Shabbat of song

This week is a really special Shabbat called Shabbat Shira.

Shabbat Shira (the Shabbat of Song), the title given to the weekly portion of Beshalach, (11th January) in which the Jews sang the famous “Az Yashir” poem of gratitude upon their deliverance from their Egyptian pursuers at the Red Sea. Why did they burst into song?

The answer is simple: song is the medium through which we can communicate our emotions. Music can take a person to a place that prose and rhetoric are unable to penetrate.

Prayer, a sincere expression of the longings of the soul is thus synonymous with song- the language of the heart.

Listen here to the English Sephardi version of the Shira tune.

When the Jews began their song at the Sea of Reeds, our Rabbis point out that they used an unexpected Hebrew tense. Rather than record their song as an event in historical terms they used the word ‘Yashir’ which means ‘will sing’ in the future. This, explains the Beis Halevi (Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik 1820 -1892), reflects their deep-rooted belief that the sound of authentic Jewish song will be voiced once again at the time of our final redemption.

This means that we as the congregations of today are charged with the sacred duty of guarding and enhancing the timeless and beautiful musical tradition that we have been bequeathed.

Please do join myself and the choir for this Shabbat of song.

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