By: Rabbi Osher Jungreis
This Shabbos is known as the “Sabbath of Song” because it is in this parsha that Moses leads the Jewish men, and Miriam the prophetess, the Jewish women in singing the song of praise and exultation” to the Almighty G-d following the crossing of the Red Sea. The special song that Moses composed is “Oz Yoshir”, which means “Then Moses will sing…,” teaching us that Moses not only sang at the Sea of Reeds, but he will lead us in song once again when we behold the final redemption — the coming of Messiah. In the interim, we the Jewish people, recite the song of Moses every morning in our prayers as we express our gratitude to G-d.
Miriam the prophetess, not only led the women in song, but she did so with tambourines and drums. From whence did she obtain those instruments? The desert was hardly a place to purchase them. In these instruments are to be found a profound lesson. In the midst of the darkness of Egypt, while enveloped in cruel bondage, Miriam the prophetess prepared drums and tambourines, with the faith that one day redemption would come and give cause to sing and celebrate. It is this faith that Jewish women instilled in our people–it is this faith that enabled us to survive the centuries, and it is this faith that we must summon whenever we find ourselves in situations that appear hopeless.
THE LONG WAY IS THE SHORT WAY
It is written that when our forefathers departed from Egypt, G-d took them via a circuitous route rather than through the path that would lead them directly to the land of Israel. At first glance, this is difficult to understand Why would G-d have us traverse an inhospitable desert where there was no provision for food or water… when we could have passed through the land of the Philistines and be assured of sustenance?
There is an important teaching to be learned here. The Almighty was concerned that we would not be able to withstand the temptations and the pressures of Philistine society–that contact with them might prompt us to return to Egypt…. not only in a physical sense, but in our outlook as well. It is not only from the land of Egypt that we had to depart–more significantly, we had to remove the immorality and corruption of Egypt from ourselves. We had to experience the desert so that we might be recreated, re-shaped, and become the Priestly Kingdom, the Holy nation that G-d willed us to be.
We all must derive a lesson for life from this. That which appears to be short and comfortable sometimes turns out to be arduous and hazardous. Physical risks can be overcome, but once we lose our values and our morals, we lose the very essence of our lives. Accordingly, we must be cautious of those with whom we associate; the neighborhood in which we live; the environment in which we work, and the place where we vacation. We are never to underestimate the deleterious effects of living in a corrupt environment.