Shabbat Shalom Dear Readers Parshat Beshalach 5776

January 22, 2016

 

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This week, candle lighting, which is 18 minutes before sunset, will be at 4:53 PM in Brooklyn,NY. Chabad.org has times for your locality on their web site. You can also find articles dealing with the Torah portion, and other matters of Jewish interest.Aish.com also has both multimedia items for during the week, as well as articles that can be printed out for reading on Shabbat.

This week, Chabad.org has an article about the value of money, of having it and losing it, of having it and finding that other things are more important. In a sense, money could be compared to a pair of pants or a loudspeaker. The pants can’t walk anyplace by themselves, and you can’t go anyplace without pants. A loudspeaker can extend the reach of your voice, but you still have to speak in order for it to make any sound. And if you yell nonsense into the loudspeaker, it will simply mean that more people will hear nonsense.

Likewise, money can be a means to accomplish good things or bad things. It’s all up to the owner of the money whether it is “smart” money or not.

Aish.com has an article with the title “Discovering I May Not Be Jewish“. In the article, a man who identified as being Jewish and was drawn to Judaism found that he might not be Jewish according to Jewish law. Judaism has aspects of nationality as well as religion. Just as there are born citizens and naturalised citizens, there are born Jews and converts to Judaism. This article explores these issues with a first hand account of a man who chose conversion to address ambiguities about his ancestry.

This Sunday night and Monday (by day) is the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is popularly known as Tu B’Shvat.It is the New Year of trees. the age of trees is counted from that day, rather than the Rosh Hashanah. Chabad.org has an article about this holiday, which is commemorated by eating fruits customarily grown in Israel, as well as fruits that one has not had in the past year.

This week’s parsha deals not only with the splitting of the Red Sea, but also the mon (manna) which started falling in the desert and continued to fall for the 40 year that the Jews traveled through the desert. The miraculous quality of the Mon was that it did not pay to hoard too much or to sit back and do nothing. A small amount of effort was enough to assure that each family received what it was supposed to. This miracle, like every other miracle, was not intended to be a cute magic trick, but a lesson to us in the proper attitude and approach to life. From this miracle we are supposed to learn to view earning a living in the context of our other obligations. While it is a part of the order of our lives as ordained by our Creator that we work for our livelihood, we are supposed to remember that our sustenance comes from G-d. This miracle is a reminder to strike the happy medium of working for one’s sustenance but not to become enslaved to the job. There are many aspects of the Exodus narrative that yield lessons for all the generations that have followed the first generation that left Egypt.

The most important thing to remember is that the liberation from Egyptian bondage was not an end but a preparation to be servants of G-d. With the yearly reading of the account of the Exodus, we receive a needed reminder of this important principle. Indeed, history and current events have shown us that countries which succeed in gaining independence or overthrowing a tyrant and ethnic groups that gain civic equality through struggle often find that inner change and societal transformation are more daunting struggles that fighting an external adversary.

This week’s parsha contains “Az Yoshir, a song that the Israelites sang as they were being delivered from Egypt.

The Haftarah is from Judges 4:4-5:31. It describes the fall of the Canaanite general Sisera and his armies. It is thematically related to the battle against Amalek, which occurs at the end of this week’s parsha. An additional parallel between the parsha and the Haftarah is between the thanksgiving song of Devorah at the end of this week’s Haftarah and “Az Yoshir”, the song of praise and thanks after crossing the Red Sea that occurs in this week’s parsha.

 

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