Table For Five – Passover Edition II

The oldest Jewish joke is also the deepest!

With thanks to Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn, Dini Coopersmith, and Rabbis Yekusiel Kalmenson, Benjamin Blech, and Miriam Hamrell.

Plus a bonus commentary from Havah Elisheva Jaffe!

Havah Elisheva Jaffe
Hebrew Discovery Center

This verse from Parashat Beshalach is traditionally read during Shabbat Shirah (Sabbath of Song), named after the song the Israelite women sang in exultation after the splitting of the Reed Sea. This line is also recited on the 7th day of Passover, recounting the events of the 7th day of the Exodus, when the Israelites found themselves trapped between blood-thirsty Egyptians spilling over surrounding mountains and a horizon of vast waters.

Moses led a people which had never experienced traveling more than steps from their masters’ thresholds, had never eaten until full nor slept until rested, had never walked side-by-side with their spouses and children. Just a moment earlier, there was no escape from certain death; nothing else was imaginable. Certainly, it would have been better to remain slaves safely in Egypt!

It was out of this despair, this place of utter horror – in which no salvation was physically “possible,” that the biggest hope was born. The waters of the sea became dry land, the Israelites passed through an aquatic paradise, and the Egyptians were drowned. At this moment, the women sang in exultation.

When crisis occurs, and no light can seemingly break the darkness, we may think that we are forever broken. Shabbat Shirah reminds us during darkening autumn skies that there is always salvation; the events of the 7th day of Passover remind us that we cannot always see how our deliverance will come. Sometimes the safe or logical option makes the least sense. Don’t give up before the miracle happens.

Get the best of Accidental Talmudist in your inbox: sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Read more at the Jewish Journal.

Share to

You Might Also Like

Sign Me Up

Sign me up!

Our newsletter goes out about twice a month, with links to our most popular posts and episodes.