Making sense of the sedra: Beshalach

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Making sense of the sedra: Beshalach

The secret of Jewish immortality

JLE CEO and trustees on solidarity mission to Israel
JLE CEO and trustees on solidarity mission to Israel

This week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, recounts the epic journey of the Jews as they undergo the Exodus from Egypt, miraculously crossing the split Red Sea to attain freedom on the other side. Centuries earlier, God had promised Abraham that his descendants would endure enslavement in a foreign land but eventually emerge victorious.

What endowed the Jews with the determination and resilience to endure such persecution? As Mark Twain once pondered: “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

Another promise made to Abraham by God was that the Jews would be as numerous as the stars in the sky, impossible to count. Why did God choose the stars in the sky among countless other things to symbolise the Jewish people? Perhaps it’s because of how stars shine. They not only radiate light in the darkness but continue to do so long after their own light has dimmed – spanning many light-years.

Since October 7, the Jewish world has faced a darkness unparalleled in my generation. Yet, paradoxically, we’ve witnessed a unity and togetherness, a nation that was once divided now shining against the backdrop of darkness.

Where do we find the strength? How do we persevere?

During a recent visit to Kibbutz Be’eri with the JLE trustees, surrounded by dread and darkness, we discovered the answer. On that mission, we encountered heroes who, against all odds, protected their families, sacrificing greatly to save as many lives as possible. Kayam, a wounded soldier whose family had been attacked on October 7, fearlessly entered battle. Despite his injuries, he shared stories of reliance, courage and hope.

Throughout history, various civilisations – Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians, crusaders, and more – attempted to destroy the Jews. However, the promise of the Jews exiting Egypt endures, shining even brighter against the backdrop of darkness, much like the stars.

We hold a promise that in every generation, despite attempts to annihilate us, Hashem saves us. The secret of our immortality may remain elusive, but examining our community’s resilience through the ages might offer some insight.



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