I once went to a “New Agey” Passover retreat deep in the Israeli desert. The woman leading it was a kind of hippie Jewish priestess: long hair, flowy dresses, batik. To end the retreat, she had us all perform this birth ritual she made up based on the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, which we read about in B’shalah, this week’s Torah portion.
The Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, she explained, was actually a birth narrative; they passed through the narrow canal made by the waters standing apart, and were transformed from Egyptian slaves to free Israelites, servants of God. And we were going to re-enact this.
So we all divided into pairs and stood in a line, made a giant tunnel by joining our hands overhead, and participants volunteered to be “birthed” one after the other by crossing the Sea of Reeds, which in this case meant being carried on their backs through the tunnel of arms overhead. Read the rest of this entry →