In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.
Joseph Shulam: Too Much Religion, Too Little Faith 
The children of Israel are out of Egypt, free at last from Egypt and from slavery This Shabbat the Torah reading is from Exodus 13:17 – 17:16. This reading includes some of the most important moments in the Biblical history. The crossing of the (Red) Sea of Reeds, and the Song of Moses.
The first time that the Lord sends the manna from Heaven to feed the Hebrew slaves freed miraculously from slavery. From the prophets, the Haftarah, is from Judges 4:4-5:31. This Torah reading is the second most important victory song in the Bible – the Song of Deborah that is in this Shabbat’s reading of the Haftarah.
From the New Testament we are reading from the Gospel of John 6:15-71, and 1 Corinthians 10:1-5. All these readings are dealing with the major Hebrew/Jewish pathos, we have an enemy that wants to delete us from history, we pray to God and He saves us!
The Torah portion is called in Hebrew Beshalach. The translation of Beshalach in English is “He let them go!” This phrase is interesting in Exodus 13:17-18:
“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 13:17,18 [NKJV]
Directly the Torah reveals to us that the leader of the people of Israel is not really Moses it is God, who decided that they will not go the short way, the way through by the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, the way of the Philistines. The text also gives us the rational why God didn’t lead the children of Israel through this shorter way: God feared that if the children of Israel would take the quicker/shorter road, a road that was full of Egyptian military fortresses and then the Philistines, who were very aggressive and good soldiers, the children of Israel would want to return to Egypt.
We learn from this text that God was concerned with the stamina and commitment of the children of Israel, and took precautions to protect the children of Israel from turning back and returning to Egypt, back to slavery. This is an interesting test case from which we can learn some very interesting principles that the Creator of this world applies contrary to common logic in human eyes:
- You just left Egypt after a couple of hundred years of slavery. You are free at last! You want to get away from the Egyptians that are chasing you, and do it as quick as possible. The last thing that you would expect from the God who loves you is to send you on a wild goose chase and in place of an 11-days trip from Egypt to the Land of Canaan, God makes you tarry and walk and survive in one of the world’s harshest deserts for 40 years of wandering.
- Knowing that your God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, your forefathers, is all-powerful and having seen His power over Egypt with ten plagues, your expectations could be for God to just wipe out the Egyptian army and lead you as quickly and in as short a time as possible to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… one of our problems is that we are very narrow-sighted and have a narrow perspective and a very selfish orientation.
Our problem is that when we speak of “having faith in God” we really mean that we have faith in the doctrines of God. This is true for most religious people, whether Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhist, or whatever, most religious people have this problem.
We believe the doctrines of God and the dogmas of our churches and synagogues! Our religious traditions are like a mask covering our face, but that mask is not over our mouth and nose, the mask is over our eyes.
This mask over our eyes is the mask of too much religion and too little faith and a personal relationship with the almighty God who created this world from A to Z. We all need to find a direct way for establishing a personal relationship with the almighty God of Israel.
You might ask me: How does one do this? How does a person establish such a relationship with God?
My answer comes from the words of Jeremiah the prophet:
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?’” – Jeremiah 17:5-9 [NKJV]
When the Lord tells Jeremiah the prophet not to trust in man or to let his heart depart from God, He, the Almighty, is including all men, from pastors and popes and preachers and pastors, to bishops and rabbis of all kinds, sizes, colors, or gender preferences. Only when we first trust only the Creator (and His word, from Genesis to Revelation), the one who is father of us all, all mankind, than we can start to give some limited trust to those fellows who claim to be God’s representatives down here on Earth.
Jeremiah states it clearly that even our own hearts are not to be trusted. This is because some of our greatest deception originates in our own hearts, that are full of selfish ambitions and a false confidence that we are smart and very talented.
The lessons that I learn from this approach that the Lord took with the children of Israel is that God always knows what is best for us! Doing thing the quickest way is not always the wisest choice. Sometimes something slow-cooked tastes much better than something instant and quickly ready to eat.
The second lesson to learn from this text is that trusting God even when we think that His advice and instruction is not logical is still the wisest thing to do!
The third lesson that I learn from this text is that the only way to have a real and true relationship with the Almighty is to spend time with Him. This may sound hard or impossible to do, but in actuality it is as apostle Paul told the Athenians:
“…so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…” – Acts 17:27 [NKJV]
We all have the Word of God, both the written, in a book, Word of God and also the living word of God – Yeshua, available to us. Spending time with the written Word of God and meditating on Him and on His word, with the desire and intention to not only be hearers of the Word but with a sincere desire to keep the Word, will bring us to a very tangible relationship with the Creator Himself through the Holy Spirit that filled us when we died with Yeshua in the water of our purification (baptism) and were raised into new life.
It is this trusting in God that gave Moses the faith to put his feet into the waters of the Red Sea, and to lift up his wooden staff that caused the waters to withdraw and allowed the children of Israel to cross over on dry land.
The song of Moses is also very very important not only for the generation that crossed the Red Sea over dry land, but for me and for all of us. It is even more important because we need to know this song and learn it by heart in the Hebrew language, so that when we stand in front of the eternal throne and the Lamb of God is seated on it and all that big throng of humanity will start singing they will be singing The Song of Moses.
Here is the text:
“And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.’” – Revelation 15:2-4 [NKJV]
The Song of Moses and the Song of Deborah (Judges 5-6) are two of the epic songs that describe the very important shadowy space in our relationship with the divine hand of God as it is revealed down here in our earthly sphere on this firm land called Earth. Here is what I learned from the Song of Moses (Exodus chapter 15) from my elementary school days, when Dr. Sarah Japheth was my teacher.
- God did it all! His hand was glorious over His enemy (Egypt). He was the warrior who sunk the Egyptian chariots in the Sea and they went down like a rock into the depths together with their horses. Israel had no part in the battle. They stood on the other side of the sea and just observed how their enemy drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.
- The enemy had big plans to destroy God’s children. The Egyptians were well prepared and ready for battle, but they didn’t have an army nor did they have chariots. God’s hand was raised and the sea washed out the Egyptian enemy like a flushing toilet into the abyss.
