Below is a collection of Parashat Beshalah resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: In Parashat Beshalah, the Jewish people leave Egypt. After crossing the Red Sea, Moses leads the nation in song and Miriam leads the women with drums and tambourines. Commentators explain that Miriam was so confident that great miracles were about to occur that she told the women to be sure to bring their musical instruments! Imagine that you had to leave your home in a rush. You’re not sure exactly where you’ll be going, but you know you’ll be going on a long journey. What items could you not leave behind? Why?
Look inside the text (Shemot 15:20),
וַתִּקַּח מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה אֲחוֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַתֹּף בְּיָדָהּ וַתֵּצֶאןָ כָל־הַנָּשִׁים אַחֲרֶיהָ בְּתֻפִּים וּבִמְחֹלֹת – Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with tambourines.
Question #2: How do you establish trust? Think of somebody you trust and describe why you trust them. What makes YOU trustworthy? In Parashat Beshalah we begin to learn about some of the challenges the Jewish people face in the desert. They have no food and God sends them a miraculous kind of food, manna, every morning. But they are only allowed to take enough for the day, and must not leave any leftovers. They need to accept the rules Moses gave them and trust that God will send manna every morning. Some people don’t have the trust, and save some manna for the next day -but it becomes spoiled and wormy and Moses gets angry they disobeyed the rules.
Look inside the text (Shemot 16:20),
וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁ֗ה וַיּוֹתִרוּ אֲנָשִׁים מִמֶּנּוּ עַד בֹּקֶר וַיָּרֻם תּוֹלָעִים וַיִּבְאַשׁ וַיִּקְצֹף עֲלֵהֶם מֹשֶֽׁה – But they paid no attention to Moses; some of them left of it until morning, and it became infested with maggots and stank. And Moses was angry with them.
Question #3: After the battle with Amalek, God vows an eternal battle against Amalek. People often hold grudges against those who have wronged them. For how long is that appropriate? After World War II, many Jews refused to buy German products. Now, more than 75 years later, many Jews are living in Germany. Should we let time, and history, heal all wounds, or are there some things that are different? How do we decide what things fall into those we can put behind us and those things which need to be seared into our permanent memories?
Question #4: With the parting of the Red Sea, there is an outburst of song. Immediately afterward, the Israelites arrive at Elim, where they find an oasis with abundant water and date trees. Yet at Elim, there is no song, expression of wonderment, or even a sense of thanks. What is it that sparks people to acknowledge only the extraordinary gifts bestowed upon them but not the ordinary? Is it possible to train oneself to become appreciative of the small things which are done for us regularly?