Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This coming Sabbath is known as the Sabbath of Song. it precedes Tu Beshevat, the New Year of trees.On this Sabbath we read from the Torah the Song of Moses, a poetic outpouring of gratefulness in the aftermath of the rescue of Israel at the Sea of Reeds(The Red Sea).
We sing when are hearts are full to overflowing. When it is sadness that occupies our heart, our songs are lamentations, wailing sounds of despair.
When our hearts burst with joy and optimism, our throats warble with waves of glee and celebration.
The Psalmist urges us to "sing a new song"-psalm 98. These words are recited weekly during Kabbalat Shabbat, the service of welcoming the Sabbath .Is the Psalmist invitation that we sing a song with new melody and lyrics each week? Is this humanly feasible? If not, how can we understand the notion of newness when it comes to song?
The answer I believe is embedded in the phrase that follows-"for He has performed wonders." Singing a new song is a musical expression of recognizing the wonders of life. When we acquire this awareness, our song, no matter how old the melody or words, takes on the freshness and exhilaration of singing something new. Awareness of the dynamic renewal of life that surrounds us at all times is the impetus for articulating gratefulness through a song of gratefulness.
It is told that when the Torah is returned to the Ark and the congregation chants -"Renew our days as of old"- Mordechai M. Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism would whisper an additional phrase-"Und a bissel besser"- and a little better.
It is no accident that Tu Beshvat, the New Year of trees follows the Sabbath of song.
Each sapling embraces the life-giving capacity of nature to nurture a seed into a strapling tree that touches the skies; each tree is testament to the marvel of the human habitat; each leaf lifts the heart in a lilting tune of praise to the Creator of all things.A song is a poem of gratitude.
This Shabbat, we sing with joyful hearts, acknowledging with humble praise the myriad and infinite gifts of God's amazing universe.
Shabbat Shalom.

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