- God had prepared a place for His children, the children of Israel a place, a sanctuary, on His holy mountain, even before they crossed the sea on dry land.
God’s package was fully organized and packaged down to the last detail so that the redeemed of the Lord would arrive at God’s sanctuary singing His praises. The book of Revelation in the New Testament is patterned after the Passover story after the song of Moses and it is a celebration of God’s victory over evil and the evil one’s soldiers/angels.
The next big story in our Torah portion this Shabbat is the way that the Lord reacted to the children of Israel’s unreasonable complaints and murmurings, wanting bread. God is not angry with the children of Israel. In fact, He provides Israel with bread from Heaven for the full length of their 40 years of wandering in the Sinai desert, one of the harshest deserts in the world. I would get really angry if the people that I served were ungrateful and not appreciative for what I did for them.
In place of giving into their complaints, God gives them a super answer. God gives them their daily bread from heaven, without their having to plow the land, or sow seed, and without having to harvest… even without baking the bread.
Direct from Heaven daily, fresh and free of labor or cost – a divine gift of bread. Sustenance that every Sabbath demonstrated was not normal bread. The manna would not last more than 24 hours, but the manna that was collected on Friday morning lasted for two days, Friday and Saturday.
The last event that we read in this portion of the Torah is the first time that God leads Moses to strike the rock in order to get water and provide for the complaints of the children of Israel, for their request for water. This is a very important story and most people who criticize Moses for striking the rock in the book of Numbers don’t really remember or connect the two events.
Here is the text that is of great importance for the understanding of Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians chapter 10:
“So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” – Exodus 17:4-7 [NKJV]
Please note that this is not the same case like in the book of Numbers. Note that here God says to Moses, “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
It is this incident at the waters of Meribah that caused the apostle Paul to say that the rock that was struck in the wilderness followed the children of Israel from the beginning of their journey to the end of their journey and that rock that was struck was Yeshua the Messiah. This same teaching is found in the rabbinical Jewish Midrash and it is a plausible explanation of the reason as to why Moses struck the rock in the second case in the book of Numbers.
Please read the Parasha Beshalach and read the text of the Haftarah from Judges chapter 4-5, and read from the New Testament John chapter 6:15-71, and 1 Corinthians 10.
Joseph Shulam: Brad TV Video Teaching – Beshalach 
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.
Shalom from Jerusalem. My name is Joseph Shulam, and together with Brad TV, we are going through the weekly portions of the reading of the Torah, and last week, we talked about the portion that is called Bo, or translated in English, “appear before Pharaoh,” or “come to Pharaoh,” and this week, we are in a portion called Beshalach that starts in Exodus 13:17 and ends in Exodus 17:16.
Some of the Most Significant Portions of the Torah
We are dealing with some of the most significant portions of the five books of Moses, with the Exodus from Egypt, with the crossing of the Red Sea, with the giving of the law in Mount Sinai, and in last week’s portion, the children of Israel actually ate the first Passover and got instructions of how to celebrate the Passover in the years to come.
And the Passover is very important, very, very important, because so much of our relationship, and of the gospels, spends time telling us about the last Passover, the Last Supper that Yeshua and His apostles ate in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, and so it’s very important for us to understand that aspect, and the aspect of the crossing of the sea, and the eating of the manna, and all of these things are in the subsequent portions of the reading of the Torah on Shabbat in every synagogue in the world.
Pharaoh Let Them Go
So this week, we are in a portion, it’s called Beshalach, when Pharaoh sent them, or when he let them go, depends on which translation in English you read, when Pharaoh let them go, and like I said, starts in Exodus 13:17, ends in Exodus 17:16. The portion from the prophets that are read in the synagogues every week, this next Shabbat, it’s from Judges 4:4 to 5:31.
Okay, we are going to enter into the story of what happened after the children of Israel left Egypt. One of the things that is very important for us to learn from this portion is that the children of Israel did not forget the oath that Joseph made with his brothers and his relatives before he died. He told them, “I don’t want to be buried in Egypt. I want to be buried with Jacob, my father, and my grandfather, Isaac, and my great-grandfather, Abraham, in Hebron, in the cave that Abraham bought from the Hittite.
They Remember to Take Joseph’s Embalmed Body
This is mentioned in our portion, one of the first things, they did not forget. We’re talking about, you know, several hundred years, about 200 years later, Joseph’s body was embalmed, it was made into a mummy, mummified, like the Egyptian pharaohs, so the text says, but the children of Israel with Moses did not forget to take the bones of Joseph, the mummy of Joseph, with them, in the Exodus, when they left Egypt, they took the mummy with them, and they brought it to the land of Canaan. 40 years they carried that mummy in order to keep their oath, their forefathers’ oath to Joseph.
I think this is very significant, folks, because we are in a generation that we have so much to remember, and so much information, and every one of us who has an iPhone or a smartphone of some kind, which is loaded with possibilities to receive information, to send information all over the world, instantly. But here, you have the children of Israel a couple of hundred years later remembering the oath which Joseph had made his brothers and his relatives swear that they will not bury him as an Egyptian in the land of Egypt.
Jews From All Over the World Want to Be Buried in Jerusalem
This paradigm is of great importance, because Jews all over the world for 2,000 years of Exodus, from the exile, have remembered, and the powerful and the wealthy of Israel have always wanted to be buried in the land of Israel. I could tell you a story that I was in the hospital in Jerusalem, with a heart problem, and in the same room, there was a man, 94 years old, from New York, who had never visited Israel, but now he was dying, and he asked to be sent to Israel, to the hospital in Hadassah, Jerusalem, in order to die in the Land of Israel and to be buried on the Mount of Olives.
I couldn’t sleep all night long. The 94-year-old man just kept saying, “Mama, Mama, Mama.” He’s calling his mother, but he came to this land to die, and to be buried here in the land of Israel, on the Mount of Olives.
This same phenomena was with Joseph, and the same phenomena was with Jacob. They wanted to be buried in the land that God promised their forefathers, the land of Canaan, the land of Israel, and the children of Israel didn’t forget it, and the Torah makes sure that we remember that they kept their oath.
