Weekly Torah Portion: Beshalach (Exodus 13:17−17:16)


In this Torah portion, God tells Moses to set camp the Israelites at the Sea of Reeds until Pharaoh changes his mind about freeing the Jews and chases his former slaves. With the Egyptians on their tail, God splits the sea and Moses leads the Israelites through it. When the Egyptians entered, God closed the waters and the Egyptians drowned. Miriam led all the women in song and dance to celebrate. Soon after, the Israelites begin to complain about life in the desert. God provides quail and manna to feed the Israelites. The Israelites battle the Amalekites and win. Read an extensive summary on My Jewish Learning

Related D’var Torah

“Solidarity work is not for the faint hearted. It is personal and it is political. And, it challenges everyone involved. And every case is different.” – Rabbi Heather Miller in 2017 read the full drash

“It is easy for us to look back historically and understand the path of other dreamers. We can see their road blocks, their stumbles, their doubt, their grief for the loss of the life before the dream. Sometimes life was simpler before the pursuit of a dream.” – Miri HaRauch, 2008 Read the full drash

“The love we share in the spirit of liberty is a powerful force that can burst through rigid social structures and institutions that regulate how we relate to each other. Even in queer communities we often encounter such regulation: each sexual and gender sub-identity with its own label, its own parameters of sexual attractiveness, and its own strong opinions about how to dress, talk, act, think, or worship.” – Tucker Lieberman, 2009 read the full drash

“As lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer folks, we too are yearning for those stories that reveal and rejoice in our liberation struggle.” – Karen Erlichman, 2007. read the full drash

Torah Verse of the Week*

“And Israel saw the great hand that God had wrought against Egypt, and the people held God in awe; and they trusted in God, and in His servant Moses” (Exodus 14:31)

Other Suggested Readings

This story of liberation and faith has been claimed by countless communities as part of their journey out of their own “narrow place.” As lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer folks, we too are yearning for those stories that reveal and rejoice in our liberation struggle. Parashat Beshalach delivers such a story to us in a delightfully queer way, complete with musical score, ecstatic dance, dramatic language and powerful images. Queer liberation, like the Exodus from Egypt, is a process that is internal and individual, as well as communal and collective. Torah Queeries

Tucker Lieberman reads portion Be’shalach with an aim toward living out its love and radical liberation in our own lives. He likens Pharaoh’s demeanor to the “lustful, objectifying, arrogant Pharaonic potential that casts a shadow over our relationships.” In our own relationships with each other, it is frighteningly easy to become like Pharaoh. Torah Queeries


*Torah Verse of the Week is chosen by the Torah class during Tuesdays’ studies with Rabbi Lisa Edwards. Check out when our next Torah Study takes place

One Comment on “Weekly Torah Portion: Beshalach (Exodus 13:17−17:16)”

  • Anna January 30, 2015 am31 6:26 am . Reply

    i am really glad i found this synagogue!!!

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