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Shvi'i/Acharon Shel Pesach

Thursday, 5 April, 2018 - 12:31 am

A shul had a man in the choir who couldn’t sing.

Several people hinted to him that he could serve in other places, but he continued to come to the choir.

The choir director became desperate and went to the rabbi.

“You’ve got to get that man out of the choir,” he said. “If you don’t, I’m going to resign. The choir members are going to quit too. Please do something.”

So the rabbi went to the man and suggested, “Perhaps you should leave the choir.”

“Why should I get out of the choir?” he asked.

“Well, five or six people have told me you can’t sing.”

“That’s nothing,” the man snorted. “Fifty people have told me that you can’t preach!”

The most well known of the ten songs of redemption is Shirat HaYam, the “Song at the Sea” praising G-d for His miraculous redemption of Israel when He split the Red Sea for them and drowned the pursuing Egyptians in it. The song expresses Israel’s desire that G-d lead them to their homeland and rest His presence among them in the Holy Temple, concluding with a reference to the ultimate redemption. This Friday, the seventh day of Passover, is the anniversary of these events.

Actually, there were two songs. After Moses and the children of Israel sang their song, “Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the tambourine in her hand; and all the women followed her with tambourines and dances. And Miriam called to them: ‘Sing to G-d, for He is most exalted; horse and rider He cast in the sea...’”

The men sang, and then the women sang and danced with tambourines. The men sang their joy over their deliverance and yearning for a more perfect redemption, but something was lacking. Something that only a woman’s song could complete.

Miriam, the elder sister of Moses and Aaron, presided over the female encore to the Song at the Sea. Her name means “bitterness” because at the time of her birth the people of Israel entered the harshest phase of the Egyptian exile. When her infant brother Moses was placed in a basket at the banks of the Nile, she “stood watch from afar, to see what would become of him”.

It was Miriam, with her deep well of feminine feeling, who truly experienced the bitterness of galut (exile and persecution). And it was Miriam, with her woman’s capacity for endurance, perseverance, and hope, who stood a lonely watch over the tender life in a basket at the edge of the Nile River. Her trust in his mission to bring redemption to her people never faltered. It is she, more than the male patriarchs or leaders of Israel, who feels the depth of our pain.

Miriam and her chorus brought to the Song at the Sea the intensity of feeling and depth of faith unique to womankind. Their experience of the bitterness of galut had been far more intense than that of their men folk, yet their faith had been stronger and more enduring. So their yearning for redemption had been that much more poignant, as was their joy over its realization and their striving towards its greater fulfillment.

Today, as we stand at the threshold of the ultimate redemption, it is once again the woman whose song is the most poignant, whose tambourine is the most hopeful, whose dance is the most joyous. Today, as then, the redemption will be realized in the merit of righteous women. Today, as then, the woman’s yearning for Moshiach – a yearning which runs deeper than that of the man, and inspires and uplifts it – forms the dominant strain in the melody of redemption.

May our collective feminine voice beseech the Heavens for that redemption to come speedily in our days! 

Have a good Shabbos and good Yom Tov!

Rabbi Shraga Sherman

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, 




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