Beshalach 5781 – The Joy of Judaism

By: Michael Carr

Did you know that when someone starts on a journey, it’s actually good luck to throw a shoe at them?”   Tony Hsieh in Phil Knight’s, Shoe Dog, 2016

A belief in one G-d, observing Shabbat or other Jewish holidays, baking a challah, or simply performing a mitzvah, is a joyful expression of Jewish values. Torah has shaped, influenced and caused our Jewish culture and values to evolve. This Parsha helps us understand the power of belief, fear, freedom/liberation and victory.

In this week’s Parsha Moses leads the Israelites on a circuitous path into the wilderness after escaping Egypt by a pillar of fire at night and pillar cloud during the day (just like the movie-right?). So as we know lotsa stuff happens on the way out of Egypt like the hot pursuit by the Egyptian army, the Sea of Reeds parts and Israelites walk through a body of water. G-d also sends manna to feed the Israelites and along the way Amalek attacks the Israelites (after all what would it be like to not have additional road-blocks on the way to freedom.)

Passover is joyful so let’s reflect in this D’var on the joy we celebrate today and many centuries ago when the Passover story started


 Israelite slaves under Pharaoh, didn’t know of any life other than slavery.  Israelites were beholden to Egyptian culture, values and indentured servitude that no one questioned for fear of retribution. Ones belief about life was all about this slavery thing over many decades.  Slavery driven by Pharaoh who imposed social, spiritual (idolatry) and physical conditions throughout generations of Israelites believing this ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable lifestyle’.

Every morning when one awoke was their gratitude and thankfulness for being alive or for the ‘excitement’ of a day filled with back breaking hard labor with maybe a little water and something to eat?

We celebrate freedom today as we did back then after we crossed the Sea of Reeds and escaped a mighty Egyptian Army that perished.


G-d taught us strength in not turning back; heck why would anyone want to go back to the physical, emotional and evil times that were key components of the banality and normality of oppressive slavery?

In fact we celebrated our liberation from Egypt after crossing the Sea of Reeds and Miriam sang and danced with other women.  The celebration and joy experienced was about G-d’s help that freed us from the demise of our oppressors.  In fact we celebrate, honor and remember that moment of freedom from crossing the Sea of Reeds when we stand at the end of the daily Shacrit prayer.


G-d wanted everyone (Egyptian and Israelite alike) to know and believe in the one almighty. Many may continue to believe in one G-d  especially when daily small miracles go unexplained

G-d showed us freedom along with a covenant because he had great
plans for us as long as we followed the prescriptive guidance HE
provided and asked us to follow.  We can now find joy in
transference – with teachings of Torah and Mitzvot to practice daily.

In our desire for freedom our joy was liberating because of the adventure.

In our search for freedom our joy was illuminating from the miracles witnessed.

In our thirst for freedom our joy was enabled by the spirit of G-d.

Today we celebrate and remember these times with joy.

Seth Godin wrote, “If expectation is a killer of joy, it is also the shortest route to disappointment.”  Like our Israelite relatives before us, HOPE is fuel that can move us forward and amplify our beliefs about the Joy of freedom, liberation and victory in our lives today.  Good Shabbos!