God Was With Them
The second thing that we learn in this portion of Beshalach, when Pharaoh sent them out, is from Exodus 13:21-22. I’m reading the text:
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people, the people of Israel.” – Exodus 13:21-22 [NKJV]
It’s a very interesting text, and it’s very famous, and we’re going to see it repeated, this concept repeated, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 10. Look, what does this indicate? It indicates that when the children of Israel left Egypt, the Lord went with them.
As they say in English, His presence, His Shekinah in Hebrew, Shekhinah in English, went with them, by day and by night. His presence was in the camp of Israel. They didn’t come out of Egypt alone. And we have this same concept repeated by Yeshua in the gospels. “Behold, I am with you until the end of days,” Yeshua says to his disciples, and it’s a teaching that I didn’t hear very often during my many years of going to church, and speaking at churches all over the world, and studying in Christian colleges.
Churches Don’t Teach That God Is With Us
I didn’t hear this teaching very much: “Behold, I am with you to the end of days.” This text here in our portion, in Chapter 13 of the Book of Exodus, gives us these two symbols of the Exodus, the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, in the heart of the camp of Israel, even before the tabernacle was built, God’s presence was with them in their camp, and this is something that I want to connect again with the teaching of Yeshua that is both in the gospels and implied by other texts in the letters of the apostles.
But God Is With Us
Yeshua says, “Lo, I am with you, with you all the time, till the end of days,” till the eschaton, till the millennium, if you wish, and of course, after the millennium, we’ll be with Him forever. So God is our partner, He is not a dictator, a tyrant that is taking us out of our slavery and abandoning us in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, folks. He is with us through thick and thin.
And one of the most moving pictures that I know is actually in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and that picture, which was drawn by a child, is that of Jesus on the cross, it’s a black and white picture, and the children of Israel are being led through a path with barbed-wire on both sides into the death camp, and Jesus extends His hand, and says, “Take Me with you.”
Orthodox Jews Find Yeshua in Death Camps During Holocaust
That picture is a very moving picture for me, a very significant picture, because, yes, when the Jews were going to the death camps of Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen, and Dachau, and Ravensbruck, and other places, during the Nazi attempt to wipe out the seed of Abraham from the face of the earth, Jesus went with them into the death camps, into the crematoriums, and the witness of that is that among the people who founded our ministry in Jerusalem were two Orthodox Jews that were born and raised in Hungary, in Budapest, and went on that horrible march in January of 1945 from Budapest to the death camps of Germany and Poland, and they found Jesus in the barracks of the death camps, in their labor in the death camps, and they were among the founders of our ministry in Jerusalem.
Christians Would Have Killed Yeshua in Holocaust if They Could Have
Joseph and David Vactor are their names. So, yes, the Jew did not go into the gas chambers and the crematoriums alone, God was with them. And when Christians killed the Jew, if Jew had been alive at that time, they would’ve killed Him, too. They would’ve gassed Him, too, yes, ‘cause He’s a Jew, and He never stopped being a Jew.
Pharaoh Changed His Mind
So we’re continuing, continuing now into Chapter 14 of the Book of Exodus, and I’m going to read from verse 13 and 14. “And Children said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today, for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’” Pharaoh changed his mind. After he released the children of Israel, he changed his mind, and he says, “Oh, I can’t afford to lose this cheap labor of slaves working and building my cities, my funerary cities, No, I need them, it was a mistake to release them.” He forgot that he released them ‘cause the 10th plague killed all the first born of Egypt, not only of the people, but also of the animals of the first-born died in that plague.
And so he chased, with hundreds of chariots and his army on horses, chased the children of Israel, and they were… In front of them was the sea, and behind them was Pharaoh and his army, and they didn’t know what to do, and they were in a total bind without any hope to escape the trained army of the Egyptians on chariots, and there were young, and old, and babies, and children, walking.
Children of Israel Blocked by Sea
The sea in front and the Egyptians behind, and To says these words from Chapter 14, verse 13 and 14, “Don’t worry, God is with us. This is the last time you’re going to see the Egyptian army. This is the last time you will see those that whipped you with whips and forced you to labor in the mud and in the brick factories that built the cities of Egypt, no, not gonna see them again. All you have to do is stand still, be silent. Don’t worry, the salvation of the Lord is coming today.”
Shut Up and Let God Solve Your Problem
Now, it takes faith, folks, in these circumstances, to say, “Stand still, shut up. God is working to solve your problem.” The children of Israel didn’t necessarily have that faith, but Moses and Aaron, who had had encounters with God, and had seen the hand of God move over the Egyptians and over the land of Egypt, knew that God did not take them out into the wilderness so that they would die there at the hands of the Egyptians.
“I said, ‘Stand still, the salvation of the Lord is coming today. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’” This paradigm is very important for us, because we have theological faith, we believe in doctrine A, doctrine Moses, doctrine Moses, pre-millennial, post-millennial, pan-millennial, a-millennial, we believe in all these doctrines, and we judge one another on these doctrines, but no, there’s no such a thing in the Bible, folks.
Our faith is not a faith based on theological doctrines. Our faith is a faith based on a relationship, on trust, trusting God and His promises. That’s where our faith should be. The divisiveness that denominations have created based on doctrinal issues is artificial, and so we need to realize what we would do if we were in the same situation as the children of Israel and Moses were, with the sea in front, the enemy behind.
Stand Still and Watch God at Work in Your Life
Will we have enough faith and trust in the Lord to do what He says, be quiet, shut up, because the salvation of the Lord is coming? You just stand still and observe God’s work. And I think that in the history of Israel, we’ve had more than one occasion in which this was the situation, and we have experienced it physically, even in the 20th century. So let’s build our faith and know that God is our partner, Yeshua is our partner, and we are together in this battle, and we are together in fulfilling the promises that God gave to our forefathers and to our prophets of the restoration of Israel, the return from exile, back to this land.
