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Parashat Beshalach: Joy

Have you ever felt such joy that the only way to physically express yourself was to sing and dance? Has your heart ever been bursting with such happiness that you had to celebrate? Take a moment and answer these questions. Think about your best memories. Memories that are filled with your joy and happiness. Try and recapture some of them in your heart. Remember, who and what prompted these feelings, as well as where you were. What brings you joy?

In this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, the Israelites felt pure and unadulterated joy. After getting away from the Egyptians, seeing G-d’s miracles, and passing through the Sea of Reeds safely, the Israelites couldn’t help but express their joy through song and dance. In their first moments of truly feeling their freedom the Israelites stopped and they sang and the women danced. The great 11th century Jewish commentator Rashi explained that they had to sing because that is what their hearts dictated them to do. To this day when we chant and listen to this song on this Shabbat it is done with a special trope, a melody that is meant to elicit joy. This song, which we call Shirat HaYam, “The Song of the Sea,” is even written with special spacing in the Torah, so the reader and all who see it know that this was a joyous and extraordinary moment. So this Shabbat and through this weekend, be joyous. Remember the Israelites freedom, and their joy. Celebrate the freedom we have today, and the things we have in our lives. Find your joy and spread it.

Shabbat Shalom!