Beshalah – Perasha Synopsis

The Perasha begins with Bene Yisrael leaving Egypt. As requested, Moses takes the bones of Joseph to bury them in Israel. Pharaoh once again has a change of heart, and decides to pursue his newly released slaves.  Bene Yisrael, standing by the banks of the Red Sea, panic, as they hear the chariots of Pharaoh approaching.  Hashem reassures Bene Yisrael, and places a pillar of fire in between the Egyptians and Bene Yisrael.  Hashem commands Moshe to stretch his hand across the sea and it splits in two so that Bene Yisrael can cross on dry land.  Hashem removes the barrier of the fire, as soon as Bene Yisrael crosses safely, and the Egyptians continue their pursuit.  Hashem then commands Moshe to stretch his hand across the water once again, and the Egyptians along with their horses and chariots drown in the water.

The Perasha then records Shirat HaYam – the song of praise to Hashem describing this miracle.  Miriam, the sister of Moshe leads the women in song and dance as well.  Bene Yisrael journey for three days, and do not have water to drink.  They call the place Marah – bitterness, because the water is not sweet. Bene Yisrael complain to Moshe, Hashem commands him to throw a tree into the water, and it becomes sweet.  Bene Yisrael continue to complain about their lack of food.  Hashem sends Manna from heaven to feed them. They are instructed to take only a portion adequate for one day.  Many did not listen, and the leftovers rotted.  For Shabbat they are instructed to take a double portion on Friday so that they do not venture out on Shabbat to gather the Manna.  Hashem provided Manna for the forty years of travel in the desert, until Bene Yisrael entered the land of Israel.

In Rephidim, Bene Yisrael are once again were confronted with thirst. Moshe fears for his life, and beseeches Hashem for help.  Hashem instructs Moshe to take his staff and to hit a rock so that water will come forth. The place was then referred to as Massah U’Meribah, because Bene Yisrael contested, and fought with G-D.   Amalek, the grandson of Esav, comes to do battle with Bene Yisrael in Rephidim.  Moshe instructs Yehoshua to pick men to fight back.  Moshe, Aaron, and Hur ascend to the top of a mountain. While Moshe’s hands were raised in prayer, and Bene Yisrael were victorious.  Aaron and Hur prop Moshe’s hands until sunset.  Hashem tells Moshe to erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens, and that the war between Hashem and Amalek remains constant from generation to generation

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