Water is traditionally a symbol of life and Torah in Judaism. In his dvar Torah to Parashat BeShalach, Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann from Rabbis for Human Rights considers a life where the waters are not flowing freely. What are we to do when there is scarcity?
By Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann: In honour of my recently deceased, beloved father-in-law Dr Oliver French
Parashat BeShalach is read on a Shabbat known as "Shabbat Shira" in synagogues all over the world. It is so known because of the long poem or song known as "Shirat Hayam" (Song of the sea) that is read from the Torah in which the people of Israel celebrate their liberation from Egypt, the miracle of the parting of the Reed Sea, and also because of Deborah's song that is also read as this week's haftorah.
The great Jewish thinker Yeshayahu Leibowitz in his book of teachings from the Torah Seven Years of Talks on Parashat Shavua points out (page 266-8) that this Torah reading neatly divides into two parts of exactly the same size - 58 verses each. The first part describes the miracle of the parting of the sea and the people's response - the only place in the Torah in which the people are described as having faith in G-d and his prophet Moshe. "And Israel saw the great hand, which the Lord had used upon the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in Moses, His servant." -Exodus 14:31
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