Joel Hoffman
Rabbi, Teacher, Columnist

The Haftarah of Beshalach: A Short D’var Torah

Every week one could literally access over 100 d’vrei Torah on the Parasha, but little is written on the Haftarah.  Therefore, I’ve decided to fill this void of writing a d’var Torah every week (blee nedar) on the Haftarah.
SUMMARY: In this week’s Haftarah, Deborah, who is the only woman judge, instructed Barak to lead the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulin in battle against the Canaanites who were oppressing them. The Israelites won the battle, however, the Canaanite General, Sisera, escaped and sought shelter in the tent of Heber the Keninte.  After Sisera dozed off after dinner, Heber’s wife, Yael, took a tent pin and hammered it through his head. The Israelites then went on to kill Jabin, the king of Canaanites. The second part of the Haftarah consists of the Song of Deborah in which she poetically describes the victory over the Canaanites. Chalk two up for the woman as hero’s!
SOME CONNECTIONS TO THE PARASHA: The obvious connection is that in the Parasha the Yom Suf drowns the Egyptians and in the Haftarah the Kishon River sweeped away the Canaanites (Jud. 5:21).  Also, at the beginning of the Haftarah we encounter Deborah under a psalm tree and a palm tree is mentioned in the Parasha (Ex.15:27).
A PRACTICAL INSIGHT: The commentator Radak said that G-d created the Kishon River when He created the world so it could play a roll for the Israelites in their future battle with the Canaanites. Additionally, the Metsudat David added that G-d caused this river to swell at the moment it needed to to sweep away the enemy.  Such statements derive from the Jewish teaching that everything in creation has a purpose.  Judaism also teaches that every person has a particular purpose.  In other words, every person has a particular job to accomplish in his his/her life, and, it is our responsibility to figure out what our particular job is and to do it.
I enjoy teaching Torah and writing, so perhaps my purpose is educating people about the Haftarah so that’s what I’m doing.  Given your knowledge, skills, interests, contextual situation, and/or needs you see, what do you think your purpose could be?
 (The following source was helpful in writing this d’var Torah: Blum, Teaching Haftarah, A.R.E. Publishing, 2002)
About the Author
Joel E. Hoffman is ordained as a rabbi, but works as a special education teacher, and in his free-time he teaches and writes about Judaism.
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