The Daily Portion
To sing in the middle of the journey, before we reach our destination

Do we only sing when our situation is perfect? Only after we reach our goal? Road songs are about growth, faith and hope. So let's sing.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

מצליחה להביא את הטוב מכל המגזרים. סיון רהב-מאיר
מצליחה להביא את הטוב מכל המגזרים. סיון רהב-מאיר
צילום: אייל בן יעיש
"Mommy, are we at the beginning of the corona, in the middle of the corona, or at the end?" my daughter asked me a few days ago. Faced with this question – which all of us are now asking, even while full of great hope that we are finally at the end – the following words can help. The were written by Nehama Yakabovitz, a teacher from Safed, to her students as they received their mid-year report cards:

"On Shabbat we read the moving words from the song that the nation of Israel sang after crossing the Red Sea. What is the power of this song? Indeed, the children of Israel had not yet arrived in the Land of their inheritance. The road ahead was still long, yet they sang a song about what they had already achieved with the splitting of the Red Sea.

"Many years in the desert still awaited them, but do we only sing when our situation is perfect? Only after we reach our goal?

"There is something special about road songs. They accompany growth, development, faith, and hope.

"Half a year of study has passed, a challenging half year for students, teachers, and parents. The mid-year report cards that are being distributed now are a celebration of desire and not of reaching a destination. The effort each day that is renewed, to try again, to get dressed each morning without anywhere to go. Look back. If we have succeeded in getting this far, why shouldn't we sing?"

And let's look at what this past Shabbat Torah reading tells us about the ups and downs of journeys:

It's the same people. Exactly the same people, and it's almost impossible to grasp. In this past Shabbat's Torah portion of Beshalach, we observe people singing the Song of the Sea. From their mouths we hear majestic words such as "The Lord will reign forever and ever" and "Who is like you among the mighty, O Lord?" Yet later in the same Torah portion, from the mouths of the very same people, we hear the following words: "If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat over pots of meat," and also: "Why have you brought us up from Egypt?".

How can those who a moment ago went out from slavery to freedom and sang about it with tremendous joy suddenly claim that Egypt was just "pots of meat?" How do they dare to say that Moshe and Aaron are taking them to die in the desert and that it would be preferable to return to Egypt and to die there?

The Torah, by intention, does not only tell us only the uplifting side of the story. It rather throws the truth in our face, even when it's unpleasant: a person can leave Egypt and witness the splitting of the Red Sea, yet ignore the miracle that happened a moment earlier, seeing only what is lacking and complain. We can always choose upon what to place our focus, whether to sing the "Song of the Sea" or to mutter the "Complaint of the Sea." This was true for our ancestors during the Exodus from Egypt and remains also true for us, in this very moment.

• Translation by Yehoshua Siskin



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