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Weekly D'var

B'Shallah by Margaret deRouleaux

Imagine you were not free. Imagine you were constrained to one place, unable to leave or to lead a life of your choosing, always forced into a position of servitude perhaps under the lash of your oppressor who demands your labor and subjugation with little or nothing in return.  But then imagine that through some miracle - perhaps a series of very unlikely and remarkable events, you are free! You no longer will be subjected to the cruelty of bondage. An incredible moment, yet, you have been enslaved so long, you really don’t know which way to turn, in fact you have little clue to what ‘freedom’ means.

But through another miracle, you have a leader, who will guide you to a much better life, with food and shelter for you and your family.  All you need do is believe and follow.  All you need is to have faith that this leader knows what he’s doing and can really save you from your strife.

Suppose you agree to follow, and with tremendous hardship gather your family, animals, meager goods, whatever you may have and follow this man who appears to have some kind of light guiding him to a better place. You don’t really understand but it’s almost at a level of “what have I got to lose” - so you march out with many others into the desert - into the unknown.  In the back of your mind, there’s always the thought that although this may be extremely difficult, almost impossible, it just may be leading to better things. So you continue on.

It’s a very hard journey. There’s hunger and thirst. Yet somehow, food and water miraculously appear!  There are battles and skirmishes with grave danger; yet somehow, you survive. The march is arduous and the ruler from which you and your people have escaped, has decided to chase you down to re-enslave you. After all you’ve been through, you can’t imagine again being a slave, a drudge, someone with no worth. You also can’t imagine being slaughtered in the desert. 

But there is no path other than through an enormous body of water. How can you and all these people get through that to escape certain annihilation?

For some reason, miracles have accompanied you on this journey and now, at a moment of almost certain death, one of epic proportions appears before you: the waters part enabling all waiting to escape to pass through to the other side. As the elders, the children, the families with their animals and belongings march to the other side, their pursuers are consumed by the now closing waters. The slaughterers have perished; the freed people have escaped.

Now imagine the joy!  All fear is erased; your elation overtakes as you join in the Shirah - a song of gratitude. The women gather musical instruments and with great triumph and enthusiasm everyone sings and dances at the wonder of the good fortune bestowed on them by  … Whom?

The song tells us. It is a song to our mighty and everlasting Elohim - the one who gives us all life; the One who gives us everything. It is no longer imagined; it is real.

It is this song we chant today - the Shirah of B’Shellah - with gratitude to the One who rescued us from bondage then and continues to rescue us from the trappings of sadness, illusion, pain and suffering and continues to lead us to freedom now.  Let the miracles continue to accompany you as the story continues. Sing your own song of freedom - sing it loud and clear - as you live it every day in faith and the comfort of the arms of HaShem.

Shabbat Shalom

Mon, February 6 2023 15 Shevat 5783