To: The State of Israel and all its inhabitants,
This Shabbat in the weekly portion, we will read the Song at Sea - Shirat Hayam - led by Moses and Miriam:
“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord…Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them:“Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.” (Exodus 15)
And the Haftarah “Shirat Devorah” adds “I am for God, I will sing” (Judges 5, 3).
These songs express gratitude for deliverance but do not avoid describing the heavy price of redemption.
I wish that we all continue singing together for another 75 years.
Singing together has healing power. Singing together brings people closer to one another, heart to heart. Singing groups are typically Israeli. We sing together from birth and much of our childhood education is expressed with songs. May we enable this singing to continue and flourish.
My favorite type of prayer is one that involves a lot of singing. When voices are intertwined in harmony, hearts open up and people can pause from the routine and burden of the week. Singing allows devotion and experiencing something beyond the words themselves. Singing invites listening to the soul, and sensing the dimension under the words. This affords people of different beliefs and backgrounds an opportunity to pray together, to transcend the words, to submit each unique voice as part of a choir of many voices.
The 19th century halakhic work “Aruch Ha-Shulchan” has in its introduction to its Hoshen Mishpat volume: “The entire Torah is called Shira (song), and the glory of singing is when the voices are different from one another”
I wish for us all to continue wandering among tunes, to gather together beyond the words, to find company with those who love singing, to listen carefully to the breath and the soul, to lend our voices to shared songs.
Rabbi Shira Levine was ordained at Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis at the Shalom Hartman Institute and Hamidrasha in Oranim. Shira lives with her family on Kibbutz Hanaton where she serves as a spiritual leader. Shira leads the department of communities at HaMidrasha in Oranim and is a fellow of the Honey Foundation.