Weekly Torah Portions

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Summary in Russian
Rav Zilber in Russian

Pharaoh finally sends the Beney Yisrael out of Egypt. HaShem leads the Jewish People towards Erets Yisrael with pillars of clouds and fire on a circuitous route which avoids the Plishtim (Philistines). 

Pharaoh regrets the loss of so many slaves and chases the Jews with his army. The Beney Yisrael are very afraid as the Egyptians draw close, but HaShem protects them. Moshe raises his staff, and HaShem splits the sea, enabling the Beney Yisrael to cross safely. 

Pharaoh, his heart hardened by HaShem, commands his army to pursue the Beney Yisrael, whereupon the waters crash down upon the Egyptian army. Moshe and Miryam lead the men and women, respectively, in song thanking HaShem. After travelling for three days only to find bitter waters at Marah, the people start to complain. Moshe miraculously produces potable water for them, and in Marah they receive certain mitsvot. The people complain to Moshe and Aharon that they had better food in Egypt. HaShem sends quails so they can have meat and provides the `Manna' for them. It is a miraculous bread that falls from the heavens every day except on Shabat. However, on Friday a double portion descends to supply the Sabbath needs. Nobody is able to obtain more than his daily portion, but Manna collected on Friday suffices for two days so the Jews can rest on Shabat. Some of the Manna is set aside as a memorial for future generations. After the Jews complain again about the lack of water, Moshe miraculously produces water from a rock. Amalek then attacks the Jews. Joshua leads the battle while Moshe prays for their welfare.


When the Israelites left Egypt, Hashem did not lead them to Canaan by the direct route, through the land of the Phillistines, lest they encounter hostile armies there and come to regret their departure. Instead, the people journeyed in the opposite direction led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Moshe did not forget to take the remains of Yoseph with him, as Yoseph had been promised. The Israelites had reached Etham on the edge of the wilderness when they were commanded to turn back and camp by the Red Sea. There, Paroh would pursue them, thinking they were trapped in the wilderness, but Hashem would again provide their salvation.

As soon as the Jewish people had left, Paroh regretted letting them go. He assembled his whole army, which consisted of many soldiers and chariots, and pursued the Israelites. The Egyptians were soon at the heels of the Israelites who panicked and complained bitterly to Moshe. "It would have been much better for us to serve in Egypt than to die in the wilderness," they cried. However, Moshe assured them that Hashem would once again fight for them. The guiding pillar of cloud moved to their rear, creating a veil of darkness that hindered the Egyptian advance. Moshe, at Hashem's bidding, stretched out his hand over the Red Sea and a strong east wind blew and divided the water. This enabled the Israelites to cross the sea on dry land. The Egyptians followed them into the seabed but were thrown into confusion by Hashem. Their chariot wheels became stuck in the wet sand. Then Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea again, and the waters began to flow over the Egyptian army drowning the Egyptians and their animals.

A song of triumph was sung by Moshe and the children of Israel in which they praised Hashem's infinite power in destroying the enemy. He would guide Israel safely into Canaan whose inhabitants were terror-stricken upon hearing of the Egyptian destruction.

The Jewish march continued southwards through the wilderness. Soon the lack of food made them wish that they died amid the luxuries of Egypt. Hashem made it known that He would cause bread to rain from the heavens for them and would test whether they would obey His law. In the evening, migratory birds called quails came to the camp, and in this way the people were provided with meat. In the morning, the ground was covered with Mun (manna), which had the taste of whatever its consumer desired. The Israelites were commanded to gather no more than an Omer (a measurement of just under four pints) of Mun per person every day. However, on the sixth day a double portion was to be gathered to provide food for the Sabbath as well, when no work was permitted. An omer of Mun was placed in an earthenware pot kept before the Ark in the Mishkon, a testimonial to Hashem's kindness.

At Rephidim, which lay further south, the people again quarreled with Moshe complaining of a lack of water. At Hashem's bidding, Moshe struck the rock on nearby Mt. Horeb with the staff he had used in Egypt, and streams of water gushed forth allowing the people to drink to their hearts' content.

