Several years ago, when the number of dogs in animal shelters was skyrocketing, someone hit upon a marketing strategy that increased pet adoption exponentially: Rather than names like Spot, Cuddles, or Fido, they gave them celebrity names like George Clooney, ... Never doubt for a moment the tremendous power of language! When it comes to establishing a connection, the names and images we use make a tremendous difference.We see this in our weekly Torah portion, B’shalach, where the imagery the Israelites use to describe God is striking.
We’re finally free! B’shalach details the crossing of the Sea of Reeds and the miraculous transition from slavery to freedom. Immediately upon their journey to freedom, the Israelites commence to complain repeatedly about food and water. By the third time, at Rephidim, the Israelites regret their decision to journey to the Promised Land. “But the people thirsted there for water; and the people grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’” (Ex. 17:3) Here the Israelites begin to express doubt in God and their future. Doubt becomes one of the first realities of freedom.