Beshalah

Tu Bishvat!

The detour Israel had to take after leaving Egypt and heading for the promised land is a great teaching of how seeming distracting and unplanned circumstances can be plan A. The straight route would have lead Israel right into the hands of one of our worst enemies, the Plishtim, Philistines. Israel is attacked by the troops of Amalek, the descendant of Esav (Esau) in this parashat Beshalach. The attack is deadly, as always. The help of HASHEM is needed as always. And Israel wins the victory as always. Always has. Always will.

Also the detour kept us further away from Egypt, our worst nightmare, but also a sweet seductive place once we were at unknown terrain. And so Israel would enter the promised land from the east bank of the river Jordan, the area now called the land of Jordan. It is in this week’s Torah portion that we find the Song by the Sea which Moshe composed. It talks about the vengeance of HASHEM, shattering His opponents and bringing terror to Israel’s enemies the Philistines and Edom, and His kindness toward the Jewish people.

This same song is mentioned in the New Testament, in the book of Revelation where it is mentioned as to be sung again. This shows that the New Testament continues the deliverance of Israel which began at Yetziat Mitzraim, the exodus from Egypt at Pesach. And so the New Testament is a collection of Jewish books. The song of the Torah observant Moshe will be sung around the throne of HASHEM. This shows that being Torah observant will lead one to the throne of eternal life.

The Song by the Sea is indeed called: song, shira. The word comes from the verb shur meaning to travel and also meaning to behold or see. That is what the song does: it helps the traveler who travels with HASHEM on his side to see clearly what HASHEM does, for him personally and for the good of Israel. People are complex. Due to so many preconceived biases we often find it hard to see the big picture. If things do not go our way immediately, we think they must be wrong.

It is like we said in the start of this study: the detour Israel had to take after leaving Egypt and heading for the promised land is a great teaching of how seeming distracting and unplanned circumstances can be plan A. In the moment the Jews saw the splitting of the sea everything became crystal clear to them. Our bitter enslavement in Egypt was not in vain. When this miracle happened we saw the spiritual and literal harmony of HASHEM.

Like we will have to remember the day we had to leave Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:3) we will have to remember what Amalek did to us (Deuteronomy 25:17). These are two of the six Zechirot, important things to remember by G-d’s command. At the same time the addicting and idolatrous spirit of Egypt will have to leave us, like Israel had a hard time not to return to the land and the house of slavery. And also the devastating and oppressing spirit of Amalek will have to leave us so that we will be untouchable by it. May it be so.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehilla of Beth Yeshua,
Amsterdam, Holland