Parshat Beshalach: Sent of a Nation

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Crack in the Earth
04 Feb 2009
Arts & Media

Let us split atoms if not hairs.

The ABCs have already been

Split, as have the pithy proceeds

From our last venture together…


Is it any less a miracle when things

Merge together than when things

Split                    apart?


Of course not!

But in this natural-until-proven-innocent

Age of ours, where the purity of a newborn

Child can be diminished to a bacterial woops,

It may take a supernatural split to show how

Even the flow-and-ebb of things together really

Is as miraculous as…well, as miraculous as we

Make it!


Without miracles we would think everything was



Without nature we would think everything was



A true miracle is taking that which is natural and

Making it          miraculous


It happened when

Pharaoh sent out

The people


Strange, almost miraculous,

For it would seem two total

Opposites attract here…


(Pharaoh: the epitome of exile;

Sent out: the epitome of freedom)



An oxymoronic a statement

As “class act” – people with

Real class do not have to act

And people who do, generally

Do not have much real class…)


Ah, but this is true freedom:


There is a freedom, let us call

It Freedom Lite, a fat-free liberation

With fewer calories but also with much

Less taste: this freedom allows for one to

Be free today from the prisons of yesterday;

However, in this freedom there is no fat, no

Taste, the prisoner crawls away with what he

Came (which is really less than what he had),

Broken, angry, sad – the upright man that was

Replaced by the bent back that is… and the cell

Within which he spent an eternity remains as it

Was, a cell: hungrily awaiting its next victim…


Then there is a freedom, a true freedom, where

The prisoner leaves so much stronger than he came:

The warden himself, the epitome of all things cell-

Ular, the master of chain and shackle alone opens

The door, the bars themselves become symbols of

Freedom, the fences themselves become signs of

Exodus, the watchtowers and sirens themselves

Shout out that this here prisoner walks freely,

Proud, his head held high and his bags stuffed

To the brim with all the knowledge, all the riches

All the treasures, all the strengths he has taken

From the unhealthy cell that was to the healthiest

Of cells that is…


Egypt, in the beginning a place of confinement,

A place that would do anything to deny G-d’s

Existence, anything to believe that nature is not

Miraculous, anything to drown the cry of a soul


Ah, but now, today, Pharaoh the leader of this Egypt

Has sent out the people, the leader of exile himself has

Declared freedom…


The people did not leave quietly, decimated, ashamed,

Their souls intact but their bodies beaten and scarred:

No, they left with a boom and bang, the physical as

Complete as the spiritual, sent out by the physical,

Once it’s nemesis, itself: the entire universe knew they

Were leaving, a proud nation heading for Mount Sinai and

The Promised Land


When the body which imprisoned your soul is the one

To send you to freedom, you know you are truly free.

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.