A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
In Exodus 15:20, Miriam leads the Jewish women in song after the splitting of the Red Sea. Actually, if you look at the verses closely, she started while still in the middle of the sea! And it wasn’t just singing: these women had musical instruments ready for just this moment!
Imagine if you have to leave your home—not an apartment you’ve been in for a few months, but a home you and your family have lived in for over 200 years! You are in a huge rush—so huge that the dough you’ve just finished kneading has no time to rise. What will you take with you? I can think of many things I would want to take, and honestly, musical instruments don’t even make the it onto the top 20! Why did the women take instruments? The great transmitter of ancient Jewish wisdom, Rashi (1040-1105), tells us they were so sure Hashem would perform miracles for them and they would want to sing their thanks, so they prepared accordingly. Amazing, isn’t it?
But let’s look at Miriam’s life a little more closely. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of her.
As a young child, Miriam saw that the pain and distress of the Jewish people had led to husbands and wives separating. We’re told she saw that there would be a redemption and there would be a redeemer born, and convinced her father that Jewish couples had to continue building for that future even while today looked dark.
When Moses was born, the whole house filled with light. Everyone knew he was special. Yet when it came time for him to be put in the river, who is the only one who stayed with him to watch and see what would become of him? Miriam, the person who excelled at seeing a glorious future even in the darkest moments.
The women singing with their drums and flutes, led by Miriam, were exemplifying confident faith—looking with confidence into the future and being sure that the future was one of glorious redemption.
This is the legacy we have inherited and this is the one we need as we raise our children. It can be easy to get stuck in the moment with our children and feel frustrated at whatever difficult stage we are currently dealing with. In truth though, we need to look into the future with confident faith, and have the vision and faith to see our children in the future as adults, where the exact same qualities that are so exasperating right now, can be their greatest strengths.
My mother often tells of reading a story from Natan Sharansky’s mother. His mother shared that as a child he was so stubborn and strong-willed that he would gladly remain in the corner all day instead of apologizing for whatever he had done. I’m sure that was incredibly frustrating for his mother—we’ve all dealt with stubbornness and it isn’t easy. Imagine though if his mother would have known how his stubbornness would serve him and the Jewish people as an adult when he spent over 9 years in the Soviet Gulag as a prisoner of conscience!
Confident faith requires us to look beyond the here and now and see the potential for the future.
This is true both in viewing our children’s inherent qualities and also to keep in mind as we make decisions about how to raise them. It’s crucial that we look beyond the short term and envision the beautiful future which will come from each child and each situation. This is the gift of confident faith with which we have been blessed.