15 Shevat 5773 / January 25-26, 2013
In this week’s portion, Beshallach, we find the Israelites trapped against the sea with the Egyptians closing in on them. Due to some Divine intervention, the Israelites are able to cross the sea on dry land while their Egyptian pursuers drown. After seeing the Egyptians dead on the shore of the sea, the Israelites’ faith in God and Moses is renewed, and they respond by bursting into spontaneous song (somehow they all knew the words). After the song, Miriam leads all of the women in dance, chanting and playing tambourine along the way.
The concept of spontaneous song is one that strikes me as being very powerful. We’ve all experienced such song before, whether in the car or in the shower. Sometimes you just have to let it out and sing. And as we all know, singing is something that we all do and that’s pretty easy to do, regardless of your surroundings.
Unlike spontaneous song, many of us struggle with the notion of spontaneous prayer, despite what should be apparent similarities. The reality seems to be that by virtue of being used to having a prayer book placed in front of us that provides us with the words we “should” say, the opportunity to spontaneously sing out our innermost expressions of gratitude and praise feels stifled.
This Shabbat, let’s strive to be like our ancestors after coming out of Egypt. Let’s remember that the words on a page are so much less important than the words in our hearts. Let’s sing out when given the opportunity, and let's allow ourselves to spontaneously be so caught up in life’s moments, that all we can do is sing out how grateful we are to experience them as they take place.