From The Rabbi’s Study…Shabbat, January 26, 2024/16 Shevat 5784 (Shabbat Shirah)
Tu B’Shevat is the 15th of the Hebrew month, Shevat, which is Thursday, January 25th to Friday, January 26. The celebration of Trees.
“As the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My People.” Isaiah 65:22
Did you know you can plant a tree in Israel, too-without even being there? (J.N.F. Jewish National Fund)
The Kabbalists created a Tu B’Shevat seder where one eats 15 varieties of fruit and nuts that grow on trees in Israel. Try to eat the ones mentioned in the Torah!
The Torah portion contains: The Israelites leave Egypt, however the Pharaoh changed his mind and decides to pursue them. The pillar of fire separates the Egyptian army from the Israelites, which gives the Israelites time to cross the Red Sea when it splits. The Israelites watch as the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea. The Israelites sing a song of victory to G-d and celebrate their freedom. This begins the Israelites journey through the wilderness. The food and water are lacking and people start complaining to Moses. G-d grants the Israelites manna and water from the heavens. The Israelites are attacked by the Amalekites, and Joshua, appointed by Moses, successfully destroys their forces. (the Amalekites attacked from the rear, which killed many of our women, children and elderly! The Amalekites thought this would distress and weaken our soldiers…they were wrong, it strengthened them!)
The splitting of the Red Sea is considered the greatest miracle in the Torah. It is also a midrash that ALL THE WATERS OF THE WORLD SPLIT APART at that moment when the Israelites crossed! If you believe to speculate about the science of the weather and tides that is fine, however I believe that the Almighty did another miracle for the Israelites.
Martin Buber, a scholar and philosopher, argued that all the details of the splitting of the Red Sea are not important. The importance is that the Israelites believed that this action of the Red Sea was from their G-d and it was His miracle.
Moses chanted the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15) with the Israelites, and today Jews chant this as part of the daily and festival morning services. Our services we chant it on Friday night. This song is the constant reminder of G-d’s help for the Jewish people throughout the ages during the darkest crisis that occurs.
The Haftarah has a wonderful connection theme to this week’s Torah portion. The Haftarah has the Judge and Prophetess, Deborah leading her army into battle against the Canaanites. The battle took place by Mount Tabor near the Kishon River. Why didn’t her general lead the army? He was afraid and begged her to lead. Deborah ( the ONLY woman judge and prophetess gets the honor and therefore one doesn’t mention the general’s name. The theme of the waterways, battles, and victory in the Torah, the Neviim( prophets), and the Ketuviim (writings) and the song victory was sung by Moses and Deborah has become known as the Shabbat Shirah – the Sabbath of Song.
This week we were saddened by the attack and killing of 24 IDF soldiers by Hamas.
I will be lighting a Yahrzeit candle and reciting the mourner’s Kaddish for them this Friday night. I also continue to light an extra Sabbath candle for Kol Ysrael.
AM YSRAEL CHAI! LONG LIVE ISRAEL!
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder