This Shabbat, Shabbat Shira, we find strength and hope in two strong women: the Prophetess Miriam (sister of Moses and Aharon) and the Prophetess AND Judge Deborah. In the former, upon crossing the Sea of Reeds, “Miriam…took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam sang unto them: Sing ye to the LORD…” (Exodus 15:20-21).
In the latter “Deborah, a prophetess,…judged Israel at that time.” Commanding Barak to take on Sisera’s army, Barak replies:’If thou wilt go with me, then I will go; but if thou wilt not go with me, I will not go.’ (Judges 4:4-8). In both instances we find wise, strong women. Women whose voices are heard, whose voices our people followed. That was then; today we find ourselves in a dilema – strong women whose voices are surpressed. Engaging in Tikun Israel requires us to look back and know from where we came, by discovering the values of our ancestors – together we will know where we are headed.