On this Shabbat Shira (Shabbat of Song), let's take a look at God's Playlist - or CHAI-Tunes, as I call them. Click here for the pdf, which contains:
THE TOP TEN SONGS IN JEWISH HISTORY (Where would you put Adon Olam? Hatikva? The Sh'ma? "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof? See my list here
THE SONG OF THE SEA:
What do the spaces between the words symbolize? See the full list of 14 here. Selected interpretations are below:
1) Talmud: Shabbat 103b – “like a brick wall” – recalling the bricks of slaves.
2) This implies that the connection between our nation and God is stable and strong, like the wall of a building.
3) Each phrase stands by itself / its own unique meaning, yet connected to the whole.
5) Until now, the mysteries of God’s miracles were “closed” and out of reach – now they are open and clear for all to see.
6) Shabbat is the pause, the space, that gives music to our lives. The silence shouts out eloquently.
7) Kotzker Rebbe: “This is my God and I will declare His perfection.” (ZEH AYLEE V’ANVAYHU). How? I will make a dwelling place for God within me. Those spaces are the places that we have carved out for God in our lives.
8) Psalm 81: “I answered you in the secret place of thunder (a thundering silence). God speaks to us in silence.
9) MEDITATE ON THE VISUAL TEXT OF THE SONG / STARE AT IT FOR A MINUTE – WHAT DO YOU SEE?
- Rows of Soldiers?
- Waves of the Sea?
- Do you see the form of a giant Alef? (which is a silent letter)
10) Without getting too graphic, can this space between the words be Israel’s “birth canal?”
11) Or could this be a “Battle of the Sexes?” Moses is up top, Miriam is mentioned below. Or maybe the separation of the sexes. Midrash Mechilta Shira 10 cites this song as justification for separation of men and women. Could it be seen as a sign of the need to unify?
Some recent scholarship suggests that this song was written by women (it is called the Song of Miriam in some ancient manuscripts). In rabbinic literature, Moses and Miriam often appear in parallel, with Miriam given equal status.
12) The song describes a mythological battle between Israel’s God and the Ugaritic Sea god Yamm. There is no mention here at all (in the song) of the historical context of Egyptian slavery. It’s God vs. Yamm. Sacred vs Profane. Hebrew letters vs. Empty spaces. May the best deity win!
13) The white space symbolizes winter. The dark is beginning to encroach as Spring approaches. Tu B’Shevat is here!
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