Beshalach–“This is my God”

“This is my God” (Exodus 15:2)

The Song of the Sea begins with a simple, powerful affirmation of God.  These words, “Zeh Eli,” are referred to in the midrash as “the pointing finger”: a particularly vivid and true apprehension, the portrait that really captures its subject.

A remarkable passage from the Talmud attributes this vision particularly to the women who gave birth clandestinely in Egypt.

“When the Israelite women came to give birth [in Egypt], they did so in the fields, and God sent one from the highest heavens to clean and tend them, like a midwife.  So when God appeared to them at the Sea, they recognized him first, as it is said, ‘This is my God . . .’”  (B. Stotah 11b)

Avivah Zornberg, comments “[T]he women recognize their midwife when God appears over the Red Sea: what they have experienced of love and care in their own moment of crossing—at the breaking of their own waters—becomes a key to understanding the miracle at the Sea.” (The Particulars of Rapture, 223)

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