’.
Sh’mot 14:31 When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.
#539 (v) aman אָמַן – to be stayed up, to bear in the arms, to be founded, firm, stable, firm, upright, faithful, trustworthy,sure, to trust confide in, to believe, to stand firm, still. (Some examples:)
- B’reshit 15:6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
- B’reshit 45:26 They told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” But he was stunned, for he did not believe them.
- Sh’mot 4:1 Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’”
- Sh’mot 4:31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
#529 (Masc. N) emuwn אֵמוּן – faithfulness. (occurs only once in Torah * four total in Tanakh)
Devarim 32:20 “Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be;
For they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness.
#530 (Fem.N) emuwnah אֱמוּנָה – firmness, security, faithfulness. (Only two occurrences in Torah)
- Sh’mot 17:12 But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.
- Devarim 32:4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.
The Sages relate the root of the Hebrew Emunah (Faith) with that of Manna :
Sh’mot 16:15 When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know (yada) what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.
(from the root Mah מָה #4100, interrogative pronoun- what? how? in what manner? for what? why?)
# 4478 (masc. n) Man מָן – literally a whatness (so to speak), i.e. manna (so called from the question about it):—manna. “ What is it?” (complete list of occurrences:)
- Sh’mot 16:15When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.
- Sh’mot 16:31The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.
- Sh’mot16:33 Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.”
- Sh’mot 16:35 The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.
- Bemidbar 11:6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” 7 Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium…. 9 When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.
- Devarim 8:3 “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
- Devarim 8:16 “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.
- Y’hoshua 5:12 The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.
- Nehemiah 9:20 “You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and You gave them water for their thirst.
- Tehillim 78:24 He rained down manna upon them to eat and gave them food from heaven.
What is the Manna teaching me? “Trust Me”. God will provide. Shabbat is a test a faith. Manna comes from Heaven, they’re looking at Moshe and Aaron, the people need to learn how to ‘look up’! So do we. All our provision, everything we need in every situation will be found from Heaven where the Manna comes from. Where the Shabbat came from. Where the Torah came from. Where Salvation comes from. Our help, our sustenance, our provision- physical and spiritual comes from above. What is manna? Manna is our worry about tomorrow, “go out and find!” Manna and Shabbat come to say “all you need is what you’ve been given today, God will take care of you tomorrow. If you’re gathering on shabbat you wont be successful, ‘it rots’. The concepts we are looking at this Parasha all have to do with reliance. The people were taught reliance at the Sea, taught reliance with the Manna, reliance with Shabbat. Shabbat is a glimpse also into the garden of Adam ha rishon and Chavah. Is what they were given enough? For them it was not, the desire drove them to grasp at more. On Shabbat we taste what they once had. Shalom in Hashem- freedom from anxiety. God providing everything they could need or want. We might ask ourselves on Shabbat, is what I have obtained enough? Will I pass the test of faith and trust that God will provide. Shabbat allows us our physical pleasures, we eat, we drink, we relax, we sing, we delight….but the physical pleasure is suffused with the pleasure we have in delighting with God. The delight that comes when we KNOW that God is delighting in us. Shabbat also tells God: “I love You so much that what You love is important to me, what’s important to You is sacred to me….”
Sh’mot 16; 32 Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33 Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the Testimony, to be kept. 35 The sons of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate the manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.
Safeguarding in the Ark, the jar of manna, to remind you- even when you enter the Land of Israel, even when everything seems secure and you are actively working to produce and build up that land, still I AM the one who provides. Although delivered from the desire of Egypt, they were still captive to their own hungry, thirsty, and rebellious souls. This is always the test of a disciple of Yeshua. The Ruach will lead a disciple where his soul does not wish to go, and at first his soul will complain, grumble, rebel, dig in, fight the wrong battles with the wrong people, and make up “spiritual” reasons not to obey. …..As the ashes of Egypt and boils were open testimony about rebellion against Hashem, the Word of God either becomes food for our souls, or it remains hidden, a testimony against us.
#4931 (Masc. N) mishmeret מִשְׁמֶרֶת – custody, guard, a keeping, observance, that which is observed, a law, rite.
The blessings of the entire world, hinge upon the fact that Avraham and his descendants- this family that God saw fit to enlist as the torch bearers of His light into the world (that all might come to the knowledge of Him), will guard and observe His Torah- instructions, teaching, laws, statutes, designs.
B’reshit 26:4 “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5 because Abraham obeyed Me and kept (Shamar) My charge (Mishmeret), My commandments (Mitsvot), My statutes (chukot) and My laws (Torah).”
#8104 (v) shamar שָׁמַר -to keep watch, to guard, to keep safe, to preserve, to observe, to attend, to honor, to beware, to worship, to take heed to oneself.
I believe it would be incredibly useful to us to take into account the specific ‘things’ God commands His people to GUARD. This means we value them, study them, take note of them, uphold them as best we can, furnish them with the meaning they contain by allowing the commandments to become moral imperatives for our lives. Because we were slaves, but now we are free!
Ideally we would be in the garden, like Adam, when he was charged to guard it…but man fell, and the focus of the plan ‘shifted’, and now we too have been given guardianship of His eternal word and its contents. Not to read as if it were the daily paper, but to KNOW (yada)
as the covenant people of a promise keeping God.
B’reshit 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
Sh’mot 12:17 ‘You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. 24 “And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25 “When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite.
Sh’mot 16:28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?
Sh’mot 31:16 ‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’
Tehillim 37 ; 16 Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked.17 For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous.18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever.19 They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance. 20 But the wicked will perish;and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures,they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. 21 The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. 22 For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be cut off. 23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. 24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. 25 I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. 26 All day long he is gracious and lends,and his descendants are a blessing. 27 Depart from evil and do good, so you will abide forever. 28 For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. 29 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. 31 The Torah תּוֹרַ֣ת of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. 32 The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. 33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. 34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
However insurmountable your troubles seem, wherever you find yourself anxious or in want, if ever you feel despair…look up! Here is where your help will come, your help is from Hashem. Pursue all that you feel compelled to accomplish, strive for all you feel led to reach out toward but remember that it all rests in the Hands of Hashem and at the appointed time He desires to refresh you, in a place where just You and He- are enough. Where everything else can wait, where nothing else is as important. I pray that peace come to you, overtake you and that you will be equipped through your journey with the emunah which is strong enough to trust that tomorrow is a better day, because Hashem is looking over it. Guarding it on your behalf.
Resources: See Homepage and My Resources for all the links I used to formulate this entry.