By Hazzan Penny S. Myers
In this week’s Torah portion from Exodus, Beshellach, (14:8-31) we read that after the 10th plague was executed, our ancestors fled their dwellings and escaped by night through the desert while being chased by Pharoah’s armies. As they fled, they came upon a body of water obstructing their path. Frozen with fear with this newfound obstacle, our ancestors no doubt felt they would have no choice but to retreat into slavery. Gd tells Moses to raise his arms with staff in hand and the waters will part. Despite the Israelite’s skepticism, Moses does as he’s told and while the Israelites may have cast a collective dubious eye at this absurd instruction, they followed him out to safety to the banks on the other side.
This section of Torah is a beautiful metaphor for pivotal moments in our lives. Oftentimes when faced with obstacles that we cannot easily, if at all, navigate, overcome or control, sometimes a leap of faith coupled with that still small voice inside us will carry us over safely and perhaps to what our own individual ‘Promised Land’ would be; even despite what we originally thought or believed it should be.
This sage advice and counsel of the first female ordained Cantor, Buffalo’s own Cantor Barbara Ostfeld, was once offered to me during a difficult time in my life: “mysterious doors will open for you.” And you know what? She was right! Just as the Israelites sojourned and mysterious symbolic doors opened for them, like the parting of sea of reeds as evidenced in this portion, followed by future Torah narratives including mannah from heaven, receiving the Torah, miraculous water from a rock and so on.
Since I crossed over the other side of one of my life’s obstacles, just as Cantor Ostfeld predicted, mysterious doors did indeed open and new opportunities were presented to me. I am training to be part of Red Cross’s Disaster Services Spiritual team, I’m one final course away from receiving Rabbinic s’michah (ordination) in the Spring, thusly being the first dually ordained Rabbi-Cantor in Western New York, plus other opportunities to teach, lecture and perform keep popping up.
Sometimes, the way out, really IS the way in.
Cantor Penny S. Myers is the Region Chair of Cantors Assembly, Great Lakes and Rivers Region.