Enjoy four short thoughts and a video adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Parshat Beshalach.

Pharaoh's Credit

The beginning of this week’s Torah reading: “When Pharaoh sent out the nation....” is puzzling. Why is Pharaoh given credit for sending them out?

The truth is that Pharaoh only existed to help the Jews reach Redemption. Some entities express their positive intent from the outset, others like Pharaoh require effort and even transformation before their positive qualities come to the surface.

There is nothing in G‑d’s world that wasn’t created for the good. However in certain situations, He invites the Jewish people to work together with Him to bring that good to the surface. This is the role He gave the Jewish people: to confront Pharaoh and others like him and bring out the good that G‑d invested in them.
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The Woman’s Tambourines

Our Sages remark that the woman were so confident that G‑d would work miracles for them in the desert and so they brought tambourines with them from Egypt in the expectation of celebrating. “In the merit of righteous women, the Jews were redeemed from Egypt.”

A woman’s contribution comes in controlling the emotional environment of the home. Women have a greater sensitivity to spiritual truth. A woman arrives at knowledge by establishing a personal bond with the idea she wants to discover. She makes it part of herself instead of treating it as merely an abstract concept.

Because her knowledge is internalized and personally relevant, she can share it with others more easily and in this way, upgrade the moods of her husband, children and the others around her. She looks beyond the immediacies of her present situation and sees a higher and deeper purpose.

That is why the women played — and play — such an important role as catalysts of redemption. When the women in Egypt contemplated their situation; they did not focus on the slavery and hardship. They understood that exile was merely temporary. They had heard Moses’ promise of redemption and did not regard it merely as a promise of the future; it was a real factor in their lives. And because it was real for them, it was real to their husbands and children and ultimately, it became a top to bottom reality within the world.
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Waging War Against Amalek

At the conclusion of Parshat Beshalach, the Torah relates that Moses appointed Yehoshua to lead the Jews against the Amalekites. During the battle, when Moses’s hands were raised in prayer the Jews were victorious.

The Torah goes on to say that when Moses’s arms grew weary, a stone was taken and placed under him. Rashi comments: “Because he was sluggish in performing the commandment [of leading the Jews in battle] and appointed another in his stead, his hands became heavy.”

We know that Amalek was only able to affect the Jews who straggled behind spiritually and who, as a result of their sins, were evicted from the Jewish encampment and the Clouds of Glory.

When Amalek starts up with a Jew who is “outside the encampment,” even if his being there is a result of his own misdeeds, the Jews “within the camp” must leave it in order to protect their weaker brother.

The Torah goes further: Even Moses, who essentially led the whole war — it was he who appointed Yehoshua as his emissary to lead the battle— should have participated in the actual battle. His failure to do so was considered slothfulness.

Herein is a lesson for even the greatest: Spiritual participation in the ongoing battle against Amalek is not enough. Merely praying for the welfare of those attacked by Amalek, or sending one’s emissary, is neither adequate nor acceptable; the person himself must do whatever is necessary to keep his fellow Jews from the clutches of Amalek.
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Miriam’s Song

Miriam, the elder sister of Moses and Aaron, presided over the female encore to the Song at the Sea.

Miriam and her chorus brought to the Song at the Sea the intensity of feeling and depth of faith unique to womankind. Their experience of the bitterness of galut had been far more intense than that of their menfolk, yet their faith had been stronger and more enduring. So their yearning for redemption had been that much more poignant, as was their joy over its realization and their striving towards its greater fulfillment.

The great Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria writes that the last generation before the coming of Moshiach is the reincarnation of the generation of the Exodus.

Today, as we stand at the threshold of the ultimate redemption, it is once again the woman whose song is the most poignant, whose tambourine is the most hopeful, whose dance is the most joyous. Today, as then, the redemption will be realized in the merit of righteous women. Today, as then, the woman's yearning for Moshiach — a yearning which runs deeper than that of the man, and inspires and uplifts it — forms the dominant strain in the melody of redemption.
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Protector of Her People

At the time of the Song of Moses, the Jews were in the midst of a great journey through an awesome desert. They had yet to reach, conquer and establish a Jewish homeland. By contrast, at the time of the Song of Deborah, the Jews were already settled in the Land of Israel. Deborah was called upon to organize a campaign against Canaanite invaders.: