בְּשַׁלַּח
B’shelach / When He Let Go
Exodus 13:17-17:16
HafTorah Judges 4:4-5:31            
Brit Chadasha 6:22-40

   Crossing Over…

     B’shelach opens with an important message that we will more fully understand at the end of the parsha: ‘For God did not lead them by the way of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” Exodus 13:17.
     Pharoah did ‘let go’. He surrendered – for a moment.  Then he changed his choice and  pursued the Israelites. In Exodus 14:1-4 ‘Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’ Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.’
    God had a remarkable plan; He made Pharoah think the Israelites were ‘bewildered’ and then He hardened Pharoah’s heart once more. The result was so that God would gain the honor. The rest of chapter 14 shows the fear that the Israelites had towards the great army of Pharaoh, and the parting of the Red Sea.  It ends with the people of God realizing the great work that God had done for them and their fear/awe is transposed from Pharoah to God. Exodus 14:30-31 ‘So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.’   
    Exodus 15 contains the powerful songs of Moshe and Miriam about the defeat of the Pharoah’s army and the Divine and miraculous power of God. And yet it doesn’t take long however for the Israelites to long for the comforts of Egypt once again. Exodus 15:23-25 ‘Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.’
      God turns the waters sweet by having Moshe cast a tree into the waters and then He tests them: ‘There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26. The importance of a tree and water is followed up in the next verse.
     Exodus 15:27 ’Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.’
     Twelve to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and trees are used to represent life. But what about the bitter water? Based on the grammar of the verse, the Ba’al Shem Tov explains that the water was not actually bitter, it only tasted that way because the people themselves were bitter. After experiencing the miraculous redemption at the Reed Sea, they were shocked to find themselves without fresh water to drink. Perhaps they expected that the miracles they experienced in Egypt and at the Reed Sea would never end. Water always illudes to the Living Torah which is the Living Waters so by throwing a tree into these bitter waters, Moses was trying to show them that by immersing themselves in the wellsprings of God’s instructions, they would realize the life from the life-giving waters.
     The seventy date palm trees represent the 70 elders and can further symbolize the seventy "faces" or aspects of Torah that are revealed to those who eat of its fruit. Seventy is also the numerical value of the word (secret/sod), PaRDeS of the Torah. The date palm also symbolizes the tzaddik, the righteous person, of whom it is said in Psalm 92:13 "The righteous like the date palm will flourish.’ And deep inside their very beings, every Hebrew has a spark of the tzaddik as the prophet Isaiah states in Isaiah 60:21: "Your people are all righteous, they shall inherit the land forever.”
     In Exodus 16 God sustains the Israelites with manna and quail with an important message in Exodus 16:4. The English transliteration is read: ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.’  Law is the English word but the Hebrew wording is: B’Torot ti  בְּתֽוֹרָתִ֖י  ‘In My Teachings’.
    
 Right after this declaration from God, Moshe makes an interesting point in Exodus 16:7-8. ‘And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord; for He hears your complaints against the Lord. But what are we, that you complain against us?” Also Moses said, “This shall be seen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.”
     The people assume that their complaints are against Moshe, for that is who they attack- but Moshe makes it quite clear that their complaints are against the God that feeds them. Can this be a lesson for us?
     In Exodus 17 life sustaining water comes from The Rock. Exodus 17:5-7And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.’
     B’shelach closes the battle ‘Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.’ Exodus 17:8. And the battle is won but is defeated, Exodus 17:14-16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, [f]The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
    This returns us back to the beginning of this parsha. Exodus 13:17 ‘‘For God did not lead them by the way of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.’  The children of God had to cross over, to move between the waves of the Red Sea, to experience miracles and fear. To be in the presence of God. They had to commit. It is like that with us, now?
     What is the way that we show God we have truly crossed over? The most important step is for us to cross over to Sabbath.  Anyone can participate in a Pesach, build a sukkot or change their diet.  But to actually cross over to Sabbath is The Step.  When one crosses from Sunday to Shabbat, they are making a statement – I am entering into God’s Covenant.  It is the sign between God and His people. If we declare that we are His people and His children and attest to creation then should we disregard the Sabbath?
     Exodus 31:12-17 ‘And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’
     1 John 3:1-6 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.’



