Leah’s Blog Parashat Bishalach 2022
2,000 year old coins that say “Freedom to Zion” were some of those unearthed in a cache hidden under layers of earth, stones and grass here. Earthquakes and wars left their mark on our little Tel here in Itamar- the mark of desolation. The Jewish revolt against the Romans wasn’t the only time people lived here on this hill. Going back, Joshua led Efrayim in to settle in this area eight hundred and fifty years before that. The caves, ritual baths (four on this Tel discovered so far),pottery shards, water pits and wells, massive stone storehouses, burial caves and catacombs, olive presses, wineries and threshing floors all give evidence to a rich Jewish history in this place- the heart of Israel. The walled town with its ancient stones hewn so precisely and the stone gate at the fortress were probably witness to the first exile by Sanheriv, First Temple era when Efrayim and Menashe as well as most of the tribes were taken off as captives to the Dark Mountains and beyond. Traveling through time, other people came to live on these stones leaving an impression too- Samaritans, Kutim, Romans and others. In contrast to popular belief that this area was Judenrein (free of Jews) during the Second Temple era – the coin “Freedom to Zion” is considered an important expression of sovereignty. Minting this coin means that if it was found here – there were Jews living here during the Persian Era, the Hellenistic and most importantly, the ROMAN era.-Archeologist Dvir Raviv, senior lecturer of the department of Land of Israel studies and archeology at Bar Ilan university came to do a survey with a team on exactly the deciphering of important indications suggesting the people that lived on this Tel during the ROMAN period of the great revolt- in what had been Judea stretched north into a territory called Aqrabata , the 11th district of Judea- The Great revolt known as the third revolt of Shimon Bar Kochba (132 CE) broke out over the religious restrictions imposed by the Romans. The pinnacle of the uprising and insurrection came when the Romans desecrated and defiled the Holy Temple, building a pagan city over the ruins of Jerusalem- rebranding it into Aelia Capitolina. The romans destroyed 985 villages and fifty fortresses, killing close to a million Jews. In an attempt to erase any memory of ancient Israel and Judea, the Emperor Hadrian wiped the name ISRAEL off the map and rebranded it into Syria Palestina. The objective- to sever the connection of the Jews to their historical homeland. The peak of settlement ended and Jews were dispersed throughout the world.
The question we ask about this parsha- Beshalach is- did Pharoh send the Jews out of Egypt or was it G-d? The lashone of the text uses the –’word Vayehi- a derogatory word- even about a great thing like leaving Egypt. The “bad omen” Vayehi symbolizes a lesson we should all take to heart. The Torah itself is lamenting the so called “power” of Pharoh. We must view our Exodus not as any one man or world power having jurisdiction over us but that Hashem Himself has freed us. No roman can rebrand eretz Yisrael, nor the fictitious attitude of the United Nations General assembly which takes most of its time to attack Israel. The rebranding of ancient Israel into Palestine has become a household word, a college campus fight for “rights” and even ISRAEL has fallen in the trap forgetting who took us out and brought us into this Promised Land. Beshalach has Pharaoh in his desire and belief that he is a G-d, witnessing the miracle at the Sea when his great chariots and horsemen perished- when Miriam took to song, dedicating a prophetic melody that had all of Israel singing the sacred song of the Sea – שירת הים.
They kept telling us over the last two thousand years- Jews- go home.
That’s just what we did.
Shabbat Shalom, Leah