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Rabbi's Message

02/07/2020 04:50:38 PM

Feb7

 

Dear chevreh,

 

This Shabbat is called Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song, because the Torah reading includes the Song of the Sea, sung by the Israelites after they crossed the Sea of Reeds jubilantly.

 

I’m thinking about collective liberation, and I’m thinking about courage. In Parshat Beshalach, the Israelites arrive at the Sea of Reeds, miraculously cross the sea and take steps forward to becoming a spiritual people. As we get closer to Mt. Sinai where we will receive our Torah, we will not only be physically free, but spiritually free and purposeful.

 

Where is the connection between collective liberation and individual courage? If we only read this week’s story of the sea splitting, we may only see the Divine hand. The rabbis weren’t content with having the miracle come devoid of human agency. They introduce us to Nachshon, the son of Aminadav, who stepped into the water before the sea was split. He couldn’t go backwards; the Egyptians were coming after him. Instead he walked forward, into the water, courageously, up to his knees, his waist, his chest. The second the water came up just over his nostrils, the second when he was fully submerged, at that moment and not a second before, the sea split. And the people were able to walk behind Nachshon to liberation, to a place of singing and joy. [https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/children-of-nachshon/]

 

The rabbis needed to see an act of courage in this tremendous story, because seeing courage inspires us all.

 

Earlier in Exodus, we read about Shifrah and Puah, the midwives who displayed moral courage. They disobeyed Pharaoh’s command, the most powerful leader in the land, and did not kill the Israelite male newborns because their consciences told them otherwise.

 

This week Mitt Romney displayed this kind of awesome courage. Voting with his conscience and against the person who holds the most power in the world is clearly a challenging move. Whether or not we agree with him, we can behold a person acting out of his deepest moral convictions with everything to lose except his sense of righteousness.

 

Have we ever found ourselves in a situation in which, trembling, we make the choice to listen to our inner call which proves to be unpopular? How can we bolster our own moral courage?

 

As we step into a sea of song as a Shabbat community gathering to davven together tonight, let us remember that collective liberation always requires bold individuals to dip their toe in first, resist when necessary, and act in ways which take every ounce of strength possible.

 

On this Shabbat let each of us have the courage to take the first step which could lead to collective liberation.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Diana

Wed, July 8 2020 16 Tammuz 5780