Mi Chamocha is a small section of a larger piece of Torah found in Exodus 15 that is known as Shirat Ha-yam or the Song of the Sea. In addition to being found in the Torah, Shirat Ha-yam is found in Pesukei de-Zimra, or the Verses of Song section, in the Shacharit (morning) service. Additionally, the few verses comprising the piece we’ve come to know as Mi Chamocha are found again in both the morning and evening service prior to the recitation of the Amida.
This section is known as Geula or redemption. The Israelites have fled slavery in Egypt and safely traversed the Sea of Reeds while the Egyptians have been drowned therein. The verses ring with praise for the redemption God has afforded the Israelites.
Consider a time when you have experienced a difficult situation.
Were you successful in overcoming it?
How did you feel about the outcome?
Who did you consider to be responsible for that outcome?
Did you also have a physical reaction to the event?
In the Talmud, Sanhedrin 39b, God admonishes the angels for singing.
באותה שעה בקשו מלאכי השרת לומר שירה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא, אמר להן הקדוש ברוך הוא: מעשה
ידי טובעין בים ואתם אומרים שירה לפני
In that hour the ministering angels wished to utter the song [of praise] before God, but God rebuked them, saying: My handiwork [the Egyptians] is drowning in the sea; would you utter song before me! [Translation by Uri L’Tzedek. Edited for gender neutrality]
The Song of the Sea is not admonished. What can we learn from this distinction?
Ezra says that God wants us to bless God even when we are sad and feel loss. How realistic is this to do? If even God
expresses anger at loss, what does Mi Chamocha tell us we might expect of ourselves? How does that affect your ability to relate to God in the presence of loss?
Redemption from the past implies hope for the future. How does your experience with loss help you shape your future?
Mi Chamocha is sung after passing through a narrow straight and emerging into a new life on the other side. This is a
re-birth, an earthly birth canal.
Chapter 8 talks about mayim chayim. Discuss how Mi Chamocha links that Israelites to Ezra and Tova.
What are they (the Israelites / Ezra and Tova) blessing?
What are they (the Israelites / Ezra and Tova) carrying forward?
What responsibility do they (the Israelites / Ezra and Tova) have to the past? To the future?
 RuthBalinsky American
Jewish World Service,