Torah Study Notes 1-23-16

January 23, 2016

RB will not be here next week – RG will preside.

page 437

A very dramatic Torah portion that includes The Song of the Sea – which may be older than the rest of the writing.

14:26: Hold out your arm the over the sea… the Eternal hurled the waters over the Egyptians. A theological problem as to joy in the suffering of others. Schadenfreude. See:

PC: There is a contradiction here with the commandment of not committing murder. Are we obligated to kill someone for our safety?  But these are Egyptian soldiers and the deaths are arguably in self defense. Is all war that way?  SF: Over the years this has been a very rich topic for the rabbis. Even punishment should not come from anger but from a place of love. LL Modern warfare tries to be selective in terms who is killed – hence “targeted killings” and drone strikes designed to avoid civilian casualties. This is a basic tenet of the Israeli army.  RB: The midrash is “Do not rejoice as these are my people.” This was a display of power “shock and awe.” How do we envision the “Wall of water..?” RB: There is an apocryphal woman who is present when they enter and when they leave Egypt – named Sarah Bat Asher. She describes the wall of water as “Like lighted windows.” See The Jewish Woman’s Archive at

Note that this section is attributed to the P author439 I will sing to the Eternal… See Essay p. 451 and 452. A poem of triumph. Some of the cadences and rhythms here are resonant of the poetry attributed to David. This images God as a warrior and as humans, created in God’s image, we have an element of the warrior within us. AS: This reads like a screenplay. Not surprising that it became the basis for some great films.  Note that the waters “turned back” on the Egyptians and they are “hurled into the sea.” LL These conflicting impulses are what make us human – and hence complicated and interesting. SF: The moral code of the Torah is designed to control our baser impulses. These impulses are not to be suppressed – they are to be channeled. RB: Note that the next leader is Joshua who leads a military campaign.  The last line of the poem refers to “ransom” which is akin to bailing someone out of jail.

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