“G’ulah” means “redemption.” In this prayer, we remember the greatest example of Israel’s redemption, our escape from Egypt through the parting of the Red Sea. The story of our redemption is the release from slavery and oppression and the beginning of our history as a free people. As we celebrate our redemption, it is only natural to remember those who are still in bondage. We resolve to be not only the redeemed, but also to be the redeemers for others who are not yet free.
Mine was the opportunity to travel to Mississippi in 1964 at the peak of the civil rights struggle and to witness the human spirit striving to be free; I saw a police state — I saw signs — the battered faces beaten by white policemen. I saw the charred pieces of a cross — I saw the rubble of a church burned to the ground. I was filled with anger ... but I found something else too. I saw people longing to leave Egypt. We attended a freedom sing ... according to the usual custom, the group formed a circle and sang “We Shall Overcome." One of the verses I had never heard before: "God is on our side — deep in my heart, I do believe God is on our side....” The same God who was with us when we marched out of Egypt was with them in Mississippi and is with us now.
-Rabbi Jack Stern, Jr.
Westchester Reform Temple Siddur
Wherever we live, it is probably Egypt. There is, there really is, a better place, a promised land. And there is, there really is, a promised time. And there is no way to get from here to there, from now to then, except by joining together and marching—and sometimes stumbling—through the wilderness, watching, this time, not for signs and wonders, but for an opportunity to act.
-Adapted from Michael Walzer, Exodus Revolution
RAC L’taken Seminar Shabbat morning service
Rabbi Judah said: At the sea, each tribe said to each other, “You go into the sea first!” As they stood there bickering, Nachshon ben Aminadav jumped into the water. Meanwhile, Moses was praying. God said to Moses, “My friend is drowning—and you pray!”
“What can I do?” Moses asked.
God responded, as it says in the Torah, “Speak to the people of Israel and tell them to go! Raise your staff…
- Talmud Sotah 36b