Beshalach

By Cantor Heather Hoopes Seid

 

(Note: This commentary on Parshat Beshalach is written to give an impression of

what is seen in Torah and help us reflect on the use of poetic structure in our tradition.)

 

         And when Pharaoh said “Let them go,” they left.

    What does it feel like to          leave everything you know?

How does it feel to          carry with you                your past on your back?.

    Do you cry? Do you yell?             Do you fear? Do you tell?

They cried.            They yelled.             They feared.

    And they             SANG! They sang!

Sing! Sing a song. Make it loud. Make it Long. Sing to the Lord a New Song!

    Facing a sea              on this side and that

they opened           their mouths            and sang.

    Leaving certainty and               facing an unknown future

they opened          their hearts             and created.

I don’t know that I could have used my voice in that way at a time like that.

    For many years I was            paralyzed by my own fear.

Unable to move.            Unable to act.             Unable to vocalize.

    What lies ahead?        What have I left?

What if I mess           up my future          in an irreparable way?

    What if I’m not worthy           of this kindness bestowed?

What if…             what if…             what if…

    My whole life has been                riddled with “what ifs”

that have kept me                from untold,              unknown futures.

עׇזִּ֤י וְזִמְרָת֙ יָ֔הּ וַֽיְהִי־לִ֖י לִֽישׁוּעָ֑ה זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ אֱלֹהֵ֥י אָבִ֖י וַאֲרֹמְמֶֽנְהוּ׃

    “Hashem is my strength           and my song.

And G-d has become               my salvation.            This is my G-d

    I will enshrine.              God of my ancestors

    I will exalt.”

If only this phrase could             penetrate my             deep-seated anxiety.

    Push me out of my          fears.

G-d has strength.            G-d has song.              But is it my strength?

    Can I sing that song?            I doubt…regularly.

Can someone with doubt tap into G-d’s strength?            Are we allowed?

    Does it take only faith           to cross a sea of doubt?

Perhaps I’m the only one who feels this, but I would not be able

to pass through ocean on either side while being chased

down on my faith in G-d alone.

I’ve tried that.             I freeze up.           And then feel less than

    for not believing hard enough            for not trusting implicitly enough.

Said Rabbi Harold M Schulweiss ztz’’l, “In our faith, you are not born with

original iniquity              that damns the earth—you are created with original

    potentiality to             sanctify the world…

You are G-d’s         relevance               and therein your relevance.”

    Ozi v’zimrat yah          עׇזִּ֤י וְזִמְרָת֙ יָ֔הּ

My relevance.            G-d’s relevance.            My relevance.

    My strength.                   G-d’s strength.

    My strength.

      Ozi.   .עׇזִּ֤י

Place a period where you must to remind yourself that your strength is

    G-d’s strength               is your strength.

The strength must come            from you.        It lives there

    in the deep waters            of your soul

Waiting for you to remember to take a step forward toward change.

And v’zimrat yah?           the Song of G-D?           There to help

    remind you              of this feedback loop.

What does it feel like           to leave             everything you know?

If you have found your strength within, is that even the right question?

And when you open               your mouth to ask             which song will come out?

          עׇזִּ֤י וְזִמְרָת֙ יָ֔הּ וַֽיְהִי־לִ֖י לִֽישׁוּעָ֑ה זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ אֱלֹהֵ֥י אָבִ֖י וַאֲרֹמְמֶֽנְהוּ׃