You Need Torah to Understand New Covenant
And this portion of the Torah is a great demonstration of this power. Yes, and now we come to Chapter 15 of the Book of Exodus, and the crossing of the Red Sea, and the song of Moses is with us, and I want to read from the Book of Revelation 15:2-3, to connect the Revelation with the Exodus from Egypt, and to show you, our Christian brothers and sisters, how important the Torah is for understanding the New Covenant, the good news, the gospels, and the teachings of Yeshua Hamashiach and His apostles.
I’m reading from Revelation 15, verses 2 and 3:
“And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God, they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!” – Revelation 15:2,3 [NKJV]
Saints Sing Song of God
Here you have it, in the last book of the New Covenant, describing the last scenes of glory, and praise, and worship of the Lamb, sitting on the throne, the Lamb of God, Yeshua Hamashiach, sitting on the throne, and what are you going to be singing? They’God not gonna be singing “Amazing Grace,” they’God going to be singing, my dear brothers and sisters, the song of God and the song of the Lamb.
The Song of God is this chapter, Exodus Chapter 15, and it’s glorious victory that God gives the children of Israel. The children of Israel cross the sea on dry land, their enemies drown, and again, in the Book of Revelation, we see that the end of evil, of Satan and all of his angels, is very much connected with this Exodus from Egypt. The paradigm is the Exodus from Egypt, my dear brothers and sisters, because, if you read in Revelation 20, verse 10, it says, “The devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophets are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
God Keeps His Promises
That’s the word of God in the book of Revelation, Chapter 20, folks. So, yes, the Exodus from Egypt is the children of Israel out of slavery, 40 years in the wilderness is a trial period, and God-education period, the conquest of the land of Israel, the keeping of God’s promises to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, that this land that He gave to Abraham and his seed forever is going to be, forever, the home, the habitation, and the inheritance of the people of God, of Israel and the people of God, I should say.
So, yes, this is the portion that we’God talking about. This is the portion that all the synagogues are going to read this next Shabbat. I’m gonna end with this text from Exodus 16:2-6,
“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against God and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them. ‘Oh that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill us, this whole assembly, with hunger.’” – Exodus 16:2-6
God Delivers Food to Hebrew Children
“And the Lord of Israel said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.’ Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, ‘At evening you shall know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” – Exodus 16:4-6
That’s the text. Two things I want to summarize here. One thing is, yes, miracles don’t change people’s hearts and don’t change people’s faith. They’re wonderful to experience, but people don’t change from miracles. This text in the Book of Exodus 16, is clear. The Children of Israel crossed the sea with a mighty hand, as their enemies drowned in the sea, but they didn’t change their faithfulness, they didn’t change their faith. They still complained.
Miracles Aren’t Enough
They forgot that God is their partner in this journey in the wilderness, and they forgot that God’s presence is with them day and night in their camp, they forgot to trust God, and they complained, but God said, “Okay, I will continue having patience with them, and I will again prove to them from the bread from heaven, the manna, that I am with them, and that I am faithful to keep my promises.” Hallelujah, this is true, and we see that this also connects us with the gospel, because I’m going to read to you from John 6:32-38.
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’” – John 6:32,33
Yeshua Is Our Manna
Talking about Himself,
“Then they said to him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ And Yeshua said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet you do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out.’” – John 6:34-37
Yeshua is that bread, the manna from heaven, and Yeshua is keeping His word, and we read in 1 Corinthians 10 that when the children of Israel left Egypt, they were baptized under the cloud by day and had the pillar of fire by night, and they crossed the sea. They were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the spiritual food that they ate and drank in the wilderness, and this becomes a symbol, and the rock from which they drank in the wilderness twice is the Messiah, and it’s interesting, dear brothers, that this same truth is understood by the rabbis, by the great rabbis of Judaism, that that rock is the Messiah, and we have this whole portion of the Torah that points to God, to His faithfulness, to His keeping all the promises, and Yeshua connects it with Himself and with the bread of life that comes from Him.
May God bless all of us. And keep reading the Torah, and the prophets, and the New Covenant, and be blessed in your reading. In Yeshua’s name, amen.
Joseph Shulam: From Slavery to Freedom 
The Torah reading this Shabbat is Beshalach (“when He sent them out”), Exodus 13:17 – 17:16, and from the Prophets the reading is from Judges 4:4 – 5:31 (The story of Deborah and her song), and from the New Testament the reading is from Matthew 14:22-33.
Last week we read the story of the deliverance of the children of Israel along with a mixed multitude of people from different nations that saw what Israel was doing on the night that the angel of death passed through the land of Egypt and copied them. They watched the homes of the Israelites and saw the blood of the lambs that was put on their doorposts.
They watched the Israelites packing their belongings and they packed their belongings. They watched and saw that at dawn the children of Israel were marching out and they joined them. Now this Shabbat’s reading starts with the children of Israel led by Moses and Aaron leaving Egypt and starting their long journey to the land of Canaan.
For the vast majority of those Israelites leaving Egypt with their families and their belongings, the land of Canaan, the land given by God to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their seed forever, was an unknown land. They were all born in Egypt, and most of had been born into slavery and that is all that they knew, slavery under hard labor in building the cities of the dead for the Pharaohs and the nobility of Egypt.
This is where our Torah reading starts:
“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 13:17,18 [NKJV]
Right at the beginning, when the Israelites are taking their first steps to leave Egypt, we are given information regarding the situation that would not have been exactly encouraging if it had been us who were living there at that time.
God is not going to take them through the easy, quick, simple, regular, and usual way to travel from Egypt to the land of Canaan. The way that goes north to the seacoast of the Mediterranean and follows one of the main highways of the ancient world, the Way of the Sea (the Via Maris).
That highway connected Africa, Asia, and Europe. By using it, the travel to the land of Israel would have been between 11-14 days, definitely not 40 years. To me this text looks like a comment of the editor who already knew the end of the story However, the Holy Spirit saw fit to let us know from the very beginning of their journey that it was not God’s will to make things easy for the children of Israel.
Here comes the wisdom of the Lord over our own human limited by time and space wisdom. Our normal human wisdom would say, “Men of Israel, you are running away from Egypt, get out of there as quick as possible, run baby run!” Here is our limitation and the Lord’s foreknowledge of things that will happen and things that He, the Almighty, thinks that it is the best thing that needs to happen with these liberated slaves.
