Torah: Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16) Haftarah: (Judges 4:4-5:31)
Holiday…Tu B’Shevat starts on Monday,February 6/15 Shevat
The Torah portion has the continuing story of the Exodus…
The Israelites depart Egypt, but Pharaoh changes his mind and decides to pursue them. The Red Sea splits open, and the Israelites cross safely. The Egyptians drown in the Red Sea. * a Nesim v’Nesim/ Miracles and Miracles – All the world’s oceans, and seas split at this moment in time (midrash).
In celebration, the Israelites sing a song of victory to G-d. * Do you know what we do during the Passover seder to remember this event? Do you know the reason, WHY?
The Israelites begin their trek through the wilderness with complaints to Moses about the lack of food and drink. G-d grants the Israelites water and heavenly manna.
The Israelites are attacked by the Amalekites, and Joshua, an appointee of Moses, successfully destroys their forces. * They attacked our people from the rear. Killing many of our women, children and elderly.
There are no shortcuts in life; we are told in Exodus 23:17 that G-d did not take the Israelites by the land of the Philistines (Gaza area on the Mediterranean Sea), which was nearby. When one looks at a map of the ancient Near East, and you will readily see that Moses followed a long and circuitous route of the Promised Land. He chose not to go north by the most direct route, a journey that would have taken a few days. Perhaps Moses knew that if he took the short way, the unprepared Israelites would have become disheartened the first time they were challenged by an enemy, and would have turned in flight, only to return to Egypt. (Israelites also still had a slave mentality) Thus the message appears to be clear: there are no shortcuts to the Promised Land. Much time and effort must be invested in doing anything worthwhile in life. Also, the Israelis train their military by have the young recruits travel throughout land to show them the reasons to protect not only the land, but their people, too.
The Haftarah Connection features Deborah, considered both a prophet of G-d a judge. This was the time before kings and some of the prophets were also judges for the Israelites. She leads the Israelite army to victory over the Canaanites at Mt. Tabor near the Kishon River. The song of victory forms the second part of the haftarah.
Note also that this Sabbat is called Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of the Song referring to the songs of Moses and Deborah!
If you wish to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, start with the blessings over the first glass of White wine. Then the next 3 glasses of wine add a little Red wine. This symbolizes the four seasons. Then try to think of the following…fruit you can eat whole, fruit with a pit or seeds, fruit with a rind.
The seven species for the Kabalistic seder are… grapes, figs, pomegranates, wheat, barley, olives, and carob/boxsur… honey! (honey is included because the Promised Land was flowing with milk and HONEY!
Enjoy this festival!
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder