DVAR TORAH B’SHALACH
Hey Hanegev! Shabbat Shalom!
I hope everyone is having a great start to their exciting new year, chasing those awesome #NEWYEARNEWTRADITIONS. I know I am! As a Religious Education Correspondent I set myself a new Jewish goal, or tradition: to get HUSY’s “Ruach” level through the roof! However, this is a group effort, but definitely an achievable one!
In this week’s Parsha, B’Shalach, we read of the famous story of “Shirat Hayam”, or the “Song of the Sea”, a poem we actually read in our everyday Shacharit. After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites sung and thanked God with great joy for leaving Egypt and successfully beating out the Egyptian army. Moses and his people sang with great triumph and exclaimed that God is the one and only. From this section in the Parsha we learn about the importance of celebrating and thanking God for all of our unique opportunities and joys in life.
However, what is most intriguing about this parsha is the re-emphasis of this idea of celebration and joy following the “Song of the Sea”. Ever hear of Debbie Friedman’s famed song, “Miriam’s Song”? The story of this song actually comes straight from the Torah. After singing and praising God, “Miriam the prophetess … took the tambourine in her hand; and all the women followed her with tambourines and dances.” (Exodus 15:20) Now, how in the world did the Israelites have any instruments in the wilderness? There is a simple commentary that suggests that they took musical instruments from Egypt anticipating and preparing celebration. However, that idea seems to be a little dull and not to mention predictable. There is one more commentary that I find to be more intriguing. I bet this one will blow your hats away. Hold on tight to your chairs….
Ruach. There, it’s said.
How can one word explain the whole song? Ruach is a word we commonly use to describe our strongly moved joy in our singing. The common definition of this hebrew word is wind, breath, or spirit; thus representing (respectively) how moved we are, how alive (awake, alert, and enthusiastic!) we are, and how close we are to God. The idea is that Miriam and the women did not actually have Tambourins. Rather, they had so much Ruach in their singing that they sounded as rocking loud as a percussion instrument. Also, tambourins are very simple instruments to make that have been used for thousands of years, symbolizing that Ruach is something we all share and are given naturally. All we need is a little motivation or incentive to use it, just as Miriam and the women did.
Just like the Israelites were able to exalt their strong devotion and happiness, we too, as Jewish teens with so many cheer sessions available, should be able to show this. We are given the opportunity to choose to use this special ability on Friday nights after Shabbat dinner, on Saturday nights during our Sloach (Slow-Ruach) sessions, or even during regular cheer sessions for our USY songs. Ruach is something we can all use to enhance our experience as Jewish teenagers and to make USY a more exciting, energetic atmosphere.
I hope that everyone will be devoted to their new year resolutions and to helping make Ruach a more common aspect of our Jewish experience, just as the Israelites did. Start practicing these coming up Shabbatot and get pumped for a super energetic Hanegev Regional Convention 2015! Show us how YOU RUACH!
Shabbat Shalom ‘Gev!
-The awesomest, Uri