“Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took up her tambourines, and all the women followed her dancing” (Exodus 15:20).
This was the first of nine special occasions when the women of Israel danced joyfully. Three were when women changed the course of Jewish history. Three were when women enabled men to elevate the Jewish people. And three were when women themselves redeemed Israel.
The first time Jewish women danced, was when the Jewish people crossed the Sea of Reeds and escaped from the Egyptian army. (Exodus 15:20) The Midrash says that Israel was redeemed from Egypt only because of the virtue of Jewish Women.
The second time was when Ruth converted to Judaism, for her great grandson would someday slay Goliath and all the women of Israel danced in celebration. (1 Samuel 18:6)
The third time was when Esther saved the Jewish people who thanked God saying, “You have turned my laments into dancing.” (Psalm 30:11)
The fourth time was when Rachel introduced her husband Akiba ben Joseph the convert to the mystical meaning of the Song of Songs as it says, “How you love to look at the Shulammite maiden as she moves between the lines of dancers.” (6:13-7:1) Rabbi Akiba entered the grove of mystical speculation and emerged unscathed because of her.
The fifth time was when the Hasidic movement began as it says, “Praise the Lord….let all that have breath praise the Lord (Psalm 150) and in the middle it says, “praise Him with tambourines and dancing” (150:4) Hassidim stress joyful praise of God; and Hassidic woman dance at weddings with greater energy and less whiskey than the men.
The sixth time was when the Reform movement began as it says, “Sing to the Lord a new song…praise His name in the dance.” (Psalm 149:3) What is new is the song of Reform Judaism.
The seventh time was when the Zionist movement began as it says, “I will build you up again O virgin Israel and you shall be rebuilt, you shall again adorn yourself and go forth with a joyful throng of dancers.” (Jeremiah 31:4)
The eighth time was when the Feminist movement first gave birth to Rabbis and Hazzanot as it says, “The mountains danced like rams” (Psalms 114:4) A pregnant woman is called a mountain.
The ninth time will be in the beginning of the Messianic Age as it says, “Then shall a young girl show her joy in dance” (Jeremiah 31:13)