Some lessons in life resonate long after we’ve walked through the original experience. They don’t fade away with the gift of time; instead, they continue to push their way into our daily existence. The Torah, in a way, plays the same role as those phrases.
The Song of the Sea is a call to all of us to find that moment when we can sing out in God’s glory. Obviously we’re not all going to literally have a sea split and walk through it, but each and every one of us is likely to experience some moment of awe in our lives if we pay attention long enough.
I have a love-hate relationship with Passover. This isn’t because of the cooking, cleaning, separate dishes, or any other preparation. But because Passover only comes once a year, past holidays stick out in my memory, and all the emotional baggage attached to them.
About a year and a half ago, I was getting ready to officiate a bar mitzvah service, and one of the guests stopped me in my tracks when he asked, “Are you Steven Posen’s daughter?” Here I was, clear across the country from my childhood community, and I was recognized for who I’ve come from.
When you think about it, it’s really Pharaoh’s daughter who is the savior of an entire nation. Why? Because she witnessed oppression with her own eyes and acted on what she saw: people are people. As we once again approach Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, perhaps this is a reminder for all of us in all times.
There are things which only those closest to us can say. Our Torah portion this week reminds us that the greatest blessing is to have someone who cares about you point out your missteps so that you have the opportunity to improve.
When the person next to you on an airplane asks what you do for work, what do you say? Our Torah portion this week reminds us that the ultimate show of respect is first to respect yourself. That’s how we bring blessing into the world.