Parashat B'shalah

Singing On The Way

Despite the fear and exhaustion of journeying from a dark, narrow place, we must remember to accompany our arrivals with song and joy.

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Relief After A Long Journey

Like the Torah portion it accompanies, this week's Haftarah, taken from the Book of Judges, also contains a song. This one, the Song of Deborah, was written several hundred years after the events detailed in B'shalah and was sung at the conclusion of a fierce military campaign.

The message contained in these two texts could not be any more simple. For any of us who have ever journeyed out of a narrow and dark place, we know that when we recognize our arrival to other side, it is most often accompanied by tears of relief and exhaustion. If we are to learn anything from our portion, we must also remember to sing.

A Song For The Future

The Song at the Sea begins with the Hebrew words "az ya-shir." Written in the future tense, the phrase can be understood as saying, "thus one will sing." It is a fitting epilogue to an awesome moment, and it is a charge to all of us who continue to pursue freedom in all of its forms. The song that the Israelites sang is as much our inheritance as the cause of freedom. This path we travel is not without blood and sweat, but we are also obligated to fill it with the sounds of joy.

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Deborah Joselow received her rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College in 1991. Prior to that, she completed her Master?s degree in Jewish Education at the Rhea Hirsch School in Los Angeles. Before assuming the position of Managing Director of the Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal department at UJA-Federation in 2001, Joselow was a congregational rabbi in Westfield, New Jersey. She also worked as the Director of Educational Planning in the national office of the Reform movement.