The Lord wanted to educate Israel, and give them the Torah, and have a virtual wedding at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and feed them the manna and sweeten their water, and train them to trust Him and see His faithfulness.
The main reason that is given to us in the text above is: “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” In other words, God wanted to take the children of Israel through bootcamp!
The same God who wanted Egypt and the world to get acquainted with Him, the Creator of the World, through the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh, and to demonstrate to Egypt that He is the one who controls the forces of nature, the water in the Nile River, the locust, and the light and darkness, the weather, and life itself.
I find it interesting that only the firstborn of Egypt, humans, and animals, died on that dark night when the Angel of Death went through the houses of Egypt and harvested their firstborn children. This, the Lord chose to do, to show that He, and He alone is in control of everything from nature to all human life.
For us, these days, when the coronavirus is almost like the Angel of Death that visited Egypt on that night with the full moon, but the difference now, is that it is worldwide, from the East to the West, from the North to the South, on all seven continents.
It is good for us to know and understand and believe and trust the Lord, even today during these fateful times with a virus is raging throughout the world. We who read the word of God must remember and learn and wake up to the simple truth that the only boss, the only king and the only true ruler who directs and controls and educates and prepares this world for anything is the Lord God of Israel – who so loves the world that He sent His only begotten Son…
Let us all seek the Lord and repent of our personal sins and pray for our governments to repent and return to the Lord and His values and to a biblical faith and lifestyle.
One impressive thing that has captured my attention is that as much as the children of Israel were in such a hurry, they didn’t forget to take the bones of Joseph with them to carry them to the land of Canaan and to bury Joseph together with Abraham, Isaac, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Jacob in Hebron.
When you are leaving in such a hurry and don’t have much time and have children and stuff to carry, to remember the coffin (mummy) of Joseph that has been dead for at least 300 years is for me, quite impressive.
The next big thing in this reading of the Torah is the crossing of the Red Sea. I am much more impressed by what happened before the crossing of the sea, before Moses struck the water with his staff, before the water parted, before the people stepped down and walked through the corals, and the reefs of one of the most beautiful underwater seascapes.
Here is a short recap:
The large hoard of Israelites, and the mixed multitudes of people, left Egypt with the wealth of the Egyptians and had that feeling of finally being “free at last.” After only a brief couple of days, they see a dust cloud rising into the sky behind them, and hear the noise of chariots, hundreds of chariots, maybe thousands.
In front of them is the sea, behind them the Egyptian army ready for slaughter and to take them back to slavery with a vengeance. The situation looks hopeless! A sense of fear and horror engulfs them! The feelings of joy and hope that they left Egypt with, suddenly turn to horror and a nightmare.
They start to blame Moses, and Aaron. I am sure that Moses himself and Aaron as well, didn’t know what to do! It is at this very point that logically, from a human point of view, disaster is at hand!
By faith, Moses finds the following words to say to comfort the people:
“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’” – Exodus 14:13,14 [NKJV]
Moses finds just the right words at the right time to say in order to encourage the people. This is of great importance for those who stand in pulpits and speak the word of God to the people in these difficult times. Moses is not fabricating stuff or giving false prophecies.
Moses knows God personally! The Lord prepared him and equipped him and Moses knew the Lord personally Moses knows that all that has happened in Egypt and to Egypt and all the wonders and miracles and plagues that he saw from God’s hand were not done to bring Israel to the wilderness of Sinai to die.
Moses knew that even though to human eyes and to human logic the situation looks impossible the same God that wanted to show Egypt and the world that He is in control and that He is the King of the universe, will now do the same and teach the Egyptians and the Israelites that same lesson!
“I am the Lord your God who brings you out of Egypt.” This is the kind of faith/trust that those of us living in these days of coronavirus have to restore in our relationship with the creator and with our savior. Just having faith in this or that doctrine, usually manmade doctrines that divide and create parties and sects, is not the essence of faith, the essence of faith is to trust in the Lord when our human minds can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that He is there waiting for us with His open hands.
Here is what the Lord told Moses:
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.’” – Exodus 14:15 [NKJV]
This is one of these texts that I keep in mind always. The complaining and the crying and the dark clouds that we raise over our own heads, dark clouds that rob us of hope and keep us from joy and inject depression into our hearts.
The Lord says to Moses – Stop crying, tell the people to go forward! But, let me take the side of the people here, and say that what the people see in front of them is the sea, and behind them Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. We have thousands of years of history and collective experience from Genesis to Revelation and another 2000 years of history and experience to know that God is faithful, and that He keeps His promises.
Israel of today is the greatest proof that we can trust God and His promises and not cry and complain, but to ask where the door is, that will open up to us, so that we can go forward! To step out on God’s promises and to trust – to trust –the one true Lord.
The next big story of this Torah reading is that after the crossing of the Red Sea and after the great victory over the Egyptians, less than two months after leaving Egypt, this is what the children of Israel said:
“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’” – Exodus 16:2,3 [NKJV]
What can we learn about ourselves from this text? We could look at Israel through the eyes of anti-Semites and say: These nasty Jews, forever ungrateful and always wanting more and wanting something for free!
From my experience in the Sinai Desert traveling with some of the most famous Pentecostal (Charismatic) church leaders of the West, I can tell you that when difficulties occur on the road and cars break down, those leaders, who are considered super spiritual and full of the Holy Spirit and perform miracles and cast out demons and heal the sick, act like faithless heathens, even when experiencing much lesser difficulties than the children of Israel faced.
We are all human and all selfish, and in difficult situations, we all look out for number one, ourselves first. Put yourselves in the place of those Israelites that were born and raised in slavery. Yes, slavery, where you have no rights and no freedom, but someone takes care of your food and lodging no matter how poor and how hard your conditions might be.
You don’t have to worry about it – you are like a horse in the stall – you work, you ride, you race, but the master brings you your corn and hay. Now, there is no one to feed you and there is nothing much around for you to go and pick from the field. So, see how our gracious Lord provides for those recently freed slaves, bread from heaven! Daily bread from heaven, fresh and free, provided by the grace of God, daily!
I am not blaming the children of Israel! I am praising the Lord for His patience and grace, for His understanding of the people, and of their circumstances, and who for 40 years fed them the manna – bread from heaven. O Lord our Lord how wonderful are Your ways, and how great is Your love and patience with all Your children! We owe You so much!
Joseph Shulam: Would You Step Into the Red Sea? 
The Torah reading this next Shabbat is from Exodus 13:17-17:16. Finally, after God struck Egypt with ten plagues, Pharaoh sent the children of Israel out of Egypt, with their families, their livestock, and with the wealth of Egypt.
However, Pharaoh was not so happy to lose this great free working force, that built up Egypt and served as slaves for over 200 years. After Moses and the children of Israel left Egypt, Pharaoh changed his mind and wanted to recapture the Israelites, and bring them back to be slaves of Egypt, or just annihilate them completely.
So, Pharaoh gathers his army and his chariots and begins to pursue Israel into the desert. Pharaoh probably said to himself and to his wise man, “See how stupid these Israelites are? They were walking right into a great trap. The Egyptian army is behind them, and the Red Sea (the sea of reeds) is in front of them.”
Pharaoh could have said to himself, “These Israelites deserve to be slaves, for they know nothing at all! They are just so uneducated about warfare. They are walking right into my trap!”
Of course, if you don’t take the existence of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, into account, you would think like Pharaoh and Egypt. However, if you know God and take into account what you are, and who you are, and who God is in your life, the formula changes dramatically. This is what has happened to Israel throughout the 4000 years of Israel’s history.
In this week’s reading, there are two major events in which God’s people experienced God as a master planner of warfare: the crossing of the Red Sea on dry land by the Israelites and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army in the sea, and the battle between the Amalekites and Israel in the Sinai desert. I would like to share with you the right strategy of war, that incorporates the unexpected and surprising involvement of the Almighty God in favor of His people Israel.
The first one is the battle of Pharaoh against Moses and the children of Israel, when they were trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the sea. Realistically, the children of Israel and Moses had no way to escape the onslaught of Pharaoh’s army, and their victory.
On the one hand, you have slaves who were not learned in warfare, who had no military training, who had just escaped Egypt to be free from slavery. On the other hand, you have the Egyptian army, with their chariots and the best-trained army in the world.
Why do I say this about the Egyptians? If the scholars are right, and the Exodus took place either in the time of Ramses II or earlier, both periods were some of the greatest periods in ancient Egypt’s history.
During this time, Egyptian armies ruled in Africa all the way to the land of Somalia, and in the North and East, Egypt was the owner of all the land of Canaan, with Lydia in the West. A vast empire.
What Pharaoh and his army and chariots didn’t take into account is that the Lord God of Israel is both the God of peace and the God of war. When God enters into a war, the weak can have victory over the strong, the small over the giant (like with David and Goliath). The impossible becomes possible, and the unthinkable becomes a reality.
The Red Sea opened up when Moses struck it with his stick. Israel had victory in the battle with Amalek when Hur and Aaron held up the hands of Moses, and Amalek was defeated by Israel’s recently-released slaves. If some military general would suggest this kind of action, saying, “I guarantee that, if you hold up my hands, you will have a sure victory in the battle,” this general will for sure be admitted into a mental hospital.
Reading this Torah portion we must draw the following conclusions:
- The battle belongs to the Lord, if we belong to the Lord. With our weaknesses, and with our problems, and with our failures and successes. If we really belong to the Lord, our battles (if for righteousness) also belong to the Lord.
- When the Lord is involved through His children in the battle – the victory is always His!
- The Lord God of Israel is not allergic to victory. When He enters the battle, the victory is guaranteed.
- Please remember that the God of Israel and the father of Yeshua our Messiah is not, and never was, a pacifist. He is the God of peace and also the God of war. He is the God that gives a just reward to those who are His faithful children, and also punishes justly those who are rebellious and negative against Him and His instructions, and His faithfulness.
I used to be anti-war, a pacifist, until the Six-Day War. In the Six-Day War I believe that the Lord God of Israel repeated the same might and the same victory against four major Arab armies in the same way that He gave David the victory over Goliath, the Philistine giant. Realistically-speaking, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, each had a formidable army that outnumbered the Israelites more than double on fighter jets, number of tanks and armored vehicles, and for sure by manpower.
Now, into our private lives as disciples of Yeshua, the same principle that works on the national level of Israel (when the Lord intervenes) also works on our personal and private level. This is not a power or a force that you can manipulate for the Lord to use and grant you. There is no witchcraft or mumbo-jumbo that you can use to make sure that God will fight your battles.
However, there is a true and sincere faith that you are God’s child, and that God loves you, and wants what is good and righteous and true for you, and your family and people. This faith gives you strength and security to stand for God, and be an obedient servant of the Most High, and keep the eyes of your faith open and ready to see His hand move actively in your life.
Please read this portion of the Torah and put yourself (with your mind and imagination) on the beach on the edge of the waters of the Red Sea, with the army of Pharaoh in pursuit, and ask yourself, “Do I have the faith to put my toe in the water, and take the first step into the sea, trusting the Lord to carry me through?”
If you are a disciple of Yeshua, and you have never had to take that leap of faith, and walk out into the unknown and into the adventure of trusting God, I want to encourager you in your life that when the challenge and opportunity to step out by faith in your life comes – take that step. It is not a gamble if you believe that you will never walk alone, but that Yeshua is here with you now.
Don’t be stupid. Be faithful and trust the Lord. When He says to you, “walk” – walk!
Joseph Shulam: How to Pray for the Worst of Your Worst Enemies (Like Amalek and ISIS) 
The portion (parasha) that is being read in the synagogues this coming Shabbat is Beshalach, from Exodus 13:17-17:16. In this portion we have three main events that are of extreme importance to all believers, be it Jews or non-Jews:
- The crossing of the Red Sea.
- The provision of the manna.
- The battle against Amalek.
The one that is most appropriate for me to address here is the last one, the battle against Amalek. God seems the harshest concerning Amalek from all the enemies of Israel. Why is God so harsh and so condemning against the tribe of nomads, who live in a desolate land and who refuse to submit to the laws of war or the laws of peace?
