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Weekly D'rash B'shalach

This week our Torah portion is the story of the parting of the Red Sea and Israel's journey to Horeb, which is also known as Mt. Sinai. We could categorize almost everything that happens in this story as "the love of God" and "the grumbling of the people." When you read the whole portion in one sitting, it is striking how patient and kind God is toward the people and how unappreciative and complaining the people are! First, God understands the heart of the people and doesn't want them to get discouraged by seeing a new enemy, the Philistines. So he leads them in an indirect route to Sinai, which is why they had to cross the Red Sea (Exo 13:17–22). The passage emphasizes that God led them where they were going.

Second, God parted the Red Sea for them. What seemed to them as an insurmountable obstacle was the leading of the Lord. Remember that the "best route" to Sinai would have discouraged them, so God led them in a way in which he showed them his deliverance in a dramatic and miraculous way. The result was that the people put their trust in the Lord. This is the first time in the Bible that we read about God "saving" people (14:29–31). The parting of the Sea then becomes the point of emphasis throughout the Tanakh as a demonstration of the power of God and the deliverance from Egypt.

The response of the people was to sing a great song of praise. This song, found in Exodus 15, is recited every single day in a Jewish morning service. The theme of the song is the deliverance of God by parting the waters of the Sea. But this is not the end of the story. Immediately after giving thanks to God for such a great deliverance from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, the people grumble because they are thirsty—and then again they grumble because they are hungry. In each case we read that God heard their grumbling and met their need. The text says that he was teaching them to trust and obey him. Every step of the way the people complained; and every step of the way God heard them and met their need. He was teaching them to never give up hope in God. This is a theme that is repeated over and over again.

What we see here in the big picture is the chesed (great loyal love) and benevolence of God. From our vantage point, things can look impossible and bleak (i.e., coming to the Red Sea with little hope of survival, and the need for water and food). They were learning to trust God with all their needs. They were learning to never give up. So the takeaway for us is to never stop trusting God no matter what happens!

In Yeshua, we have received the deliverance and an assurance of the ‘World to Come’. In the journey of this life, we face all kinds of challenges. We must continue to follow him and trust him, knowing that he cares for us—even if the journey seems to take us "out of the way" or is difficult. May we never give up. As we read in a familiar passage: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”. (Hebrews 12:1–2)

In Yeshua, we can endure suffering in our lives. We are never going back to Egypt and our destiny is the promised land! Never give up!!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard

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