This week we cross over the sea from Mitzrayim, to begin our trek towards freedom, Sinai, towards becoming a people in Covenant with God. We will soon shift in our story from individual covenant to God holding covenant with the entire people Israel. B’Shallach includes the Shir haYam, the Song of the Sea, for which we will have a very special singer! Note the unique brick-like layout of the text.
Rabbeinu Tam, a grandson of Rashi, notes that the song is written as a wall built of two sides of bricks – a full brick and a half-brick, or a long phrase and a short phrase. The bricks follow an alternating pattern, built – like a brick wall – for strength. The Shir is our song of freedom! And yet, very soon, the kvetching begins.
Have we ever felt we got the short end of the stick? Have we complained that clearly God isn’t paying attention to me? I read recently a short anecdote: A woman took the Talmudic injunction to recite one hundred blessings every day very seriously. Perhaps she took it too seriously. Not only did she recite the fixed blessings and prayers found in the siddur, she also prayed for a good parking space, enough hot water for her shower, and so forth. Maybe she was becoming a little too reliant on texting God?
Without quite such hubris, are we able to see the blessings and miracles around us – every day? The Baal Shem Tov taught, “The world is full of miracles and wonders, but we take our little hands and cover our eyes and see nothing.” We are taught, “A person must bless God for bad tidings just as he blesses for good” (Babylonian Talmud,B’rachot 33b). When we hear of a death we say Baruch Atah Adonai, Dayan HaEmet – God is the True Judge. For good and for bad, in joy and in sadness, in health and in illness we are with God. Just as that chuppah to come next week will symbolize. An eternal love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apcQHYCocZ4
Wishing you all good health and joyful hearts, every day,