Between the Lines—Pesah

Weekly Midrash Learning with Rabbi Abigail Treu

תלמוד בבלי מסכת סוטה דף יא עמוד ב
דרש רב עוירא: בשכר נשים צדקניות שהיו באותו הדור - נגאלו ישראל ממצרים... וכיון שמתעברות באות לבתיהם; וכיון שמגיע זמן מולדיהן, הולכות ויולדות בשדה תחת התפוח... והקב"ה שולח משמי מרום מי שמנקיר ומשפיר אותן, כחיה זו שמשפרת את הולד, ... ומלקט להן שני עגולין אחד של שמן ואחד של דבש ...וכיון שמכירין בהן מצרים באין להורגן, ונעשה להם נס ונבלעין בקרקע, ומביאין שוורים וחורשין על גבן... לאחר שהולכין היו מבצבצין ויוצאין כעשב השדה... וכיון שמתגדלין באין עדרים עדרים לבתיהן...וכשנגלה
הקב"ה על הים הם הכירוהו תחלה, שנאמר: (שמות טו) זה אלי ואנוהו


BT Sotah 11b

R. Avira expounded: As the reward for the righteous women who lived in that generation, the Israelites were delivered from Egypt . . . After the women had conceived they returned to their homes; and when the time of childbirth arrived, they went and were delivered in the field beneath the apple-tree . . . The Holy One, blessed be He, sent down someone from the high heavens who washed and straightened the babies' limbs in the same manner that a midwife straightens the limbs of a child . . . He also provided for them two cakes, one of oil and one of honey . . . When the Egyptians noticed them, they went to kill them; but a miracle occurred on their behalf so that they were swallowed in the ground, and [the Egyptians] brought oxen and ploughed over them . . . After they had departed, the Israelite women with their children broke through the earth and came forth like the grass of the field . . . and when they had grown up, they came in flocks to their homes . . . When the Holy One, blessed be He, revealed Himself by the Sea of Reeds, they recognized Him first, as it is said, "This is my God and I will praise Him" (Exodus 15:2).

Swallowed in the ground,
Saved from forces stronger than ourselves,
Hooves over our heads.
A miracle occurred.
The dirt in our noses lungs teeth
Is this a miracle or a great hiding?
Succumbing.
Yes, plow us over.
Please.
Don't make us labor under the apple trees
Or worse.
Let us hide here, safe
From the hardness of our hearts, and yours.

Reborn, this time with babes in arms,
Pushing, breaking through the earth,
Like the grasses of the field
Under the apple trees.
Redemption.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you.*
We would never have known
(without them, without the pounding of oxen overhead).
It is safe to break free.

But oh, what redemption it was, it is
To push up out away from the earth,
Reborn as the grass of the fields,
A blossom full with spring
And so very strong.

*Isaiah 44:22