בְּשַׁלַּח
B’shalach / When He Let Go

Exodus 13:17-17:16
hafTorah Portion Judges 4:4-5:31
John 6:22-40

     This Torah portion is also known as the Sabbath of Song; Shabbat Shirah due to Exodus 15:1-21 ‘Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted. Both horse and driver He has hurled into the sea. “The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name…’Exodus 15:1-3.  The chapter continues with exalting praise to Elohim. Miriam begins her song in Exodus 15:20-21 ‘Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted. Both horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.”
     These songs of great praise are sandwiched between the actual Exodus; complete with excitement, fear, the parting of the sea and victory of escaping the enemy; and the beginning of other miracles coupled with murmuring -the waters of Marah, mana, quail, and water from the rock.
     Throughout Beshalach we see the reasoning behind every single instruction and thought of Elohim.  For instance; God did not lead the people to the Promised Land by the coastal route, which would have been more direct.  It was a main thoroughfare being a main path from Egypt where the Egyptians had established a number of forts along the way. Elohim knew that His people living the life of bondage for hundreds of years would be weak and terrified in the face of an enemy.  However interesting that for His people, the alternative route they took was potentially even more traumatic. God led them around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The result was that the Israelites, when they saw the Egyptian chariots pursuing them in the distance, had nowhere to go. They were terrified. They were not spared the fear of war. Why the Red Sea? Looking at the face of it, it seems it would be the worst of all possible routes.
    The motivation for everything is: ‘And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” Exodus 14:4.  As the children of Israel wait terrified for the Egyptian army to pursue and destroy them, Moses answered the people in Exodus 14:13-14, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (wait to do what He says).
     The Exodus was not only a release of God’s people from bondage into freedom to worship Him, but an opportunity for God to erase the Egyptians and their arrogance. In His Divine Wisdom, He used the very arrogance of the Egyptians to confuse them. Exodus 14:1-4 reveals this: ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.’
      This Torah portion is a great reminder to us to trust in Abba, even though we do not understand.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ‘“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’
Proverbs 3:5-7 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.’
    Beshalach is a great lesson in obeying the voice of Abba even when our flesh wants to turn the other way. We know obeying brings blessings to us and our household, and we know that God’s desires our obedience out of love.
1 Samuel 15:22 “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”
Genesis 22:18 “…and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
Isaiah 1:19 “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”
    Beshalach is also a great reminder that God fights the battles with us, for us, for His glory.
Exodus 14:4 ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
2 Chronicles 20:17 ‘You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
Deuteronomy 20:4 ‘For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’
Deuteronomy 3:22 ‘You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’
Isaiah 40:31 ‘But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.’
Psalm 34:17 ‘When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.’
Deuteronomy 1:30 ‘The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes…’
     Beshalach is also a great reminder of shalom in Elohim.
John 16:13 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
Psalm 4:8 ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.’

May you be blessed as you study Beshalach!

 

בְּשַׁלַּח
B’Shelach / When He Let Go
Exodus 13:17-17:16
HafTorah Portion
Brit Chadasha

When Fear Displaces Faith…
     Fear is a powerful emotion, an emotion that renders us immobile.  Fear changes our perception, makes us doubt ourselves, the plan and then question and doubt God, even lashing out at Him.
     In this Torah portion, fear grips the Israelites turning their joy of freedom into anxiety and anger towards Moshe and Elohim.
     Exodus 14:10-14 ‘ And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
    God’s answer: ‘ And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 15:15-18.
      Basically, what God is saying: “Get up and get going.  Do not fear for I am with you and this will once again bring honor to Me.”
    Is there glory given to God when we are stagnant and locked in fear?  Is there any glory to God when we worry about the events in our lives?  Where is the honor and glory when we complain and whine and plead to move backwards instead of moving forward?
    However, there is great honor- kavod - and glory to God when we rise to the occasion and press on.  It is when we overcome the situation, with Elohim and because of Elohim that glory bestows Adonai.
     Isaiah 41:10 ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
     Joshua 1:9 ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’
     Psalm 118:6 ‘The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’
     Proverbs 29:25 ‘Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.’   
     2 Timothy 1:7 ‘ For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.’
     Psalm 27:1 ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
     The first mention of fear in the Bible is just after Adam and Eve sinned.  As God came looking for them in the garden they hid themselves because ‘they were afraid’.  Genesis 3:10.
  
Abraham was afraid to say that Sarah was his wife, Genesis 26:7-9. Saul was afraid in 1 Samuel 28:5-7. Elisha feared Jezebel, 1 Kings19:3.  Jonah and the men were afraid, Jonah 1:10.
     Through out Scriptures we can find that there are really only three types of fear. The first type of fear is of earthly troubles and men- which is considered a sin. The second fear is of the Lord which denotes our reverence and love for Him.  Fear and awe are found in the same Hebrew word: Yirah and according to Proverbs 1:7 – ‘The fear – Yirah - of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ The third kind of fear is the fear that we should feel to keep us from sin. That is found in 1 Timothy 5:20.   And what is sin? Lawlessness/Torahlessness. 
     1 John 3:4-9 states exactly what sin is:  ‘Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in Him; and He cannot sin, because He has been born of God.’
    This is a powerful set of Scriptures.  First it clarifies without a doubt what is sin: living a life outside of the instructions of God.  Second, these verses describe the ‘why’ Yeshua, the Living Word was made manifest: to take away our sins as we walk in His way, the Torah, which is the opposite of sin.  1John 3 continues with the explanation that the person who abides in the Son Of God, Yeshua, the Light of the World, the Living Torah ‘does not sin’. This verse also says that if we ‘practice’ righteousness.  Not that we are suddenly righteous.  If we know the entire Truth and we walk outside or contrary to the Torah, the teachings and instructions of Adonai are we truly abiding in the Messiah?
     If we submit our lives to The Living Torah, we truly abide in Yeshua.

   Baruch Hashem!