Behind us was a wall of fire, beyond which an attacking army waited for its chance to bring us back to slavery. In front of us, a sea of water. Legend has it that as Moses prayed, God called to him and said, “Moses, why are you praying – lead the people forward!” The leader of the tribe of Judah walked into the sea, saying the words “Mi Chamocha – who is like You among the gods.” As the waters began to cover his mouth, the soft “Cha” turned into “Mi Kamocha” Who is like You…” and the waters split.
Right now it feels like we’re walking through the sea on dry land. On either side, walls of water threaten to drown us. Behind us is a pursuing army. Ahead of us is freedom.
Right now we cannot falter, we cannot lose faith. We still have to keep walking through this pandemic, because we are not yet on the other side.
But when we get there, just like our ancestors did, we will break out in a song of freedom. We will sing in harmony together.
Then, we will look ahead toward the wilderness and realize that we are still walking into the unknown. Perhaps we will be afraid of that vast expanse. Freedom “from” the pandemic is illusory, temporary. We’ll need a Torah to guide us. That will give us freedom “to” live all the days of our life with meaning, dignity, justice and joy.
Rabbi Ari Kaiman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel.