Saturday, January 27, 2024

Parshas Beshalach 5784




Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Beshalach/Shabbos Shirah

16 Shevat 5784/ January 26, 2024


I just returned from a wonderful week in Eretz Yisroel. The main purpose of my trip was to visit our two children who are learning there this year.
However, due to the war and that fact that it is a time of significant challenge and difficulty for Klal Yisroel, I wanted to contribute in whatever small way I could.

Based on the suggestion of friends, I joined a bunch of WhatsApp chats. One is dedicated to posting opportunities in fields and on various kibbutzim to pick fruits or help with basic farming. With so many soldiers at war, there is a need for volunteers to help maintain livelihoods and the Israeli economy.

There is another WhatsApp group for making sandwiches or meals for soldiers, tying tzitzis for soldiers, delivering food, etc. Another group posts opportunities to help families that have been relocated to hotels in Yerushalayim because their communities are too close to the war front. There are posts for babysitters to help overwhelmed mothers and setting up activities for the children. They also post sad information about funerals and Shiva visits for soldiers killed at war.

Every morning and throughout the day my phone would buzz nonstop with holy Jews on these groups looking to contribute in any way they could.
I rhetorically asked a few people if in Ukraine there are similar WhatsApp groups set up for people eagerly looking for opportunities to help fellow Ukrainians suffering from the effects of war.

What a people we are!

A large pile of rusty cars

Description automatically generatedOne of the things I personally did was to join a day trip close to the southern Gaza border, arranged by a wonderful volunteer named Yossi Hoffman.

On the day of the trip, our bus left Yerushalayim and made its first stop outside Kibbutz Takuma, where the vehicles burned on October 7th have been moved to. It’s a frightening and horrendous site. Tens of burned-out skeletons of cars and vans are piled up in a mass junkyard.


A house with a broken roof

Description automatically generatedFrom there we continued to the site of the Nova music festival, one of the main targets of the October 7th massacre. There are rows of pictures of and messages to the victims and hostages. It is absolutely heartbreaking.

Our next stop was at Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the hardest hit areas. The Kibbutz is located along the Gaza border. On October 7th, the terrorists entered the Kibbutz before 7 am and went from house to house unimpeded until the army finally arrived at 1:30 pm. Aside for six, every house on the Kibbutz was destroyed or sustained terrible damage. A third of the population of the Kibbutz was murdered or taken hostage. Even now, over three months later, the smell of incineration hovers above the Kibbutz. In between the burned-out homes, beautiful fruit trees grow as birds chirp peacefully above. It is the cruel contrast of life.

A group of men standing in front of a tent

Description automatically generatedWe were led through the Kibbutz by a resident of the Kibbutz who lived through the horrors of that day. He recounted what happened to each home, relating the name of the family and what happened to every member of the family. This included the home of Kfir Bibas, the cute redhead who recently “celebrated” his first birthday in Hamas captivity. While walking through the Kibbutz we heard powerful explosions nearby in Gaza.

Our final stop was the main objective of our trip, a barbecue for over 200 IDF reserve soldiers on the Magen army base. Everyone who attended the trip paid 400 Shekel to cover the cost of the barbecue. The total cost of the barbecue exceeded 35,000 Shekel. All the extra food was delivered across the border into Gaza later that night. After we ate, there was also a DJ and spirited dancing with the soldiers.

I had the opportunity to speak to a few of the soldiers, including the Rabbi on the base. It was a very enriching and enlightening experience.

I should add, that two of the soldiers from that base were of the 21 soldiers tragically killed this week in Gaza. The battalion is entering Gaza for 12 days at the end of the month.[1]

It was a very special and moving day.


I asked Yossi Hoffman why he invests so much time and effort to arrange these trips when he doesn’t make a penny from it. He replied that as a volunteer for Zaka he witnessed terribly traumatic things on and since October 7th. He feels an overwhelming need to continually contribute to Klal Yisroel to maintain his own sanity and this is part of how he does so.

Yossi also delivers food packages for 4500 soldiers every Shabbos, with most of the food being delivered into Gaza. Each package contains food for two Shabbos meals and costs $36 each. That means Yossi must raise $162,000 EVERY WEEK to maintain his incredible chesed campaign to help our soldiers and enhance their Shabbos while stationed in a most miserable place. Since the beginning of the war, he has raised over $1 million.[2]


During the first plague in Mitzrayim - blood, the Torah relates that Pharaoh turned towards his home and didn’t hearken to the message of the plague. Commentaries explain that Pharaoh had his servants purchase more than adequate amounts of water for the palace. Despite the fact that his country was suffering miserably, he was able to go back into the palace and hardly feel the effects of the plague.

Hamas and our enemies are worthy students of Pharaoh, lacking care or concern even for their own people. What matters most is their evil agenda.
Contrast Pharoah with Moshe who grew up in the palace in the lap of luxury. Yet he left the comforts of the palace to seek out the pain of his brethren and to help them in any way he could.

Moshe, our greatest leader, taught by example the way of the Jewish people. When others are in pain, we don’t close our doors and slink back into the comforts of our own homes. We worry for each other and concern ourselves with the collective pain of our people. This is especially true as the world hypocritically demonstrates indifference to our suffering.

As the signs and messages on the busses say throughout Eretz Yisroel, ביחד ננצח - Together we will be victorious.[3]


Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

         R’ Dani and Chani Staum      







[1] The following video is about the two soldiers who were killed this week (please note that the background music has Kol Isha):

As the battalion prepares to enter Gaza, the Rabbi of the battalion who I met sent me the following information for those who wish to donate to their security:

The campaign for fundraising for the Meler Battalion has launched! Together we will reach the goal to equip all our soldiers with protective equipment:
For donations:

[2] The following video explains more about the incredible Shabbos package given to the soldiers each week:

The following is the link for Yossi’s ongoing campaign to bring meals for the IDF for Shabbos:

In addition, I can give Yossi’s WhatsApp number to anyone who would like to contact him directly for more information.

[3] Please note that I am happy to directly share the links or further discuss these important causes with anyone who would like. Please email me at: