Newsletter              April 17, 2014, 17 Nisan, 5774


 A Song About Singing

There is song, and there is silence, and there is always the next song. We acknowledge the forced silence of our ensemble, the Angels, by singing on the last days of Pesach, only the shortened Hallel, but still, we sing. "In that hour of the splitting of the sea, the ministering angels wished to accompany the Children of Israel in song, but God rebuked them, saying, 'My handiwork, Egypt, is drowning in the sea; would you sing before Me' (Sanhedrin 39b)!" There was song, and there was silence.


There was screaming and there was silence during the Plague of The First Born, "There shall be a great outcry in the entire land of Egypt, such as there has never been and such as there shall never be again. But against all the Children of Israel, no dog shall even whet its tongue (Exodus 11:6-7)."


There was noise and there was silence just before the Splitting of the Sea, "God shall make war for you, and you shall remain silent (Exodus 14:14)."


There was silence and there was sound at Revelation, "When the Holy One, Blessed is He, gave the Torah, no bird cried out, none of the Seraphim sang, the sea did not stir, and human beings did not speak (Exodus Rabbah 29:9)."


There was noise and there was silence for Elijah in the cave, "Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before God, but God was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but God was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper (I Kings 19:11-12)."


We sing of the sound and the silence of the Plague of the First Born during the Seder. 


We sing of the noise and the silence of the Splitting of the Sea with the Song of the Sea.


We sing of the silence and the Voice of Revelation when we study Torah aloud (Megillah 32a).


We sing of Elijah's ruckus and silence when we blow the Shofar, "The great Shofar will be sounded and a still, thin sound will be heard (U'netane Tokef)."


John Ruskin celebrates a composition as, "the arrangements of unequal things," and this Shabbat we will sing the Song of Songs, a celebration of our ability to sing despite the many unequal things in our history and lives, to take the contradictions, the harsh clamor and merge it with the silences; God's, the world's when facing evil, and ours in shock, and then connecting them, forming them into a musical score.


"Nature doesn't rhyme her children (Emerson)," for it is we who must discover the hidden song of life, allowing it to play its score in the songs of our lives and in the silence, performing the Song of Songs, the song of celebration of our ability to always sing. And sing, we shall.


A Good Moed, Shabbat Shalom and a boundary smashing Pesach that will inspire you to live a life of joyous song,


Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg 

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