That moment of our crossing the sea, our birth day. What did it feel like, smell like, sound like? What was the score of our liberation? This week’s Torah portion lays the foundation with the names of our liberation from slavery. I am blessed to study, distance learning with Aleph‘s Reb Ori Har, who taught us wisdom from the text on crossing the sea: Pharoah drew close, he drew US close to the Heavens, to our Creator. Ori asked her students to close their eyes and be there. (I did not close them, but somehow was there). I was at the border of freedom, at the mouth – but the breath, the word has not yet escaped time’s lips. The salt air, the mud, the reeds, and a stiff breeze all assault skin. Eyes tear and I hear the lambs bleat. Then the horn of war blasts and all becomes insanity. The sun glints on weapons – and the waves, which seem like knives too.
But what I really remember were the horses. Sweat steamed off them, and foam from their mouths, and terror in their eyes as their riders urged them on. Waves crash, children scream, and so do those horses. And there was no way out for them or me. Time stands still. I look up to the heavens. Everyone does. There is One way out, only upwards – and i finally can see the source of that light that glints off the animals flanks and the waves and the steel. I am aware and in awe. And here a ladder stretches with it’s foundations in the sand and it’s head reaching for the heavens- it is entirely made of light. Why did I never see it before? I feel as tall as the ladder. I hear Moses calling: “Lo tira-u” – do not fear, and fear and vision collide. And then the wind blows so hard, and my body splits the wind whipping so hard that some of my breath blows away, and my skin pushes into flaps. Ruach, wind, spirit, nefesh, breath – is within and without. Water is also within me and without. And the water pushes off the sand, and I will be free.
Return and return and return, waves whisper upon the sand
And the light crashes and scatters off iron, and horses and warrior men
and I am caught between that wave and a very hard land,
where can I turn? my soul cries upward to You. Don’t be afraid he cries, “Lo Tira-u!”
Chorus: And the awe and the fear crash in me, freezing space and time
I lift my heart to the heavens so blue: there find hope, so sublime
Let me open to possibilities, inspiring True in my mind
If ev’ry beat of my heart is a miracle, why not this, why not You, Mi Chamocha ba-elim Yah?
And the hard wind pushes my skin, and takes my breath away, can barely breathe, Ruach Elohim!
I hold my little ones close, don’t take them, please oh please
And the horses sweat and they snort, the whites of their eyes mesmerize
And the force of the wind pushes water off sand, going home, I am free, so surprised!
Ozi, v’zim’rat Yah Ozi!