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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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