Let me give you a slight collection of passages concerning Amalek in the Bible:
Amalek was Esau’s grandson. He was the son of Eliphaz and Timna. So, we have an enmity in the family between two “cousins”.
“Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim… Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’” – Exodus 17:8,14 [NKJV]
“But ships shall come from the coasts of Cyprus, And they shall afflict Asshur and afflict Eber, And so shall Amalek, until he perishes.” – Numbers 24:24 [NKJV]
“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.” – Deuteronomy 25:17-19 [NKJV]
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” – 1 Samuel 15:2,3 [NKJV]
The above texts are the key texts from the Word of God that speak about Amalek. The text in Deuteronomy 25:18 is a key to understand why God was so angry and against Amalek, “he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.”
Amalek had no boundaries to their cruelty. They took the rules of war and totally ignored them. Even in the ancient world there were rules of war, and although every war is cruel and bloody, Amalek used their cruelty against a weak and weary population, and had no fear of man or of God.
There is no people, tribe, or nation against which God has declared such harsh measures as, “I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
In this week’s parasha we find this text from Exodus 17:8-14, that is cited above. I can’t help but think of ISIS and the war in Syria and Iraq now. I can’t think of ISIS without thinking of Amalek. I have been praying for the Muslim population of the world, and I have written that the best strategy for winning the Muslims to the Messiah is the only strategy that Yeshua gave us.
See the whole text please:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?” – Matthew 5:43-47 [NKJV]
Although this text seems totally not logical, and it is much more logical to say, “you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,” however, we have seen that this method also does not work well over a long period of time.
The great grandchildren of your enemies will still be your enemies. We have seen this over and over in history. The wars in Bosnia, the war in Kashmir, and the ethnic wars in Africa are all ancient wars. Even if they are quiet for decades, they come up and surface with added cruelty.
The words of Yeshua don’t seem logical, but they have not been implemented sufficiently by larger groups of people to test if they work or not. I know that on an individual level they work, because I have tried them myself, and over time I have seen that they work, and they make your enemy become your best friend.
The situation that exists now with ISIS is not the same situation, because ISIS is not susceptible to “love” or “human exchange of sympathy.” They have drunk from the same well of Amalek that disregards every standard of humanity and have in fact dishonored Muhammad and the majority of the peace-seeking minority of the Islamic World.
Maybe we should all pray a double prayer:
“Lord God, the God of love and peace, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, please use your power and authority in heaven and on Earth to stop this scourge of humanity called ISIS, and deliver our Arab and Muslim neighbors from the oppression and horrible abuse (Amalek) of the human form that You created so perfectly. Give the leadership of the world a clear vision of what and who they are dealing with and fulfill Your promise to blot out the memory of Amalek. In Yeshua’s name, amen and amen!”
God can do it by waking up those fighters and leaders and helping them to stop and repent, or by His force, and if so, by God’s messengers of doom from the international community. These same messengers who are dragging their feet and actually empowering the radical jihadists of ISIS, by not engaging them with the only kind of force that will stop them – boots on the ground.
Because, as you know the song, “These boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these boots are going to walk all over you.”
I pray that this Amalek that is called today ISIS will be stopped by God, and that God will find the messengers to do His work. I hope you pray with me that this will be done by a super-breakthrough and awakening inside of ISIS, that will understand the promises of God, and change, but if not, I pray, that God will send other messengers who will do what God promised He would do to Amalek.
Yehuda Bachana: Do Miracles Really Build Faith? 
Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.
In the Bible, we read about amazing miracles, similar to what we read in this week’s Torah portion. Our weekly Torah portion describes the miracle of the Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, manna in the desert, water out of a rock, and the war with the Amalekites, where Moses raised his hands and brought victory for Israel.
All of this brings about an important question in our modern society: Where have all the miracles and wonders gone? If I were to personally witness a miracle, like the ones that the people of Israel saw in this week’s parasha, of course I would be touched, my life would change, it would be improved, and I would become a true believer.
Believing Without Seeing
There used to be a show on TV called “Fair & Square”, in which technicians and other professionals were invited to people’s homes to deal with simple problems. They were secretly filmed to see if the contractor, electrician, plumber, or mechanic will try to inflate their prices, to sell unnecessary services to innocent customers, or if they’ll be “fair & square” and solve their simple problems in a cheap way.
The point is that if everyone knew that they were being filmed, obviously they would all behave honestly. The key is to be “fair & square” even when no one is watching.
This is an example of dealing with temptation. The same goes for miracles. If we experience a miracle, then there is no real meaning to our struggle. Our struggle is in how we deal with life without experiencing a miracle, how we deal with our lives through faith.
Still, I believe that most of us can identify with this idea – that a true, great, and amazing miracle will drastically change our lives. Spoiler alert: This way of thinking is wrong. Human beings don’t work that way. I believe that this parasha teaches us the opposite.
God’s Guiding Hand
Let’s go back to the beginning when God created the world along with the rules of nature. Then He gave us the power over His creation, He gave us the reins.
Did God abandon us? Not at all. Our belief is that God is with us, helping, guiding, and giving to us – even if He’s doing it behind the scenes.
Most of the events in the Bible are considered to be natural occurrences, but we as believers see God’s guiding hand in all of it. Take Moses in the basket for example. Was it an explicit miracle that Moses came to Pharaoh’s daughter?
Likewise, the fact that she agreed to a Hebrew wet nurse and chose to raise Moses as a leader in Pharaoh’s house instead of drowning him, was this a miracle? Did this happen by chance or possibly by the hand of God? It is clear to us, as students of the Torah, that this was the hand of God.
But even this was made clear only after a long period of 80 years. Anyone else who saw what happened could have made up 1000 excuses having to do with natural human compassion towards babies. Indeed, we didn’t see anything happen – no change in status – for the people of Israel for 80 years since the time that Moses was saved up until the time he returned from Midian.
So where was the miracle? My point is that most people who lived in Moses’ time did not consider his rescue as a baby or his being raised in Pharaoh’s home to be a miracle.
