Miracles abound! This week’ Torah portion Parshat Beshallach is filled with miracles. Not only are the Children of Israel finally on
their way toward freedom, God parts the sea for them, finishes Pharaoh and his army, and ensures the survival of the Israelites!
Yes indeed miracles, abound. The army of the Pharaoh is no match for God’s strength and power over the natural forces of the sea!
Time and again the message of our Torah is a message of hope for those who do not possess power or wealth. God’s Divine Presence is
the strength that we need to overcome tyranny. The weak come to challenge the strong especially if they pervert the Divine attributes
of Justice and Truth and Compassion. Time and again in the history of the Jewish people this is the motif, whether it is the Israelites
facing the threat of the Egyptian army or the Maccabees against the Syrian-Greek army. Even in our own day and time Hitler is gone
but the Jewish people have survived when the Nazis have not. Time and again when we place our faith in our common belief of One
Uniting Divine God that we speak of in our Sh’ma prayer then the Jewish people can be a force for good in our individual lives and in
the life of the world.
We have celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday this week. He understood this notion; “We know through painful experience
that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by oppressed. That is why Moses’ words, “Let my
people go,” has such resonance to this day.
And the miracles of this week’s Torah portion, the miracle of the sea,the miracle of manna given in the desert to feed the body are to
help the oppressed stand taller and bolster their faith and nourish them. These miracles are meant as a sign of God’s Presence in their
lives. Sometimes it is hard to see miracles in our own lives today. Miracles abound but we are often too jaded, too faith-less to let our
souls see them. Our bodies may be nourished but our souls are starving.
God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness. Manna came six days out of seven to feed the bodies of the Israelites. But on the
seventh day no manna fell. Instead the Israelites received a double portion to last through Shabbat. Manna sustained our bodies in
the wilderness but Shabbat sustained our souls through the millennia. Shabbat allows those of us who are oppressed to see our
humanity and allows us to imagine a different kind world where we live with the dignity of those with power and wealth and leisure.
So grant to yourself what God granted you so long ago, the freedom found in the crossing of the Yam Suf-the Sea of Reeds. The
miracle of manna in the desert that this week’s Torah portion describes in such detail. Grant yourself a Shabbat to refresh your soul
and your spirit. The miracle of Shabbat that will nourish your spirit, your faith and your dignity. The miracle of Shabbat that will help
your soul see the many miracles that abound still in our day and time