Weekly Torah

You are here




This coming Wednesday is Tu B’Shevat - the New Year of Trees, will be celebrated. It is at this season that most of the trees in Eretz Yisrael begin to bud. We rejoice in the rebuilding of the land of Israel by planting trees. It is customary for Jews who live in the diaspora to eat fruit grown in Israel as a means of identifying with the Holy Land. It is also a tradition to eat a fruit that has not been previously eaten during the year so that we may recite the blessing of “shehechayanu. May this B’Shevat true blessing for all of us.






In this week’s parsha, we read of the miraculous splitting and crossing of the Sea of Reeds, when Moshe leads the Jewish people in exultation and song (Exodus 15). Shira, however, is more than a song. There is no English word that can adequately convey its meaning. It is an expression of jubilation that springs from the inner recesses of the soul. 


At the splitting of the Red sea, the Jewish people witnessed that which even prophets did not behold. The heavens opened as they beheld angels, the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs – they saw the very Hand of G-d. A simple handmaiden was able to point and cry out in joy, “This is my G-d...”

But there is yet another dimension to this song of Moshe that makes it so special, and this uniqueness is to be found in the Hebrew word, “Oz” with which Moshe Rabbenu commenced the song. It was with this very same word, “Oz” that Moshe previously questioned G-d and complained “mei Oz”...” - “From the time I came to Pharaoh to speak in your Name, he (Pharaoh) did evil to this people, but You did not rescue Your people (Exodus, 5:23) And now, with this word “Oz”, Moshe proclaims G-d’s praise.


Sometimes we sing songs of praise to G-d for having saved us from danger and suffering and we sing to acknowledge the miracles He made on our behalf, but that gratitude takes on a totally different dimension when we become aware that even the danger, the suffering that we experienced, was for our own benefit - and that through that affliction, we came to realize our potential and achieved greatness. Our bondage in Egypt enabled us to come to Sinai and accept G-d’s Covenant - for only a nation that endured suffering can appreciate the meaning of chesed - loving kindness. Only such a nation can be worthy of accepting G-d’s Covenant and all the responsibilities entailed therein - to become a “light unto the nations” - witnesses to G-d’s Presence. 


Now we can better understand why, when the Torah speaks about Moshe singing the song at the splitting of the sea, the word used is Yashir - will sing (in the future tense), for when Messiah comes, Moshe will once again lead us in song with the word “Oz, and we will understand the meaning of our long exile and our pain. All the pieces will fit together like a jig-saw puzzle.

In the interim, let us bear in mind the lessons of the opening passage of our parsha. When challenged, choose that which is right over that which is expedient. When HaShem led our people out of Egypt, instead of leading them on a direct route through the land of the Philistines, which was the quickest, most expedient way to reach Eretz Yisrael, He led them on a long journey through the desert. HaShem decreed that they take this circuitous path so as not to expose them to the immoral, corrupt ways of the Philistines.


From this we learn a most important lesson to guide us over the difficult hurdles of life. Although some opportunities may seem lucrative and easy, the question that we must always ask ourselves is “What is right and not, what is expedient”. What will be the spiritual consequences of my decision - not only for myself, but for my family as well, If HaShem re-routed three million people for this reason, we can certainly re-route ourselves and make wise Torah choices that will invest our lives with meaning.


Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Osher


This Torah portion is dedicated in memory of

Malka bas Fishel

Parshas Beshalach       10 Shevat 5778


(All times are for New York City)

Friday, January 26th, 2017

Candle Lighting time: 4:48PM

Saturday, January 27th, 2017

Shabbat Ends: 5:58PM

This book provides a powerful message that
will transform dinner conversation
into a meaningful spiritual experience
that will be remembered long after the meal has ended.
By Rabbis Yisroel & Osher Anshel Jungreis
Redacted by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Click here to order