The tribe of Amalek attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. The Israelites, led by Yehoshua, fought back. While the war raged, Moshe ascended to the top of the hill holding his staff. Aharon and Chur accompanied him. They supported his hands when he became tired, for Israel prevailed only when Moshe held up his hands praying to Hashem. The battle lasted until sunset, and Amalek was decisively defeated. Moshe was told to record this incident and impress its occurrence upon Yehoshua, who would lead the Israelites into Canaan. Because of their treachery in attacking Israel, the tribe of Amalek was to be totally destroyed and its memory eradicated.

The Route from Egypt

   When Pharaoh let the people leave, God did not lead them along the Philistine Highway, although it was the shorter route. God's consideration was that if the people encountered armed resistance, they would lose heart and return to Egypt. God therefore made the people take a roundabout path, by way of the desert to the Red Sea. The Israelites were well prepared when they left Egypt.
  Moses took Joseph's remains with him. Joseph had bound the Israelites by an oath: "God will grant you special providence, and you must then bring my remains out of here with you."
   [The Israelites] moved on from Sukkoth, and they camped in Etham, at the edge of the desert.

   God went before them by day with a pillar of cloud, to guide them along the way. By night it appeared as a pillar of fire, providing them with light. They could thus travel day and night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire at night never left [their position] in front of the people.

Egypt Pursues

   God spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the Israelites and tell them to turn back and camp before Freedom Valley, between Tower and the sea, facing Lord-of-the-North. Camp opposite it, near the sea. Pharaoh will then say that the Israelites are lost in the area and trapped in the desert. I will harden Pharaoh's heart and he will come after them. I will triumph over Pharaoh and his entire army, and Egypt will know that I am God."
[The Israelites] did as [they had been instructed]. 
     Meanwhile, the king of Egypt received the news that the people were escaping. Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds regarding the people, and said, "What have we done? How could we have released Israel from doing our work?"

   [Pharaoh] harnessed his chariot, and summoned his people to go with him.  He took 6oo chariots with chosen crews, as well as the entire chariot corps of Egypt, with supporting infantry for them all.  God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he went after the Israelites. Meanwhile, the Israelites were leaving in triumph.

   Setting out after [the Israelites], the Egyptians overtook them while they were camping by the sea, at Freedom Valley, opposite Lord-of-the-North. All of Pharaoh's chariot horses, cavalry and infantry were there. As Pharaoh came close, the Israelites looked up. They saw the Egyptians marching at their rear, and the people became very frightened.

   The Israelites cried out to God. They said to Moses, "Weren't  there enough graves in Egypt? Why did you have to bring us out here to die in the desert? How could you do such a thing to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we tell you in Egypt to leave us alone and, let us work for the Egyptians? It would have been better to be slaves in Egypt than to die [here] in the desert!"

   "Don't be afraid," replied Moses to the people. "Stand firm and you will see what God will do to rescue you today. You might be seeing the Egyptians today, but you will never see them again. " God will fight for you, but you must remain silent."

Crossing the Sea

   God said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me? Speak to the Israelites, and let them start moving.  Raise your staff and extend your hand over the sea. You will split the sea, and the Israelites will be able to cross over on dry land.
   "I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will follow you. Thus I will triumph over Pharaoh and his entire army, his chariot corps and his cavalry. "I When I have this triumph over Pharaoh, his chariot corps and cavalry, Egypt will know that I am God."
   God's angel had been traveling in front of the Israelite camp, but now it moved and went behind them. The pillar of cloud thus moved from in front of them and stood at their rear.  It came between the Egyptian and the Israelite camps. There was cloud and darkness that night, blocking out all visibility. All that night [the Egyptians and Israelites] could not approach one another.
   Moses extended his hand over the sea. During the entire night, God drove back the sea with a powerful east wind, transforming the sea bed into dry land. The waters were divided. The Israelites entered the sea bed on dry land. The water was on their right and left like [two] walls.
   The Egyptians gave chase and came after [the Israelites].  All of Pharaoh's horses, chariot corps and cavalry went into the middle of the sea.  Toward the end of the night God struck at the Egyptian army with the pillar of fire and cloud. He panicked the Egyptian army.  The chariot wheels became bogged down, and they could move only with great difficulty. The Egyptians cried out, "Let us flee from Israel! God is fighting for them against Egypt!"

