Beshalach | Do miracles build faith?
Beshalach: Do miracles build faith?
Do miracles build faith? In this lecture Reuven Bryant challenges the idea with an obvious observation from this weeks reading from Exodus 15.
Hebrew for “when [he] let go,” the second word and first distinctive word in the parashah) is the sixteenth weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the fourth in the book of Exodus. It constitutes Exodus 13:17–17:16. The parashah is made up of 6,423 Hebrew letters, 1,681 Hebrew words, and 116 verses, and can occupy about 216 lines in a Torah Scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah).
Jews read it the sixteenth Sabbath after Simchat Torah, in January or February. As the parashah describes God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, Jews also read part of the parashah, Exodus 13:17–15:26, as the initial Torah reading for the seventh day of Passover. And Jews also read the part of the parashah about Amalek, Exodus 17:8–16, on Purim, which commemorates the story of Esther and the Jewish people’s victory over Haman’s plan to kill the Jews, told in the book of Esther. Esther 3:1 identifies Haman as an Agagite, and thus a descendant of Amalek. Numbers 24:7 identifies the Agagites with the Amalekites. A Midrash tells that between King Agag‘s capture by Sauland his killing by Samuel, Agag fathered a child, from whom Haman in turn descended.
The parashah is notable for the “Song of the Sea,” which is traditionally chanted using a different melody and is written by the scribe using a distinctive brick-like pattern in the Torah scroll. The Sabbath when it is read is known as Shabbat Shirah, and some communities have various customs for this day, including feeding birds and reciting the “Song of the Sea” out loud in the regular prayer service. The song of the sea is sometimes known as the Shirah (song) in some western Jewish synagogues.
Another notable feature of Beshalach is its haftarah. The haftarah tells the story of Deborah and totals 52 verses. It is the longest haftarah.