D’var Torah (A bit of Torah study from Rabbi Feingold) Beshallach
In this week’s Torah portion, we come to the story of the parting of the Red Sea, but throughout the Torah, it is referred to as Yam Suf, which translates to Reed Sea. It is not known if there was a mistranslation along the way or if the Sea carried more than one name. Apparently there are red algae blooms that could account for one of the names, and the Sea does have areas, particularly in the north near Egypt, with many reed plants as well. This area is often thought of as the site of the story in this week’s parasha. At the southernmost tip of Israel is the city of Eilat, sitting on the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, an extension of the Red Sea. In the 1970s, when Israel had possession of the Sinai Peninsula, I was twice on camping trips which took us further down the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, until we finally reached and snorkeled off of the amazing coral reefs of Ras Muhammad, the tip of the peninsula that is situated on the northernmost point of the main body of the Red Sea. Everything south of Eilat is now in the possession of Egypt, as it had been prior to the 1967 Six Day War. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in a peace deal in 1979.