The Torah In Haiku: B'shalach
Au revoir, l'hitraot
We cross the Sea of Reeds and leave Egypt (Mitzrayim) behind us. Or, do we? This haiku includes words in four languages that suggest the departure is not permanent.
Even before the sea is parted, the people protest, "It would have been better to be slaves in Egypt than to die [here] in the desert" (Ex 14:12). A lack of faith? Perhaps, but G-d knows redemption will be difficult for the people to handle. The portion begins with G-d's decision to take the people on a circuitous route because "if the people encountered armed resistance, they would lose heart and return to Egypt." (Ex 13:17).
Mitzrayim is the Hebrew name for Egypt, but also means "narrow places". Who among us has not struggled to escape from a "narrow place", a constriction in our lives? Redemption is difficult, and may never be complete. Perhaps that is why, in our prayer service, we find so many references to the redemption from Mitzrayim. Thousands of years after our ancestors crossed the Sea of Reeds, we still find ourselves struggling to find redemption from mitzrayim.