Every Shabbat we recall our Exodus from Egypt, if only for a moment, as we recite the Kiddush over the wine. Even during times of supreme joy, such as on Shabbat, we are compelled to remember that we too were once slaves in the land of Egypt. But sometimes singing a joyous song in times of uncertainty is just too painful. And yet our Torah portion, B’shalach, begins with the words “I will sing to the Eternal – Ashira LAdonai…”
The Midrash, a collection of teachings to help fill in the gaps from the Torah, notices that the Children of Israel “will sing” praises to God but only in the future (Tanchuma Yashan). If you are like me, it may be hard to hold back excitement especially if you just experienced a life changing event. But freedom is not just something that happens once but rather something we must work towards each day. If we become complacent with the freedom of the past, we may never see those who are oppressed today.
The Exodus narrative of going from bondage to freedom is one that should inspire us especially today. It is our obligation to welcome the stranger by singing the song of freedom just as Moses did. It is our mission to help the oppressed dance like Miriam at the shores of the sea. But ultimately, like Nachshon ben Aminadav, it is our responsibility to take to the first step at freedoms shore. If we walk in the path of our righteous ancestors, then we too will continue to sing the song of freedom to God by joining hands and marching together.
Rabbi Lyle Rothman is the Campus Rabbi and Jewish Chaplain at University of Miami Hillel.