Judaism: Week Sixteen - Beshalach

On Oct 18, I began what will be a year long journey. As I explained in my post that day (http://www.sarahveyland.com/blog/2014/10/18/judaism-week-one-bereshit), every week in complete synchronization, Jews all over the world read the same portion out of the Torah. On Oct 18, like everyone else, I started at the very beginning. Here we are three months later, and I am still at it. I've read 16 portions so far. We've completed the Book of Genesis (known in Hebrew as Bereshit), and are well on our way through the Book of Exodus (known in Hebrew as Shemot).

Previously, every time I sat down to read Torah, I approached it as I would any other book. Just crack it open at page one and start reading. But because this book is unlike any other book, it is impossible to read large chunks at a time. There is so much to process with each sentence, each word, that I was never capable of reading much at all in one sitting. I would become discouraged, and put it aside.

Hence why the Jews read one portion a week. In manageable bite sized pieces. That way we can spend an entire week pondering that piece. Arguing that piece. And digest it before the next week comes along. I find myself loving this method. I greatly enjoy sitting down every Saturday to read the Parsha for that week. It's actually quite a clever way to make this very unapproachable, reverential tomb more approachable.

So this past Saturday (Jan 31st), I sat down and read Beshalach. There is so much going on here! It covers the actual exodus, being pursued by the Egyptians, the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, manna from heaven, miracles in the wilderness, and on and on. So much happens. But there is one moment that struck me in particular. One moment, rather small in comparison to everything else going on, that grabbed my attention.

At the end of the portion, the newly escaped nation is confronted by an enemy, the Amalek. So they put together an army and fight for survival. During the battle, Moses, his brother Aaron, and their companion Hur climb to a hilltop overlooking the battlefield. It is written that when Moses raised his arms his nation would prevail, but when he would lower his arms Amalek would prevail. When his arms got heavy, they sat him on a stone. Aaron and Hur held up Moses's arms so the Israelite nation would prevail. And so they did.

This is such a powerful image to me. More than the splitting of the Sea of Reeds. More than the manna from Heaven. The image of three men, bonded together, holding fast to one another, and doing their utmost for the survival of their people. They would do anything for one another and their people, even if they physically have to hold one another up. They did it. And not only survived, but prevailed. 

One of the many artistic renderings of this spectacular moment.

One of the many artistic renderings of this spectacular moment.