Parshat Beshalach: Leadership From Within

January 26, 2024
BBYO Weekly Parsha


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This week, we finally reach the end of Israelite slavery with Parshat Beshalach. Parsha Beshalach has some pretty famous events—the Israelites escaping Pharaoh, crossing the Red Sea, and rejoicing in song with Mi Chamocha. But the unspoken hero of Beshalach is Miriam, firstly known as Moses’s sister. When first introduced in the Torah, Miriam’s name is unknown and she is referred to as “his [Moses’s] sister”. For the next 80 years, Miriam would look after and protect him. After the Israelites historically crossed the Red Sea, Moses led them through the desert on the way to Israel. She watched Moses from afar as he continued to lead the people through the desert, and then led a nation that did not know their identity yet. Moses was feeling lost and uncertain of where to take the Israelites. But then, Miriam remarkably picks up a timbrel and starts to dance. The women follow, picking up more timbrels, dancing, and starting to sing. She is now referred to as “Miriam” and a “prophetess”, because of her ability to lead the other women in song shows her high status and leadership, allowing her to finally have her own name.

In society today, women are constantly filling in the gaps that men leave empty. They are forced to show strength from men’s failures because women are rarely given the chance to showcase it themselves. Miriam is not given a name at the beginning of her story and is only known in the context of her brother, a man. She only receives her own name when she does something successful. 

Unfortunately, women are rarely recognized unless they do something great, memorable, or new. Miriam steps into this leadership role to not only help the Israelites but to start her own story and create a name for herself. She continues to empower the women among her, showing that men are not the only ones who can be prophets and have a special connection to G-d. Because of her story, Miriam empowers women to jump into leadership roles and make a name for themself. She has ultimately become a Jewish feminist symbol.

Shabbat Shalom,

Remy Walker, Hudson Valley Region Regional Sh’licha 

Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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