Where were we as a People, a few thousand or even a hundred years ago, and where are we today?
Parshat Beshalach – Shabbat Shira – comes after 210 years of darkness and national oblivion.
But Joseph knows that his People will be redeemed, and Moses carries out his bones, as Joseph made his children swear they would do.
Miriam also knows that she and the women of Israel will want to thank God in dance and song, and so packs her tambourine, along with the diapers and the matzah dough.
This “knowing” and hopefulness is in the DNA of our People, but we must give it a voice – like the Song of the Grasses, by Rabbi Nahman of Breslav, reminds us that all of nature, and our very souls, are constantly praising and praying to God.
Last night I joined about 30 brand new young Russian-speaking Olim for an early Tu B’Shvat Seder in Tel Aviv, as blessed winter rains pummeled the city outside. Warming our bodies and spirits with red and white wine, we learned how this obscure date in the Talmud evolved into a both Kabbalistic and Zionistic celebration of the reborn trees and fruits of Eretz Yisrael.
These lovely, talented newcomers to Israel – themselves a miracle of history, after 70 years of Soviet repression of Jewish light, extending to the repression of freedom in Ukraine – are going through their own narrow straits, navigating a new language and life here. But as one couple with two children at home told me yesterday, they know they made the right decision. Being together with other recent Olim, laughing, talking, learning new things about Israel, only strengthens this feeling.
So this Sunday night, let us all set a beautiful table of fruits and bounty in honor of Tu B’Shvat, and thank God for all we have and all the good to come.
And if we can invite someone new to our table, and speak positively about our country and People – words have so much power – then we will surely be creating our own Redemption!
It begins now, Erev Shabbat, with good music and good cooking – good vibes for all of you, my dear friends and family.
Shabbat shalom and a sweet Tu B’Shvat!