Faith is packing your timbrel

I started this post back in April after a sermon in which a friend of mine used the phrase “faith is packing your timbrel” and I got super fixated on this concept.

My Hebrew name is Miriam and my favorite holiday is Pesach (Passover) and I have long felt an affinity toward Miriram’s method of going out of Egypt. So when we read Shirat Hayam (The Song of the Sea) this past Shabbat, I decided the time was now to actually expand on this concept.

We don’t know a lot about the content of Miriam’s song after the Israelites passed through the sea, nor the dance the women did with their timbrels – but it is clear that they had their timbrels.  On some level, the women knew (or maybe just hoped) that Moses was right, and there was a higher power who would safely lead them out of Egypt.  That the slavery was ending and soon there would be a reason to celebrate again.

They left in such haste that they didn’t do many things, but they remembered their timbrel.  Something so frivolous was not left behind to leave things to chance.  They took their timbrels along in their precious space.

Would we do that now?  If we had to flee our surroundings, would any of us take something which is such a clear component of joy?  Would we have the faith to know that things would work out for the best and we would have a use for them again?  Or would we take practical things like clothes and food and just hope that someday we can replace the fun stuff?

I like to think that Miriam set the stage for us.  That women everywhere have this instinct to know that things will get better and that Hashem will provide for us.  That we can all channel the first prophetess in our own trying times. Most of all, I pray that we always have faith enough to pack our proverbial timbrels.


And if you are anything like me, you can’t talk about Miriam or timbrels without Debbie Friedman (z”l) coming into your head, so I had to include Miriam’s Song with this post. 🙂



2 thoughts on “Faith is packing your timbrel

  1. I’d like to point out that in the traditional listing of 7 prophetesses, Miriam is not the first chronologically. That honor goes to her great great great grandmother, Sarah.

    “The rabbis taught: Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses preached to Israel…Who were the seven prophetesses? Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, Esther.”

    • Thank you for making that point Zev. While it is true that in traditional writings Sarah Emanu is listed first, Miriam is the first woman who is called “the prophetess” in the Torah and that is where I derived my statement about her being first from.

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