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Worshipping together through joyous song

02/05/2020 03:38:50 PM

Feb5

Cantor Leah Shafritz

This week's Torah portion, B'shalach, is a favorite among cantors. The Shabbat on which this portion is read is nicknamed Shabbat Shira (“Shabbat of song”) because the portion contains Shirat Hayam (“the Song of the Sea”). We read the narrative, that we'll revisit in our Passover seders, of the Exodus from Egypt, and more specifically, the parting of the Red Sea.
After the Israelites cross the sea on dry land and the waters once again close up, the Torah continues the story: "then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to Adonai," and their musical words of praise follow. Immediately after the song of the sea, the text goes on (and you may be familiar with this part thanks to Jewish composer Debbie Friedman): "then Miriam the prophetess...took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her dancing with timbrels. And Miriam chanted for them: Sing to Adonai, for God has triumphed gloriously."
Why the Israelites bothered to grab all these musical instruments while they were fleeing Egypt is a different story, but the fact that the Torah recounts not one, but two songs of rejoicing in this moment (not to mention one led by a woman) is exciting for your musically-oriented member of clergy. We relive this moment of musical celebration in worship every week through our
Mi Chamocha prayer (spoiler: that piece of our liturgy comes out of the text Shirat Hayam directly).
I invite you to join me and our Shabbat Halleilu Band this Friday night for our Shabbat Shira service; we will have an opportunity to see
Shirat Hayam in the Torah scroll (it looks different than you might expect!), hear its special way of being chanted, and, of course, to worship together in community through joyous song.

Sun, May 31 2020 8 Sivan 5780