The ability to recapture and desire again and again a thing we already familiar with requires emotions and not only intellect.
This is the first Shabbat of the new year. This time of new beginnings marks a significant time that invites a fresh outlook on life. As we come to open this year, it is helpful to pause for reflection, and to take a look on what is coming ahead. The habit of reflection can build self-awareness and is here to help us establish new and more meaningful goals for the year to come. So how come that in such a remarkable time of change and new beginnings, just as we open the corridor that signifies the renewing of our lives, in this portion, Moshe begins his separation from the people of Israel?
Moshe is notifying the children of Israel that he will not cross the Jordan River with them, nor will he come to the land of Israel with them. He tells them that Joshua will lead from now on, deliver the people at the entrance to the Land of Israel. Moshe than strengthens the children of Israel, telling them that they shell not be afraid of the war in the peoples of the land, since G-d will help them overcome all obstacles.
Here we have the first portion of the year that is called upon the word of "walking"- a thing we need to do while being alive, but it is actually speaking on Moshes “end of the road”. To understand this, we need to better review the aspect of walking. Walking requires concentration of all organs into a state of voluntary movement. Walking is the result of a goal or aspiration in which we seek to get from one place to another, whether it is to a point out a movement from a geographical aspect or on a spiritual timeline, this conditioning of walking, naturally require our engaging in a continuance progress. In such progress, we need to activate the body, the heart and the mind, using them all – together – to lead us to the next chapter in the circle of our life.
In this cyclical motion of a year following a year, we come across an endless development and an ongoing process. Each time revealing another corridor within our journey, each time moving a bit closer to a hidden gaol of some sort, we are to achieve while progressing in life circumstances. Whether it is personal or collective- development, physical development, or spiritual development, every year brings with it a growth and sudden changes that are vital for us when walking through our life’s journey.
During those forty years on which the children of Israel were walking in the desert, whenever Moshe wanted to talk to them, he usually gathered them; commanding them to come to him, but this time, Moshe goes to Israel. Walk towards them. At the end of his life, having given the children of Israel the divine 612 commands, here comes G-d’s final request to him: To write down a song and teach it to the children of Israel for generations to come. "This song will be for me as a witness for the children of Israel” G-d says.
That last command we received in this portion is not simply about some kind of a law in the Torah, but about the duty, each of us have, to renew the Torah in our mouths. As we are about to start a new cycle of living in accordance to the Torah. In order to make the Torah a living force forever beating in our hearts and keeping our souls intact, it is not enough to held it on, under a cognitive aspects alone but rather it must speak to us effectively through emotions.
Judaism is a religion of words, books, accurate translation, freethinking and reestablishment of well-known emotional duties. Now we know that whenever the language of Judaism aspires to the spiritual realms it breaks into song. This is what happened on the red sea, after Miriam past away when they received the water in the well again, and this is what is about to happen now just as the people of Israel entering their land. Every time, when near a source of water, and when aspiring to praise G-d, Israel is doing it by singing. Because there is something about a song or a melody, which makes any verse of wording more intimate, more sublime and more comprehensive to our inner self. A song can connect us back with our inner being.
A melody enables us to in a way, better understand the emotional manners of our heart, and that is because while words are the language of the mind, of the intellect, a melody is the language of the heart and of the soul.
“Judaism is a religion of words, books, accurate translation, freethinking and reestablishment of well-known emotional duties.”
The Zohar says that singing pulls blessings from above realms down to earth until all worlds are filled with blessings. And that is also the notion of the future according to Judaism, when Israel will sing from the earth to the upper realms making by this a tie or a bond of faith between heaven and earth. Between G-d and His people. Just like in the song the children of Israel sang to the well after Miriam passed away, as you remember, they were singing to the water in the well that answered, as the water in the well rose above to reunite with the upper waters in the heavens.
So we have here a natural desire for unity in all realms, combining the lower realms with the upper realms which are the heavens. While singing is a key factor for it to happen. The 613 command, to write down the song and to put it in the mouth of generations to come, symbolizes the fact that - though the Torah was given once from the above to us on Mount Sinai, we must make our own effort to give it back to the above. and the way to do it, is by doing its commandments and delivering its words, wisdom, history, laws and knowledge to our next generations.
We must receive the Torah repeatedly year after year and deliver it onward, as each of us, through our study and practice, strives to recapture the voices we heard back then at Mount Sinai. This ability to recapture and desire again and again a thing we already familiar with requires emotions and not only intellect. It means treating Torah not only as words we read or as a historical landscape, we know, but also as a melody we sing.
The Torah is G-d’s melody and we are His choir. Its words, stories and lessons accompany us each year on our lives, each time in a different magnitude, sometimes with altered state of mind and slightly different vantage point. But its always there.
It is a well-known thing that as Jewish people when we speak we often argue. However when we sing, even though we sing in many voices it can reach to a beautiful harmony.
Because as we have said, music is the language of the soul, and at the level of the soul, when singing – we make use of a higher source of energy within ourselves – that can help us reach to unity with the Divine.
To find out more about this week's portion watch the Torah lesson.