Beshalakh - Miriam's Song

by Gabby Handler

Gabby Handler participated in Reclaiming Judaism's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Adventure Workshop series
which are available to be hosted by congregations and havurot. A new trend is for students to interpret
their Torah portion through the lens of their interests and talents, perhaps art, drama, music and in Gabby's case, beautiful, powerful poetry.

We had been dragging our tired feet along the burning sand
The dread of not knowing where we would end up
tore at our hearts.

We had been slaves, slaves who had escaped the Egyptians,
but now we were free.

We had taken our tired selves to a calm sea, but was it a sea?
Tall silvery weeds and a thick, green mist
brushed against our arms. We welcomed this feeling
and did not look back.

Suddenly from a far distance we heard the furious cries
of the Egyptians. The sound of their anger hit our spines
the way their whips had done for so many years.
Our fear kept us going.

At that moment, Moses led us into the mysterious water,
but the tide never drowned us. The water swirled around our feet, ankle bracelets of gentle waves
that never held us back from moving, moving, moving.

We heard the wheels of the Egyptian carts sink into the
sticky mud behind us, but this did not stop them
from coming after us.

Our small bundles grew heavier as we trudged on
through the mysterious water. We carried our children
who became heavier and heavier.

The gray clouds above us whispered with encouragement.
“Keep going…Keep going…Keep going…”

We all walked silently, not sure of where we were going.
Through the marshy waters, we could still hear the Egyptians.

On and on we walked, Moses at our lead.
We could hear the Egyptians getting closer.

The crawling waves never stopped beating
against our reddened ankles and sore feet.

Finally Moses turned to us…and we stopped walking.

Through the gloomy mist, a small glimmer of light
began to shine over Moses’ head – a crown of gold.
We stared at the Light, not saying a word.

Moses did the unthinkable. He walked up to the light and disappeared
into its white shadow. The light seemed to shine all around him as he entered into its grasp.

We were angry and afraid. The Egyptians were getting so close, but
suddenly we heard the commanding voice of Moses.


The people stood stiff as stones but I, Miriam, listened to Moses
and obeyed his command. I walked to the wall of light and mist
even though I was afraid. I did not know what I would find on the other side.

I put my hand up to the Light and felt myself yanked into the unwanted mist.
It was Moses who had yanked me. It was Moses who kept calling the people
to come …and finally they all did.

Moses had us all move quickly to the rocks that were far away from the water. We hid behind the rocks in silent fear.
We didn’t know if the Egyptians were still coming for us.

The water threatened to come closer and closer to the rocks. We could hear the Egyptians yelling. The wheels of their carts sloshed through the watery mud.

A huge commotion exploded as the Egyptians arms flailed and their lungs gasped for air. It was too late.
The tide had gone over their heads.

Silence stung the air. We sat in disbelief, still silent
but now safe.

I sat down by myself on a small rock in the shade.

(Verse 20…) Then, I, Miriam the Prophetess, took a timbrel in my hand and led the women into dance.