We, readers of Torah in 2019, jump in and out of the Exodus story in different moments, ourselves becoming different characters:
an Israelite slave, toiling in despair,
a midwife, resisting immoral commands,
a hard-hearted Pharaoh, fearful to lose power,
a reluctant prophet, trembling and amazed by the call of a fire that burns without destroying…
Lately, we all know what it is to live through plagues. The plague of gun violence. The plague of corruption. Rising seas and super storms. The pestilence of xenophobia. The darkness of spreading normalized lies, manipulated masses turning away from the light of Truth.
From inside the story, no one knew when, or IF the Happy Ending would come. Living through plagues was just terrifying and painful. Birth-pang, rock bottom suffering, increasing till no one left could stay asleep.
And then the moment came. And everyone got clear — from the prisoner in the pit to Pharaoh up on high — it was time for change.
By then the people were ready. Ready to sprint. Before Pharaoh’s heart could spasm itself shut again.
And they ran. To the edge of the impossible sea. And then God met them with an impossible unexpected miracle.
The sages ask — when did they sing and dance? Was it after they were safely across? Or was it AS they crossed, still not knowing, chariots behind them, walls of water around them? Did they, Could they, dance through the uncertainty of the sea?
If there is any trace of Miriam within me, I ask her, and she tells me…
They sang and they danced along the way. They did not wait for joy. They did not wait for some assurance of security first. Even before they crossed — AS they crossed. Right there in the middle of the story, before that Happy Ending. Even while they were on their way and it was still dangerous and they still didn’t know it would all turn out alright, and they still had a long long way to go – there in the middle of the struggle – they sang and they danced and were free…