At the Scene With a Tambourine?
20. Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women came out after her with tambourines and with dances.
כ. וַתִּקַּח מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה אֲחוֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַתֹּף בְּיָדָהּ וַתֵּצֶאןָ כָל הַנָּשִׁים אַחֲרֶיהָ בְּתֻפִּים וּבִמְחֹלֹת:
Ask yourself, if for any reason you were forced to leave your home, never to return, what would be the first thing you took with yourself? A siddour? Food? A sentimental photograph? Your Blackberry? Surely you would take something of high value or use.
This Shabbat is called Shabbat Shirah in honor of this week’s Parashat Beshalah in which Shirat HaYam is beautifully relayed to us. As Benei Yisrael cross the Yam Souf in joy and elation, they dance and sing this very song exalting the name of HaShem. Moshe Rabbenu leads the men while Miriam HaNeviah leads the women with song and tambourine.
Just imagine to yourself this powerful and moving scene. Millions of Benei Yisrael are all standing together amidst an ocean’s worth of water pillared high around them, singing and dancing their hearts out to HaKadosh Barukh Hu. Imagine actually being part of the biggest miracle that ever took place in the world. One would not be able to hold back from singing and dancing in both awe and appreciation. Just picture Moshe Rabbenu reciting each verse and all of Benei Yisrael responding in a unified, booming voice. Imagine Miriam HaNeviah followed by all of the women in Kelal Yisrael with such vigor and enthusiasm playing their tambourines.
Hold on one second. Something is wrong with the picture here. WHERE IN THE WORLD DID MIRIAM AND ALL OF THE WOMEN OF KELAL YISRAEL JUST PULL TAMBOURINES OUT FROM?? They were slaves in Egypt! What does a slave need a tambourine for? The last thing I would consider taking with me after being freed from a 210 year bondage is a tambourine. Benei Yisrael didn’t even have time to bring food; they took their dough with them as it was still in their kneading bowls! Who would even have it in their mind to bring such a trivial thing when they have a family to pack for including all of their neighbors’ gold and silver and even clothing and get ready to enter the wilderness. A tambourine isn’t going to ward off any desert snakes; maybe a spear would be more logical. So why did Miriam and the women of Kelal Yisrael even consider bringing musical instruments with them?
Rashi asks the same question. "Where did the tambourines come from? Why were they brought? The righteous women brought them from Egypt because they knew for sure that HaKadosh Barukh Hu would perform miracles in order to enable their escape, and songs and dances of praise would be their proper response." Look at the Emunah of these righteous women! These nashim sadkaniot were so confident that HaKadosh Barukh Hu would save them in the future that they prepared in advance tambourines and musical instruments so that they can truly praise Him from the bottom of their hearts. There was absolutely no doubt in their hearts that their salvation would come. In the middle of all their deep pain and suffering in Egypt, these righteous women sat there and prepared tambourines to sing to HaKadosh Barukh Hu in praise and thanks.
We must live our lives the same way. We must be so sure that Ribono Shel Olam will always send us a salvation to our suffering to the extent that even within our suffering we are preparing to praise HaShem for that moment when He saves us. Sometimes when we are so engrossed in our own anguish and affliction, we see no way out and begin to feel despondent. Has Ve’Shalom, it should never be this way! If from the beginning we believe that HaShem Yitbarakh will pull through for us and that he will catch us if we fall, we won’t even have the suffering in the first place. It all depends on the level of our Emunah in HaShem. Habakuk tells us that the foundation of the entire Yahadut is וצדיק באמונתו יחיה; that a Sadik lives and endures only through his Emunah. It is easy to look back and have Emunah that HaKadosh Barukh Hu has answered our tefillot, but to live our lives knowing steadfast that HaShem will surely work every detail of our lives out for us ahead of time is truly of its own caliber.
Be’Ezrat HaShem, may we all build our Emunah enough to the level where even amidst our hardships, we are able to prepare ourselves for the moment we can express praise and thanks, song and dance to Boreh Olam when He sends forth Yeshuot for us. May our lips always sing such songs and may our hearts always feel such levels of joy and devekut (connection) to HaShem Yitbarakh. May we always feel His presence in our lives on such a level and may we always have reason to sing and dance!
Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh! This Shabbat and every Shabbat Kodesh, Dance, Sing, Go Crazy for HaShem!!!