 The Egyptians' Downfall                                                       

   God said to Moses, "Extend your hand over the sea. The waters will come back over the Egyptians, covering their chariot corps and cavalry."
   Just before morning, Moses extended his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal condition. The Egyptians were fleeing [the water], but God swamped the Egyptians in the middle of the sea.  The waters came back and covered the cavalry and chariots. Of all Pharaoh's army that had followed [the Israelites] into the sea, not a single one remained.
  Meanwhile, the Israelites were walking in the midst of the sea on dry land. The water was on their right and on their left like [two] walls.
   Thus, on that day, God rescued the Israelites from Egypt. The Israelites saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. The Israelites saw the great power that God had unleashed against Egypt, and the people were in awe of God. They believed in God and in his servant Moses.

The Song

    Moses and the Israelites then sang this song to God. It went:
I will sing to God for His great victory,
            Horse and rider He threw in the sea.
                                               My strength and song is God
And this is my deliverance;
                                               This is my God, I will enshrine Him
            My father's God, I will exalt Him.
                                               God is the Master of war,
                                                        God is His name.
                                                Pharaoh's chariots and army
                                                        He cast in the sea;
                                                His very best officers
      Were drowned in the Red Sea.
                                                The depths covered them;
                                                         They sank to the bottom
                                                         Like a stone.
                                                Your right Hand, O God
                                                         Is awesome in power;
Your right Hand, 0 God
                                                                   crushes the foe.
                                                         In Your great Majesty
                       You broke Your opponents;
    You   sent forth Your wrath
                          It devoured them like straw.
      At the blast of Your Nostrils
             the waters towered.
             Flowing water stood like a wall.
                The depths congealed
                 In the heart of the sea.
                   The enemy said, "I will give chase;
                                 I will overtake, divide the spoils
                                                           I will satisfy myself.
                I will draw my sword;
                              My hand will demolish them."
        You made Your wind blow;
                 The sea covered them.
                                                            They sank like lead
                In the mighty waters.
                            Who is like You among powers, God?
                            Who   is like You, majestic in holiness,
                                        Awesome in praise, doing wonders?
                You put forth Your right Hand;
                         The earth swallowed them. 
                                                             With love, You led
                         the people You redeemed;
              With might, You led [them]
                to Your holy shrine.
                  Nations heard and shuddered;
                                                      Terror gripped those who dwell in Philistia.
                   Edom's chiefs then panicked;
                                                     Moab's heroes were seized with trembling;
                                     Canaan's residents melted away.
                       Fear and dread fell upon them.
                                 At the greatness of Your Arm
                      They are still as stone.
                                         Until Your people crossed, 0 God,
                                                      Until the people You gained crossed over.

                                      Is Your accomplishment, God.
         The shrine of God
                             Your Hands have founded.
                                  God will reign forever and ever.

   [This song was sung] when Pharaoh's horse came into the sea, along with his chariot corps and cavalry, and God made the sea come back on them. The Israelites had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea.

 Miriam's Song

   Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the drum in her hand, and all the women followed her with drums and dancing. Miriam led them in the response, "Sing to God for His great victory, horse and rider He cast in the sea."

  The Bitter Waters

   Moses led the Israelites away from the Red Sea, and they went out into the Shur Desert. They traveled for three days in the desert without finding any water. Finally they came to Marah, but they could not drink any water there. The water was bitter (marah), and that was why the place was called Marah. The people complained to Moses. "What shall we drink?" they demanded.
When [Moses] cried out to God, He showed him a certain tree. [Moses] threw it into the water, and the water became drinkable.

