Shabbat-Table Talks: Beshalah
Remember to pray; remember to act.
When we are involved in a project, taking care of the many things that are
necessary to achieve our goal, we can easily fall into the trap of thinking that
we are solely responsible for our success. We can sometimes forget to pray.
Prayer reinforces the idea that all I do is in God’s hand--without His
providence I will not be able to accomplish anything. Conversely, we should take
action to realize the things for which we pray. For example, if we are praying
for someone’s health, we should also do the things that we can to help that
person. After you have successfully achieved your goals, have the attitude that
it was mainly due to God’s help that you succeeded.
Shemot 17:8-16 (Especially verse 9 and 16)
Now ‘Amaleq came and made-war upon Israel in Refidim.
(9) Moshe said to Yehoshua:
Choose us men, and go out, make war upon Amaleq! On the morrow I will station
myself on top of the hill, with the staff of God in my hand. Yehoshua did as
Moshe had said to him, to make war against Amaleq.
Now Moshe, Aharon and Hhur went up to the top of the hill. And it was,
whenever Moshe raised his hand, Israel prevailed and whenever he set down his
hand, ‘Amaleq prevailed. Now Moshe’s hands are heavy; so they took a stone
and placed it under him, and he sat down on it, while Aharon and Hhur supported
his hands, one on this side and one on that side. So his hands remained
steadfast until the sun came.
And Yehoshua weakened ‘Amaleq and his people, with the edge of the
The Lord said to Moshe: write this as a memorial in an account (“bassefer”)
and put it in Yehoshua’s hearing: Yes, I will wipe out, wipe out the memory of
‘Amaleq from under the heavens!
(16) Moshe built an altar and called its name: The Lord My Banner. He
said: Yes, Hand on Yah’s throne! War for the Lord against ‘Amaleq generation
Prepare by reading the “background for parents” sections. Read the text in
Hebrew with the translation when necessary, or in English. [There are many
interesting points in this passage that your children might raise and question.
Allow the discussion to flow to those questions if that is what the children
How did Moshe respond to the
attack? (Two ways—action and prayer. The lifting up of Moshe’s hands was to
beseech Hashem’s help.)
In what is the Torah more
interested, Yehoshua’s strategy or Moshe’s activities? Prove it from the
text. (The Torah devotes most of its description to what Moshe did on the
mountain and not to what Yehoshua did on the battlefield.)
From the section that we read
what is the main reason for the victory?
Do you have any projects that
you are working on? Why should you include prayer for success as part of your
preparations? (Prayer reminds us that we are dependent upon God for our success
and that we should not expect that we can do everything necessary. It is a
liberating feeling that we must do what we can and as much as we can but that
ultimately it is God who will decide whether we succeed or not. )
for parents: (the approach to aim
for in the discussion questions, not to be read to the children before the
response to the attack was twofold. 1) He sent Yehoshua to handle the military
matter of choosing the men that will do battle (Israel probably did not have
soldiers yet, even though they did come out of Egypt with arms). 2) Moshe would
be stationed on top of the mountain, where he could view the battle and be seen
by the people. He would take the staff of God with him.
division clearly portrays the belief of Moshe and Israel that success in battle
does not come by might alone (nor through prayer alone, for that matter) but
through a combined effort of battle and prayer. This is an idea that recurs
throughout the Tenakh. Interestingly, the very name of Israel’s first military
leader, Yehoshua (lit. God saves), reflects this idea as well.
idea is reflected in the way the narrative continues as well. The Torah reports
that Yehoshua did as Moshe commanded him. Moshe and Yehoshua carried out the
plan. The Torah had a choice which of the two stories to follow--the events at
the battle or the event at the mountain. The Torah chose the events at the
mountain as those that were more critical to the outcome of the battle. We are
not told of Yehoshua’s successful military strategy but of the Moshe’s
strategy to insure his steadfast concentration on his prayer and the
difficulties that he faced. ]
the way, we also should pray for the things that we want. Most importantly, we
should pray that our children turn out well and let our children know that it is
one of the things that we feel it is important enough to pray for. My wife
Michal, upon noticing the fine character of a neighbor’s children asked the
mother what was the secret of her success. She replied that she does three
She listens goes to classes and listens to tapes on parenting and
reflects upon the ideas she hears.
She prays for her children to turn out well
Anytime the household has to make a decision, she will discuss the
decision with her child and end with “let Hashem Guide you in making the right
Hashem help us to raise our children to have the Torah values imbued deeply in
To read last year's Table Talk on Beshalah click here.
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