Shabbat Parashat B’Shallach Styles of Praise and of Prayer Shabbat Shira

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat is called “Shabbat Shira [the Shabbat of Song]” because we read the Song of the Sea which our people recited after they experienced the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.

There are actually two Songs of the Sea recorded in our Torah portion: one led by Moses; the other led by Miriam. And, the comparison of the two Songs of the Sea is an interesting study in contrasts.

Moses’ song is wordy. It is a lengthy and literary personal expression of praise and of prayer. And, it references history, philosophy, theology, faith, emotion, and joy.

Miriam’s song is short and sweet. It may be likened to a mantra or a meditation. It invites the people to participate in the song in celebration of the miracle they had just witnessed and it was accompanied by dance and by drumming.

Moses and Miriam: Two great leaders of our people. Two completely different styles of expression of praise and of prayer.

To this day, we Jews, incorporate both styles of expression in our prayer services. Some congregations lean more to one style than to the other. Neither style is more authentic. Both are solidly rooted in our history and in our tradition.

Food for thought…..If you have a preference for one style over the other, which style is closer to your heart? Do you consistently lean toward one style more than the other, or do you prefer one style at times and the other style at other times? And how does your preference, or preferences, reflect your neshama – your particular soul?

Whatever we prefer, may our personal and communal songs – expressions of praise and prayers – be acceptable to God.

And, may all of our prayers be answered for the good!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror