When moving towards any goal as a team or a community every member must contribute something to make that dream a reality.
For the Israelites that were breathlessly dashing towards liberation there were a handful of figures that stood out from the rest in terms of their contribution to making that freedom become a reality.
One of those figures was a young boy named Nachshon ben Aminadav. The story goes¹ that the waters had yet to be divided even though the Israelites were already patiently waiting on the shore. It was only when Nachshon had ventured neck-deep into the water that the sea finally parted and allowed for the rest of the tribes to enter onto the dry soil.
Another one of those figures was Miriam. In Exodus 15:20 it says that she unpacked a timbrel from her bag and began to lead the women in a celebratory song and dance on account of their newfound freedom. It may seem that this is a contribution after the waters were already successfully parted, but that is not the case. Were it not for Miriam inspiring the people in Egypt with the reassuring words that victory was near and that everyone should pack instruments to celebrate — it is very likely that the Israelites might have been too fearful or overwhelmed to even march to begin with.
This brings us to Moses. While Miriam was inspiring and Nachshon was leading — where was Moses?
When Nachshon was entering the water, Moses was strategizing. When Miriam was inspiring, he was organizing. Perhaps neither case was the best time for such a macro-level approach, yet this is what Moses did. In Exodus 15:24 it says that the people, that were now safe and sound, began to complain against Moses about the long and hard path ahead of them.
How did he respond? He strategized and organized. He figured out how to provide the bare essentials for the people. But most importantly, the thing that Moses contributed to the success of the Israelites is that he never quit.
During these turbulent days in which we now live there are many that inspire, and there are many that make rash decisions that succeed, but it is the people that show up day in and day out that actually bring us closer freedom.
May they find the strength to never quit or relent. May we find the grace to continue to be led by these unsung heroes.
¹According to a midrash in the Mekhilta; and Sotah 37a.
The reflection on this chapter is part of the broader 929 project where you read a chapter-a-day (weekends excluded – so only 5 chapters per week) of the Tanakh/Hebrew Bible.
We are working our way towards February 2, 2022.
Where do you hope to be in your spiritual journey by then?