Miriam the prophetess … took the tambourine in her hand; and all the women followed her with tambourines and dances.
And Miriam called to them: Sing to G‑d…
YES, on the 15th of Nissan, and this coming Saturday, March 27th, Passover begins at sundown.
Each year growing up, we would have a big Passover feast with my parents and both sets of grandparents; we even sat in the dining room! It was lovely. We celebrated the Jewish holiday, drank Manischewitz wine, ate a bunch of onion flavored matzah, and enjoyed a wonderful brisket. However, I didn’t know what a Seder was. That religious thing where people spoke in Hebrew and said stuff? That wasn’t for us. That was for other families. We ate… that was good enough.
I am thankful my mother put the huge festive meal together each year. She worked full time at my dad’s dry-cleaning store, and my recollection is she did almost all of the cooking and preparations herself. After my grandparents passed away, the Passover dinners stopped. I felt a little, just a tiny, little loss. But really it had barely any relevance to me.
Of course, now that I’ve fallen in love with Judaism and being Jewish, it’s all different. I admit though, that I don’t have a huge love for the holidays. To be perfectly frank, I feel reluctance anticipating the long set of Seder readings, going through the numerous rituals, dipping bitter herbs, and waiting to eat! I anticipate this attitude too will change in time, and one day I will come to enjoy it.
For now, if not the Seder itself, I am very taken with the meaning of Passover.
Passover informs me, and in fact asks that I repeat every year, to the children and to myself, that G-d, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, took me…took us… out of slavery.
I trust G-d. Belief and trust were once a huge questionable mish-mosh to me. This too has all changed. Now, in my times of distress or fear, I remind myself of this G-d who is powerful, who loves, cares, and frees us. Who took me/us out of slavery with a strong hand and outstretched arm.
BUT, glorious as that is…here’s my special favorite story.
Who does that?!
I mean, their lives and certainly their freedom were at dire risk. Who wants to tarry a moment longer, certainly not for musical instruments! And on top of that, who needs anything extra to carry while running for your lives?! And yet, there it is, right there in Exodus in the Torah.
How did the women of this generation know to take tambourines out of Egypt, when there was barely enough time to take food? The righteous women of the generation were certain that God would perform miracles in the desert, so they brought the tambourines out of Egypt. (Rashi – Exodus 15:20)
The women prepared for celebration. Their active defiance of fear, their anticipation of G-d’s miracles… perhaps that itself brought about the redemption.
In the times of covid, I sing a song with myself below. The song is sung in Hebrew and signed in American Sign Language and also a little Israeli Sign Language.
I invite YOU ALL to sing along!
I am eager for the day, coming soon, when we can sing together in person
Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu ya’aseh shalom aleynu
Ve’al kol yisrael
He who makes peace in heaven
He shall make peace upon us
And upon all of Israel
And say Amen
Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women came out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam called out to them, “Sing to the Lord, for very exalted is He; a horse and its rider He cast into the sea.” Exodus 15:20-21
Chag Pesach Sameach – Happy Passover! ©
p.s. Special thanks to Larisa Aranbayeva and Ido Gabriel Achrak who helped develop the American and Israeli signed versions of the song!
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Passover Meal/Sebastian Maniscalco: Aren’t You Embarassed: Very funny Youtube video from an Italian guest at Passover meal. Photos all created on Canva.com, Videos by Zack Silverman, Savannah Kenvin, and Mark Silverman