What Comes After The Singing ?

A lesson from the Sabbath of Song

What Comes After The Singing?

This past Sabbath was known as Shabbat Shira, the Sabbath of Song. It received that title because we read the most familiar biblical poem, the song at the Red Sea. It begins in Hebrew, “Oz Yashir Moshe..Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to God…”

It became so important that it was put into the daily prayer book and said every morning. Let me put the song into perspective.

The Israelites had been slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. He treated them miserably. Moses came to liberate them. In his initial response Pharaoh increased his oppression and the suffering of the people. Ten plagues were visited upon the Egyptians until Pharaoh finally agreed to release the slaves. No sooner had they departed and began their journey to the promised land, than Pharaoh changed his mind and unleashed his entire army on them. It looked like the end to the newly liberated slaves but with God’s help the Red Sea parted, the Israelites crossed over and the pursuing Egyptian army drowned. (At this point I feel like I can smell the matzo ball soup cooking for the seder.)

The Israelites were so thrilled at this totally unimaginable turn of events that they joined in a monumental song of joy and praise of God who had destroyed their enemy.

When the US election took place in November and the results were coming in, I felt like the Israelites at the shore of the Red Sea. Would we be saved from all the suffering of the previous 4 years or would the invading forces capture our election and return us to 4 more years of the erosion of Democracy?

The election results came in but somehow it was like a reenactment of the plagues. In the Bible, Pharaoh and his supporters would indicate acceptance and then at the last-minute change their minds and refuse to accept what they had just observed. It happened repeatedly and though God’s will to free the Israelites was apparent, Pharaoh and his advisors found new ways to deny the obvious which led to another plague and another acceptance followed by a denial and refusal to accept the obvious.

This is how it went for me from early November to January 6 when the final plague was unleashed. The votes of the electoral college were on their way to Congress to be counted and to certify the election, when “Pharaoh’s army” was unleashed one last time by “Pharaoh” to recapture our freedom. It did not look good for a while but in the end the army of darkness was denied, and we crossed the “sea”, and our democracy was saved. Finally, I was free to sing, but was I?

We are less than 2 weeks since the time of song, the inauguration, but we are discovering the extent of the enemy within. There were people who came on Jan 6th to kill congressmen, to hang the vice President and to take hostages. They were organized and may have had help from friendly congressmen. We are now told that these domestic terrorists pose the greatest danger to our society and they did not all “drown in the Red Sea”.

We have a congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is an unrepentant anti-Semite, an islamophobe, and a consumer and disseminator of conspiracy theories that prove that there is no lie too great or too despicable that she will not endorse and propagate.

Rothchild and his band of merry Jews run a laser in outer space that started the California fires. The Sandy Hook massacre was staged, and Stoneman Douglas shooting was a false flag operation and perhaps was staged by actors. Leading democrats are pedophiles and with Hillary Clinton they run a pedophile ring in the basement of a NY Pizzeria, but not to worry Donald Trump is leading the battle against them. Welcome to QAnon. And she was appointed to the education committee?

This week I officiated from my study at a funeral service up north over zoom. Originally it was to be a private service with 2 people watching. Someone changed their mind and invited about a dozen others and put an announcement on Facebook. We were more than halfway through the service when we were Zoom bombed. First there was noise that became martial music and then a drawing of a raised Nazi flag over what I think was a mound of bodies and sounds of Zig Heil being screamed. At the bottom of the drawing were typed messages starting with. “Kill all the Jews”. We closed the zoom and restarted it again only to have a repeat performance seconds later.

I do not understand how you zoom bomb, or the pleasure you get in so doing, but I imagine the perverse pleasure the scumbag who did this received works for him. He apparently has nothing better to do than scour social media and look for events that are Jewish and then go and ferment fear and hate. The deceased had a very Jewish surname, so it was clear why this service was chosen. I guess we are the “chosen People”.

Which brings me to ask, when if ever is there a good time to sing? We seem to be saved from one crisis only to almost immediately enter another. Is this our fate?

Sadly, that would seem be the lesson of this past week’s portion.

48 verses after the end of the triumphant and exuberant song that celebrated the complete destruction of the Egyptian army and their hold on the Israelites, Amalek cowardly and from the rear attacked the Israelites in the desert. The glow of the song was still lingering in their hearts when a marauding tribe of murderers attacked. Fortunately, the people fought back and repelled them. Then God tells Moses to record this event in a special memory book, and that He promises to wipe out the memory of Amalek. Moses then builds an altar to God and says, “…The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Sorry fellow Jews but this past week’s portion is in the words of Walter Cronkite,” the way it is” for the Jewish people, but please do not stop singing.

The enemy will never cease to hate and attack us, so every victory is that much sweeter and needs to be celebrated and sung over. The enemy will keep trying as we know all too well in a week that observed Holocaust Memorial Day, but in the end the enemy is gone and we are still here and therefore our existence demands that we sing.

In song comes hope, comes renewal and optimism but also the necessary energy to keep us alert and motivated to keep up the struggle. If the battle with Amalek will go on as the Torah portion says, “from generation to generation” then we will fight at every battle and we will sing at every victory from generation to generation, until the messiah comes and there will be no more enemies. Bimhera beyamenu, quickly in our time!