As I write this, we have finished celebrating Passover and are now in the period of the Omer, counting the days to the festival of Shavuot. On Passover we read in Exodus, “The children of Israel sang...” as God brought the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. Song has been a part of our tradition at these transformative moments as well as in personal ones, whether they be of joy, grief, or gratitude.
There is a Midrash which recounts the song that everything sings to God -- the seas, the mountains, the flowers, and the animals. Each part of creation carries its own special melody, joining together to make the harmony of the universe. When we sing our prayers, we add our voices to that harmony.
In the ancient temple, the prayers were accompanied by music. King David, the musician and the precursor of the Messiah, aroused the spirit of the people with song. Sometimes the song has no words: it is called a nigun and it has the simple magic of melody alone. It allows us to connect to our past and/or it is the vehicle for us to access a path to God in the present.
I am reminded of the Peter, Paul, and Mary song lyrics: “Music speaks louder than words, it’s the only thing that the whole world listens to; when you sing, people understand.” Jewish music is as old as Jewish tradition, and singing is as natural as breathing. Faith and music are intertwined. Be part of the musical symphony of the world. Come to our Shabbat services and let your soul soar through song!
L’hitra’ot, until next time!