latest Post

Two Minutes of Torah: Beshalach - Choosing our Words

One of the common accusations against Rabbis is that we talk too much.  When something can be said in a few seconds we will choose to spend minutes spinning a story and extending the tale in whatever way we can.  The jokes suggest what does it mean when a Rabbi takes of his watch?  Absolutely nothing.  We have a reputation for talking too much.  And perhaps this is a Jewish characteristic of using more words than a necessary. 

In this week's Torah portion as we witness the crossing of the Israelites over the sea and the drowning of the Egyptian army behind them, finally the people are free, with their persecutors behind them separated by the returning waters.  And then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to Adonai, and we get the song at the sea and Moses’ song goes on for verse after verse after verse. 

And it is a beautiful song praising God for delivering the Israelites, celebrating the destruction that has been reeked upon our enemies and exulting God in the words that we recite on a daily basis: Mi chamocha baelim Adonai, mi kamocha nedar bakodesh – who is like you Adonai among the God's people worship, who is like you Adonai majestic in holiness. 

The song is beautiful, but what is striking is that after Moses and the men use all of these words to praise God, Miriam the prophetess, in this context known as, Aaron sister, ‘took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. And Miriam chanted for them: Sing to Adonai, for God has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver God has hurled into the sea’ (Ex. 15:20-21).  That's it; no more words are necessary for Miriam.

Moses takes all of these words to praise God but Miriam boils it down into the necessary words.  Let's sing to God, celebrating God's triumph, and let's note that through the sea God has vanquished our enemies.  Nothing more is needed than that except the dance and music to accompany the song.  Miriam stands as a reminder that whilst we might sometimes have a tendency to elongate a story, sometimes it is possible to be brief.  In her few words she says everything that needs to be said.  And everyone joins in singing with her, remembering her as our leader in song.

About Rabbi Danny

Rabbi Danny
Recommended Posts × +


Post a Comment