Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st Aliya: The Bnai Yisroel (Children of Israel – Jews) had left Mitzrayim (Egypt). The closest route to Eretz Yisroel (The Land of Israel) was along the Mediterranean coast up into Israel. However; this territory was occupied by the Philistines. The Bnai Yisroel were not ready for a battle, so Hashem (G-d) lead them toward the Sea of Reeds. Pharaoh was informed that The Bnai Yisroel appeared to be lost, and he strengthened his resolve and that of his people and pursued the Jews into the Desert.
2nd Aliya: The Egyptians caught up to the Jews as they were camped by the edge of the sea. (Imagine the thundering sound, and cloud of dust that 600 charging chariots must have made and you can begin to understand the pure terror that must have struck the hearts of the people.) Moshe reassured them that they only had to trust Hashem and stand silently as His awesome majesty wiped out the might of Mitzrayim.
3rd Aliya: Moshe was told to stretch out his staff over the sea. Hashem separated the Jews from the Egyptians with a cloud cover and caused an Easterly wind to blow the entire night. As the waters parted, the Bnai Yisroel entered between the towering walls of water and crossed to the other side. The Egyptians chased after them into the parted waters of the sea.
4th Aliya: Moshe stretched his arm back over the sea and the waters returned to their natural state, drowning the might and glory of Egypt’s best. The Bnai Yisroel witnessed G-d’s awesome display of justice and they believed in the reality of Hashem and in the appointment of Moshe as His most trusted servant. Moshe, and then Miriam, lead the Bnai Yisroel in a spontaneous song of exaltation and thanksgiving. The incident with the bitter waters at Marah is detailed.
5th Aliya: The Bnai Yisroel struggled with the realities of their experience, attempting to balance faith with practical concerns for survival. The concerns for food and water were overwhelming and Moshe promised them quail and Maana. These “miracles” were introduced to the Jews as evidence of Hashem’s love, caring, honor and glory.
6th Aliya: The Bnai Yisroel were given strict instructions regarding the gathering and eating of the Maana. They were introduced to Shabbos, and an urn of Manna was saved for posterity.
7th Aliya: The nation traveled to Rephidim, and confronted Moshe over the issue of water. Moshe saw this as an unnecessary challenge to Hashem’s caring and love. Hashem instructed Moshe to hit the rock and bring forth water. The final episode in the Parsha was Amalek’s unprovoked attack on the newly independent nation. Yehoshua lead the attack against Amalek while Moshe, Aharon, and Chur (Miriam’s son) stood atop the battle field with Moshe’s arms stretched heavenward. Hashem commanded us to eradicate and never forget Amalek’s evil.
This weeks Haftorah is found in Shoftim (Judges) chapter 4. It relates the story of Devorah the Prophet, who along with her husband Barak, ruled the nation for 40 years. The year was 2654 – 1107 b.c.e and the nation was subject to the rule of Yavin of Canaan and his evil General Sisra. In a decisive battle at the foot of Mt. Tabor by the brook of Kishon, Hashem delivered the armies of Yavin into the hands of Barak and the Bnai Yisroel (Children of Israel). Sisra, the general, fled the battlefield on foot and sought refuge in the tent of Yael (a non-jew). He asked for water but she gave him milk, and he then fell into a deep sleep. Yael took a tent stake and drove it through the skull of the evil Sisra.
Reminiscent of the destruction of Mitzrayim by the Yam Suff (Sea of Reeds) and the Shira which was sung by the Bnai Yisroel, Devorah sang a magnificent song filled with the praises and glory of Hashem. This Haftorah is the longest Haftorah in the course of the year.
Parsha Summary, Copyright © 2016 by Rabbi Aron Tendler and Torah.org.