With historical hindsight, we can see God’s guiding hand in this, we can see the phenomenon.
Can a Miracle Strengthen Faith?
I think the same goes for us. History marches on slowly, and we can point to many events that we as believers can see as being caused by God’s guiding hand, while others can be seen as happening purely by chance. For example, after 2000 years in exile, God gathered us, and is continuing to gather us from the four corners of the Earth in order to established the State of Israel.
As a believer, I see the State of Israel, the fact that the Jewish people have returned to the Promised Land and the fact that the state maintains one of the most considerable armies in the world, as proof positive in the existence of God. We are still the same people that God brought out of Egypt, the chosen nation.
Take for example the Six-Day War. Jerusalem returned to Israel’s hands and God prevailed over the combined power of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. These armies were supported by Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. We were about 200 fighter jets against 1000, and 800 tanks against 2500. Only with historical hindsight can we see God’s hand guiding, helping, and supporting.
In the Exodus from Egypt, a formative event occurs – the creation of a nation. God proves to a people who came out of a nation filled with idols who is the true and only God. In regards to the Exodus from Egypt, we are well acquainted with the following verses:
…That you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord. – Exodus 10:2 [NIV]
But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. – Exodus 9:16 [NIV]
…So you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. – Exodus 9:14b [NIV]
The people of Israel needed these miracles in order to succeed in getting out of Egypt, survive in the desert, and in order to get to know the Creator for the first time. After the people of Israel entered into the land of the promise, the public miracles became more and more hidden.
Yet we ask, can a miracle, however big, strengthen the faith of man? Today I will strive to answer this question.
The People of Israel Saw and Believed
This Shabbat, we encounter one of the most impressive and well-known miracles: the parting of the Red Sea. In this miracle, the people of Israel were trapped between sea and land, the Egyptian army was closing in, and everything seemed lost and hopeless. When you read the text, you can really feel the panic of the paralyzed and frightened people. We read and imagine the approaching Egyptian army. It’s scary, they would have without a doubt punished everyone.
Would it be better to return to slavery in Egypt? Or perhaps it would be more merciful to jump into the sea and drown. Would this not be better than allowing the women and children to fall prey to the hands of the Egyptian army, and to return to slavery, without any hope or future?
Amongst these suicidal thoughts, panic arose and despair took over. Suddenly God tore the sea in two, the people of Israel passed safely on dry land, and the Egyptian army continued its pursuit into the Red Sea:
The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. – Exodus 14:28 [NIV]
Immediately after the story of the crossing of the Red Sea, we have another well-known verse:
And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. – Exodus 14:31 [NIV]
“The people… put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” Why did they choose to trust? Because they saw the great hand of God.
Here we find the answer to our question. Indeed, according to the Torah, a miracle strengthens faith. See Exodus 14:31.
Is God’s Word Enough for Us to be True Believers?
When I was a child, one of my favorite parables was that of “The Rich Man and Lazarus” from Luke 16:19. I have always loved this story, most likely because of the combination of different factors, like justice, and the sense that there is a God, and that He cares even for a beggar like Lazarus.
In the story there is a rich and stingy man who did not have compassion for Lazarus, the suffering beggar, who always had with him the dogs who licked his wounds.
In the end, each received what he deserved. He who had it bad in this life went on to goodness in the afterlife, and he who had it good in this world received hardship in the end.
Despite the fact that I always enjoyed hearing this parable of Yeshua, and my mother would read it to me at least once a day, I was always bothered by Abraham’s response to the rich man who asked for Lazarus to be brought back to life in order to warn his five brothers.
The rich man felt compassion towards his brothers and asked for Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them, and Abraham’s answer was:
…They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them. – Luke 16:29b [NIV]
The rich man insisted, he claimed that the Torah and the Prophets were not enough:
…But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent. – Luke 16:30b [NIV]
I never understood the fact that Abraham’s answer was indeed Yeshua’s answer. What does this mean? If someone does not respond to Moses, to the Torah, or the Prophets, then they will also not respond to the miracle of one who comes back from the dead.
If suddenly a miracle occurred before me that was great, wonderful, unbelievable, and beyond any imagination – of course I would respond in complete repentance, and from now on I wouldn’t have even the slightest doubt.
So how could Abraham, or Yeshua more accurately, compare between believing in the Torah, in Moses, and in the Prophets, to a true miracle that happens right before your eyes?
You cannot compare between the two, and in my opinion, here lies the difficulty.
The Path to True Faith
In order to find a solution to this problem, we return to this week’s Torah portion, to the great miracles of Exodus. Here we are confident in the people of Israel, who saw the great hand of God and believed.
This is not where the story ends, however. Only a few weeks after the parting of the Red Sea, the episode of the golden calf occurred. The people of Israel, the same people who saw the Red Sea split in two with their own eyes, are the same people who sinned terribly with the creation of the golden calf, and the Torah emphasizes that the whole nation participated in this offense.
How can it be that a nation who experienced God’s salvation, through the parting of Red Sea, so quickly forget about God? The answer is simple: human memory is short. After 40 days of Moses being on Mount Sinai, the people of Israel already forgot the miracles and wonders, and returned to idol worship.
We would all be anxious if we had a serious test at a university, or somewhere similar, but afterwards we don’t remember what was on the test, and the test no longer matters to us at all.
Our parasha reveals to us a very important message. The opinion that miracles raise faith is fundamentally misleading. The path to true faith is not a short path of miracles and wonders – impressive as they may be.
The path to true faith is a very long and hard path of daily devotion, through the study of scripture. This path requires deep thinking and living within a community of other believers, there are no shortcuts to faith.
The miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, together with all the other miracles of that time was not enough to save the Jewish people from the most insidious sins that caused the death of all the adults in the desert.
This was Yeshua’s conclusion, when summarizing the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Yeshua claimed that in order to come to complete faith in God, you must show a dedication that lasts your entire life.
True faith is acquired through long years of thought, of studying scripture, of fulfilling God’s word, and of much work. It is not the result of a momentary lift in your mood, as a result of some sort of miracle, be it the most impressive one. Such an uplifting experience comes and goes within a moment.