923 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37403

Parshat Beshalach: Pack a Drum – January 26, 2024

Exodus 15:20

וַתִּקַּח֩ מִרְיָ֨ם הַנְּבִיאָ֜ה אֲח֧וֹת אַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶת־הַתֹּ֖ף בְּיָדָ֑הּ וַתֵּצֶ֤אןָ כׇֽל־הַנָּשִׁים֙ אַחֲרֶ֔יהָ בְּתֻפִּ֖ים וּבִמְחֹלֹֽת׃

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, picked up a hand-drum, and all the women went out after her in dance with hand-drums.

Out of all the things one might take upon leaving Egypt, a drum would not be high on my list. Things needed for basic survival: a tent, food, clothes – these are important. Wasting precious packing space on anything but the basic necessities seems a luxury too great to afford. Yet, this was not so for Miriam, who saw it as critical that she take a drum with her into the wilderness. 

There was no guarantee of survival once the Israelites left Egypt. They barely began leaving Egypt when Pharaoh and his army started to pursue them. And even if they did make it out of Egypt, the provisions they were able to pack could not possibly last them for the length of time they would be traveling in the wilderness. Even as the sea split, there was the army of Pharaoh right behind them. The idea that in the midst of such a desperate situation there might be a reason to use a drum, a reason to celebrate and to dance, seems far-fetched.

Yet there was indeed a miraculous salvation, a moment of joy so deep, so unimaginable that the Israelites could only express it in song and dance. Miriam may not have known for sure when such a moment would occur, but she had faith that such a moment of joy would surely present itself. The drum she packed was more than a drum. It was hope itself, and yes, this too was an item needed for basic survival. No matter how bad the situation seemed, she believed, perhaps deep down she knew, that the Israelites would yet again experience profound joy, and when that moment arrived she wanted to be ready.

Office Hours

B’nai Zion Congregation
923 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(enter parking lot from Oak Street)

Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Thursday: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Friday: 10:00am – 3:00pm

Please call ahead to confirm someone will be in the office when you arrive!


Rabbi Samuel Rotenberg: rabbirotenberg@bzcongregation.com

Autumn Clark, Office Manager: office@bzcongregation.com

Phone: 423.894.8900

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