Thursday, September 27, 2012

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

According to a popular saying,  major Jewish experiences are  somehow connected to food. If  I may add, where there is food, there is song... Thus, every Jewish experience is full of song.

From the High Holiday cantorial pieces to the  zemirot sung at the Shabbat table, from the teary-eyed wedding chupah music to the energetic dancing music that follows, from the Mah Nishtanah at the Passover Seder to night-time lullabies, the Jewish year is indeed a musical one.

Why is song such a major player in the Jewish arena?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the first Chabad Rebbe and founder of Chabad Chassidus, once commented,  “Melody is the pen of the soul”. It expresses to ourselves and to others the deepest parts of our hearts and souls, that which cannot be expressed through the medium of finite syllables.

Song brings emotion and depth wherever it enters. It is a journey inward, to one's self, bringing our truest self to the forefront of our consciousness. It's the marriage between who we are and who we ought to be.
You don't have to be musically wired to appreciate the power of a melody. You don't have to hold the title of a singer in order to sing. All you need is a heart.

The greater part of this week’s  Torah reading of Ha'azinu (Devorim [Deuteronomy] 32: 1-52) consists of a 70-line "song" delivered by Moses to the people of Israel on the last day of his earthly life.

Why is Moses singing on the last day of his life? Why was the longest piece of poetry in the Torah chanted on one of the seemingly saddest days of Jewish history, the day that this greatest Jewish leader of all time passed on?

Moses wanted to leave us with the power of song. He was leaving his flock, and until the end of times there wouldn't be anyone like him to guide the nation. So he gave us a tool that would allow us to find G‑d within ourselves, to create leadership even in the absence of true leaders. He taught us how to maintain the flame of Judaism whether in the gas chambers – where Jews sang the Ani Ma'amin ("I believe!") on the way to their deaths – or sitting at the Shabbat table with family and friends.

On his last day of leadership, Moses gave us the means to persevere: with song.

How appropriate, as well, that this Parsha is always read just before the holidays of Succot and Simchat Torah, referred to in our prayers as Z’man Simchoseinu – the Season of our Joy! What better way is there to express our joy and happiness of being a Jew than through song !

And very soon, when Moshiach comes, we will merit to hear the greatest song of all, when we will sing and dance with G‑d Himself in the most magnificent dance of all time.

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - from  Rabbi Levi  Avtzon)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos and a joyful Sukkos!