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D’var Torah : Beshalach

In this week’s ParashaBeshalach, the Israelite people finally begin their journey to freedom. They cross the Sea of Reeds. The very famous “Shirat HaYam” – “Song of the Sea” is sung as they begin the crossing with Miriam the Prophet, Moses’ sister, in the lead.
 
This is a very powerful story on many levels. The Song of the Sea has endured in our siddur (prayer book) as a result of the momentous occasion it records. Often song can express emotion better than simply speaking. Changing the medium from words to song can actually change the meaning.
 
Many of us can relate to this. We smile as we listen to our favourite songs, feel energized or emotional when we go to concerts or musical theatre, join naturally in the singing of prayers at synagogue, or hear a song that triggers a memory.
 
When you see how the Song of the Sea is written in the Chumash or Torah, it is noticeably different – with the words written poetically – letters elongated with extra spaces between them. The regular trope (musical notation) of the Torah is suspended and a unique tune is sung for the Song of the Sea. Sometimes it is referred to as Miriam’s Song. It is said that the women joined Miriam singing and accompanying her with their musical instruments.
 
This ties in beautifully with an exciting week of auditions for the school play, Into the Woods, at RJDS. The energy was high, with students singing in the hallways and classrooms, preparing for their performances. It was infectious and made others join in, namely me. The excitement is mounting for the production which will be at the end of May.
 
The theme of freedom arises for the third week in a row in our Torah reading. Freedom is also one of the themes of Into the Woods, told through this version of the Cinderella story. She wishes to be her own person:  to escape the servitude of her stepmother and stepsisters and unlike the traditional version of the story, she even tries to avoid the servitude of marrying her Prince Charming.
 
Rehearsals for the play will begin in a few weeks. Once we begin, our students will be enjoying singing as Miriam and the women did upon crossing the Sea of Reeds. It is not always possible to connect the Torah to our modern-day lives, but in the case of the storyline of Into the Woods and Beshalach, both music and freedom are common threads.

 

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