    It was there that [God] taught them survival techniques and methods, and there He tested them. He said, "If you obey God your Lord and do what is upright in His eyes, carefully heeding all His commandments and keeping all His decrees, then I will not strike you with any of the sicknesses that I brought on Egypt. I am God who heals you."

Elim and Sin

   Then they came to Elim. Here there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms. They [then] camped by the water. They moved on from Elim, and the entire community of Israel came to the Sin Desert, between Elim and Sinai. It was the 15th of the second month after they had left Egypt.

   There in the desert, the entire Israelite community began to complain against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by God's hand in Egypt! There at least we could sit by pots of meat and eat our fill of bread! But you had to bring us out to this desert, to kill the entire community by starvation!"

Promise of Food

   God said to Moses, "I will make bread rain down to you from the sky. The people will go out and gather enough for each day. I will test them to see whether or not they will keep My law. On Friday they will have to prepare what they bring home. It will be twice as much as they gather every other day."

   Moses and Aaron said to the Israelites, "When evening comes, you will know that it was God who took you out of Egypt; and in the morning, you will see God's glory. He has heard your complaints, which are against God. After all, what are we that you should complain against us?"

   Moses said, "In the evening, God will give you meat to eat, and in the morning, there will be enough bread to fill you up. God has heard your complaints, which you are actually addressing against Him. What are we? Your complaints are not against us, but against God!"

   Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the entire Israelite community to gather before God, for He has heard your complaints.”
    When Aaron spoke to the entire Israelite community, they turned toward the desert. God's glory was visible in the clouds.

 The Manna

   God spoke to Moses, saying  "I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Speak to them and say, 'In the afternoon you will eat meat, and in the morning, you will have your fill of bread. You will then know that I am God your Lord."'

   That evening, a flock of quail came and covered the camp. Then in the morning, there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, there were little grains all over the surface of the desert. It looked like fine frost on the ground.

   The Israelites looked at it, and had no idea what it was. "What is it?" they asked one another.

   Moses said to them, "This is the bread that God is giving you to eat.  God's instructions are that each man shall take as much as he needs. There shall be an omer for each person, according to the number of people each man has in his tent."

   When the Israelites went to do this, some gathered more and some less. But when they measured it with an omer, the one who had taken more did not have any extra, and the one who had taken less did not have too little. They had gathered exactly enough for each one to eat.

   Moses announced to them, "Let no man leave any over until morning."

   Some men did not listen to Moses and left a portion over for the morning. It became putrid and maggoty with worms. Moses was angry with [these people].

   [The people] gathered it each morning, according to what each person would eat. Then, when the sun became hot, it melted.
   When Friday came, what they gathered turned out to be a double portion of food, two omers for each person. All the leaders of the community came and reported it to Moses.

    [Moses] said to them, "This is what God has said: Tomorrow is a day of rest, God's holy Sabbath. Bake what you want to bake, and cook what you want to cook [today]. Whatever you have left over, put aside carefully until morning."

   They put it way until [Saturday] morning, as Moses had instructed. It was not putrid, and there were no maggots in it.

   Moses announced, "Eat it today, for today is God's Sabbath. You will not find [anything] in the field today. You are to gather [this food] during the six weekdays, but the seventh day is the Sabbath, and on that [day] there will not be any."
Still, some people went out to gather [food) on Saturday, but they found nothing.

 The Sabbath

    God told Moses [to say to the Israelites], "How long will you refuse to keep My commandments and My law? You must realize that God has given you the Sabbath, and that is why I gave you food for two days on Friday. [On the Sabbath] every person must remain in his designated place. One may not leave his home [to gather food] on Saturday." 

   The people rested on Saturday.  The family of Israel called [the food] manna. It looked like coriander seed, [except that it was] white. It tasted like a honey doughnut.

   Moses said, "This is what God has commanded: Fill an omer measure with [the manna] as a keepsake for your descendants. They will then see the food that I fed you in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt."

   Moses said to Aaron, "Take an urn and fill it with an omer of manna.
Place it before God as a keepsake for your descendants."

   As God commanded Moses, Aaron [later] placed it before the [Ark of] Testimony as a keepsake.  The Israelites were to eat the manna for 40 years, until they came to inhabited territory. They ate the manna until they came to the edge of the land of Canaan. An omer is a tenth of an ephah.

  Water from the Rock

   The entire Israelite community moved on from the Sin Desert, traveling according to God's instructions until they camped in Rephidim. There was no water for the people to drink.                  The people began to quarrel with Moses. "Give us water to drink!" they exclaimed. 
  "Why are you quarreling with me?" asked Moses. "Are you trying to test God?"
    The people began to suffer thirst because [of the lack] of water, and they began demonstrating against Moses. "Why did you bring us out of Egypt?" demanded [the leader]. "Do you want to make me, my children and my livestock die of thirst?"
   Moses cried out to God. "What shall I do for this people?" he said. "Before long they will stone me!"

   God said to Moses, "March in front of the people along with the elders of Israel. Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb. You must strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." Moses did this in the presence of the elders of Israel.

   [Moses] named the place Testing-and-Argument because the people had argued and had tested God. They had asked, "Is God with us or not?"


   Amalek arrived and attacked Israel there in Rephidim.  Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us, and prepare for battle against Amalek. Tomorrow, I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand."

   Joshua did as Moses had told him, engaging Amalek in battle. Moses, Aaron and Chur went up to the top of the hill.  As long as Moses held his hands up, Israel would be winning, but as soon as he let his hands down, the battle would go in Amalek's favor.  When Moses hands became weary, they took a stone and placed it under him, so that he would be able to sit on it. Aaron and Chur then held his hands, one on each side, and his hands remained steady until sunset. Joshua was thus able to break the ranks of Amalek and his allies with the sword.

Divine Vengeance

   God said to Moses, "Write this as a reminder in the Book and repeat it carefully to Joshua. I will totally obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens." 

   Moses built an altar, and he named it God-is-my-Banner. He said, "The Hand is on God's Throne. God shall be at war with Amalek for all generations."

 Фараон, наконец, отпустил сынов Израиля из Египта. Сам Б-г направлял движение евреев при помощи облачного и огненного столпов. Он не повел их короткой дорогой в будущую Землю Израиля, а избрал окружной путь через пустыню, чтобы избежать столкновения с филистимлянами (плиштим).

Фараон, однако, быстро пожалел о потере стольких рабов и бросился со всем своим войском преследовать евреев. Сыны Израиля были сильно напуганы, увидев приближавшихся египтян, но Б-г их не оставил : Моше поднял свой посох, и Б-г заставил воды моря, стоявшего на пути евреев, расступиться, давая им возможность пересечь море как по суше.

Фараон, чье сердце опять ожесточил Б-г, приказал своей армии преследовать сынов Израиля, но воды моря сомкнулись и поглотили всех египтян. Моше и его сестра Мирьям исполнили вместе со всеми евреями ликующую песнь благодарности Б-гу. Когда через три дня пути вода в источнике Мара оказалась горькой, и народ начал роптать и возмущаться, Моше чудесным образом сделал воду пресной. В Маре евреи получили несколько заповедей (мицвот). Народ стал роптать на Моше и Аарону из-за голода, говоря, что лучше было бы остаться в Египте, где хоть еды было вдоволь. Тогда Б-г послал им манну (ман) - чудотворную пища, падавшую с неба каждый день, кроме Субботы (шабат). В пятницу, однако, выпадало двойное количество, чтобы хватило и на шабат. Часть мана сохранили как реликвию для будущих поколений. Когда евреи вновь взбунтовались из-за жажды, Моше чудесным образом добыл воду из скалы. Затем на евреев напало племя Амалека. Моше поручил Йегошуа руководить сражением, в то время, как он сам взывал к Б-гу, который в итоге даровал евреям победу.



Rav Yitzchak Zilber (in Russian) Rabbi Dovid Grossman (in English)